I have a nephew. Several actually. But one has just graduated from high school in Virginia and has chosen to attend the University of Missouri at Rolla. Rolla is one of the top engineering schools in the country. But Rolla is also in South Missouri – the home of Rush Limbaugh. I was compelled to write to the young man and give him some ideas about living in Redneck Country.
The following is the actual letter:
Friday, June 25, 2010
Punkin Center, Missouri
Congratulations on graduating from Robert E. Lee High School. Your parents must be proud – no matter what they say to others. Us rednecks back in Missouri are proud of you too. A couple of us are going out doors tonight at midnight and randomly shoot guns into the air. Remember – this is all for you.
I talked with your Grandmother the other day – she said she thought you might be graduating this year or next – depending on your grades. She will be proud that you completed high school in less that the traditional Tone family six years.
I remember my freshman year of college. It was probably the best twelve years of my life. I have some advice about being a college freshman – don’t take advice from me. This is a time of transition; something like getting your first dog. Except you is the dog. Try to figure that one out.
I am sending you fifty bucks. Don’t give any of it to your Dad, he is not very responsible. He would take the money and buy Scouting badges for his uniform – he is like that. I talked with him the other day and he said he was getting ready to invest in some British Petroleum Company. Rather I would like for you to spend the whole fifty bucks on yourself. Get yourself some new walking shoes for college. Somehow the college architects think it is useful for students to walk half a mile between classes – so get those shoes. You might get a couple of pair of padded socks – I have always believed that a person should have more than one pair of socks – so get a couple.
You will want to look like you are worthy of being in college so get a couple of pairs of 501 Levis – don’t get those cheap Wrangler things that Brett Farve advertises – they are for old men. Get some of those colored Hanes T-shirts with pockets. Don’t wear one shirt more than three days in a row and try to wash the shirts about once a month – that way people will like you better.
So now you have shoes, socks, jeans, and shirts. You might want to get a sport coat in case you have to go to some important thing at college. Get the T-shirts first so you will have an idea of what color sport coat will best match your shirt.
Someone said you might be going to college somewhere in south Missouri. They used to call that school at Rolla the Redneck University. The main fraternity was called the Rolla Rednecks. Then that Foxworthy fella made all those jokes about Rednecks and the school changed their advertising literature to claim they teach ‘engineering.’ Engineering is just a fancy way of saying redneck.
Those folks down there are particular about their clothes. They have standards. Take your belt buckle for instance. Did I mention that you should get a good belt? Some of the folks in South Missouri wear belts with factory installed buttons to hook their suspenders to. They say it works pretty good. But I don’t know much about that cause when I went to school we used rope. Hemp rope. When the rope would no longer hold up your pants you could just smoke it. I say hemp because saying things like marijuana can get your phones tapped. If you don’t smoke MJ you probably don’t know what it smells like. You need to know this to protect yourself. Get yourself a Lipton Tea Bag and set it on fire. The odor of the burning tea is exactly the same odor as smoking pot. One day you will be in the school cafeteria and you will smell burning Lipton Tea – just go on about your business but be careful who you sit with.
But back to that belt buckle. Those buckles are big because the purpose of the belt buckle in South Missouri is to let the folks know when to stop yanking the belt around them. So get you a nice big belt buckle. Another thing about Missouri belts – generally people have their names imprinted in the leather, usually about halfway around so people behind you can know your name. We don’t like to get our belts mixed up. I’m serious – spend the whole fifty bucks.
If I was you I would stop in St. Louis on my way to South Missouri. They have a Big Chief Tablet outlet store there. Take the money you have left from the fifty bucks to get some school supplies. You can get crayons and scissors and some good Elmer’s glue and some water paints. Get the water paints with eight colors – those south Missouri folks will respect you – they only have blue, red, and green. Just enough to paint the confederate flag on their truck tailgate. Be sure to tell them you went to Robert E. Lee High School – they might just give you a scholarship. If you tell them you graduated they will really be impressed. Most of those folks wait until they are about forty to get their GED. I think that means Good Education Diploma.
Don’t tell anyone in South Missouri that you were in the Boy Scouts. The last time some Boy Scouts were camping down in those parts they set a small forest fire and burned down six moonshine stills. The fireballs could be seen for forty miles. Some folks down there will try to mislead you about moonshine. Let me just give you a clue – water is clear and good sippin whiskey is brown – not the other way around.
