It was a sunny day and all was right with the world. I was trailering my wood splitter to a pile of cut aspen. Nothing makes my heart soar like “recreational logging” (and adding to my winter fire wood supply).
My truck was loaded with chainsaws, axes, and other implements of destruction. The window was rolled down and the air was fragrant. My gas tank was nearly empty…not that it’s a relevant detail. My treasured camouflage baseball cap was screwed on my head. The sky was brilliant blue. Nothing was going to rain on my parade.
I was singing loudly, off key, and with gusto. My tinny OEM stereo was blaring Queen’s most excellent song; “Fat Bottomed Girls“. Karaoke machines all over the world threatened to commit suicide as I screamed out lyrics like:
"Hey I was just a skinny lad Never knew no good from bad But I knew life before I left my nursery - huh Left alone with big fat Fanny She was such a naughty nanny Heap big woman you made a bad boy out of me Hey hey! Wooh"
The song ended in a flurry of guitar power chords. Freddy Mercury’s amazing voice sadly faded out. It was replaced with the pandering blather of idiots pitching car sales and specials on roofing materials. Reluctantly I switched stations. Bad move!
Some flake on Public Radio (is the “flake” part redundant?) was ranting about how rural America is backwards and mean spirited. The gist was that rural losers are in cahoots with nasty evil Republicans to perpetuate a gay-bashing homophobic culture.
Don’t I count? For all the world I have the outward appearance of a rural loser. Chickens graze on my lawn. I hunt deer. I think a baseball cap and denim jeans is suitable attire for anything short of meeting the Pope. Urbane sophistication vanishes in my presence. I’m the type of knuckle dragging redneck who might cling to guns and religion. So from the announcer’s point of view I’m precisely the kind of retrograde dickhead that spends my spare time time hating gays and shaking pitchforks at the city limits to Los Angeles and New York.
And yet I’m nothing like the negative image the woman was painting. Frankly her homophobic nightmare exists more in theory than reality. I haven’t got a problem with homosexuality. None of the other redneck losers I know do either. (We’re far more invested in the great Ford versus Chevy debate.) I’ve hung out with rural folks all across America; in sawmills, on ranches, in truck stops, in gun shops, in junkyards, in private homes and in public: homophobia is pretty much ancient news. It’s about as relevant as poodle skirts and jokes with Nixon as a punchline.
I wondered where the woman got her ideas about the world? Does she actually know any rural folks? Then I realized I’d just finished singing along with a dead bisexual British rocker who’s band name is synonymous with gay. I’d shouted song lyrics which reminisce about a morally questionable, possibly pedophilic, sexual relationship with an obese female caregiver. (And I’d sung it loud. Hey hey! Wooh.) The song had been played on a generic FM station in flyover country. The song has been played that way since it was a hit in 1978. 1978 is 33 years ago…it’s hardly cutting edge. All that time I’ve been singing along with Queen while publicly funded radio stations insist on talking down to me.
Luckily I soon arrived at my destination. I fired up my gear and worked like a dog for several hours. On the way back home I carefully avoided public radio’s buzz kill. Instead I cranked the rock and roll and happily sang along with a favorite violent anthem of mayhem. I’ve always liked Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting“. Good thing I’m not homophobic or I’d die every time a good song came on.