That school down there has a new nucular engineer program. Just imagine a Nucular Redneck – you can see right off why they changed the name. A bunch of folks signed up for the nucular engineer program cause they thought they was going to learn how to drive a nucular powered train. They only tried to run the train once. Now people are banned from the rail yards for about ten thousand years. So now they are saying they want to grow nucular powered corn. That is the kind that makes the best gasoline for the pickup truck. It has a real kick, or so I am told. You see the problem with teaching nucular stuff in South Missouri – they don’t quite get the idea of how nucular is for new inventions. You got to give them credit. They might want to keep doing old things but they want to do them in a big way.
If you take one of them nucular courses try to get the professor with the gray beard. His office is down at the end of the hall. Some people say he is a kraut but that just means he don’t know nothing about trains or corn. He has an accent, like he pronounces nucular as nuclear, but don’t let that fool you. He is probably just a Democrat.
Speaking of Democrats, don’t. You are going to school in the land of Rush Limbaugh. He is from South Missouri and the folks down there actually think he knows what he is talking about. Get yourself a Rush Limbaugh book, remove the dust jacket, throw the book away, put the dust jacket on a book with useful information, and pretend you are reading about Rush. This is not about deception – it is about self-preservation.
Speaking of self-preservation, did you get your shotgun Boy Scout badge? If so, don’t wear it. Just drop some words now and then like twelve gauge and double-ought. Tell your new buddies that you wanted to learn to trap raccoons but the practice was outlawed in Virginia. Then say something mean-spirited about the government. They like that. Language is important. Saying you are from Virginia is good – saying you are from the East Coast is bad. Those people down in South Missouri automatically hate anything that resembles the East or West coast. Don’t try to explain to them that Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia are on the East Coast – geography was removed from the South Missouri Education curriculum in 1965 (that may have been the year Rush Limbaugh started school – so cut him some slack). The conflicting ideas of the East Coast and the South just became too confusing.
I should mention something about religion. In 1976 the Missouri Legislature rescinded the law that allowed the shooting on-sight of followers of Joseph Smith. Unfortunately – that is actually true. If you can avoid talking religion, please do so. The South Missouri folks don’t like Muslims, Mormons, or Methodists.
You might have noticed that I put page numbers at the bottom. The location is not as important as the idea of numbering pages. You will learn to appreciate the idea of keeping things in order after you meet some of the administrators of Missouri schools. The other thing is the paper clip used to hold these pages together. Unless told otherwise, always use paper clips on school papers. Staples is a word that means something else around these parts. I like to used bright colored paper clips – if they don’t stand out some people don’t notice them and they might think your morning breakfast got spilled on the paper. So when you are at the Big Chief Tablet outlet in St. Louis get a box of colored paper clips.
Will you be bringing your own transportation to school? I don’t mean like a bicycle. I am talking about gasoline powered transportation. If so you will want to have four wheel drive, an elevated suspension, good mud tires, mud flaps, and fog lights. These are not necessary for the geographic terrain (remember they don’t teach geography) but these features on a vehicle seem to be prerequisites for picking up Missouri girls. That is what I hear anyway. Personally, I have not picked up a girl in a couple of months so I am not up on the latest techniques. And even if I was, you would not want the women that I seem to attract. Here is my problem: If a woman likes me then there is obviously something very wrong with her – so I don’t want any woman that wants me. That seems to be a common problem in Missouri.
Anyway, when people in South Missouri get divorced they are still cousins.
Hey, I almost forgot that school down there is famous for several inventions. Like the tooth brush for example. We know it came from South Missouri because if anyone else had invented it they would have called it a teeth brush. Maybe you could help by making the first nucular powered tooth brush – it would probably give new meaning to the term ‘tooth decay.’
I was going to send you a fifty dollar bill – but I realized that if you go flashing money around the Sheriff will think you run a Meth Lab.
Congratulations on graduating from High School. If anyone at your new school asks if you are related to me just say no. I won’t be offended. If anyone asks me about you I will just say that you might be on my brother’s side of the family.
Your Uncle on your Dad’s side,