Tuesday, August 23, 2011

KY is for horses, not jelly

I had to have someone explain this joke to me.
I’m from Kentucky, which, from best I can tell, means I either love horses and bourbon or am married to my first cousin.

But whatever I do, it’s usually barefoot.

Well, I like horses okay but don’t pay much attention to the races and whatnot, I can drink bourbon if it’s mixed with coke, but it’s not my favorite drink, and as far as I know Chris and I aren’t related.

But that shoe stereotype is spot on.  I am not a fan of shoes.

It seems to me that people not from here, when they see us portrayed in the media, look down on us as a hillbilly state.  They compartmentalize the different aspects to our culture and can’t seem to reconcile one side of the coin with the other.

I’ve never really understood the dichotomy that is associated with this state.  How can you have the Kentucky Derby, something that people from all over the world flock to and respect, and but still consider all people from here hillbillies? 

When I told some people where I lived when I was in Vienna, a few of them asked me if I knew the Colonel.  As in Sanders.

I said he was my great uncle.

Not really.

My mom has mentioned New York relatives who, when she was younger, would check to see if she and her siblings were wearing shoes because as everyone knows people from here don’t wear them.

I’m sure many of us have been the victim of such stereotyping.  If someone not from here finds out you’re from Kentucky, usually either fried chicken, basketball or bluegrass are mentioned, somewhat disparagingly. 

Yes, I happen to love bluegrass music and know and am related to people who can play it like nobody’s business.  They’re some of the most talented people I know and I’m pretty sure they can sit on their front porch with an informal jam session and play the pants off whatever crap pop music you listen to.

I refuse to be ashamed of where I live.  This is home and we’ve got all different types of people here, just like everywhere else.

There are all sorts of people that call this place home – rich, horse people or not; hillbilly or not.  But I think that a lot of us that call it home have a respect for the rolling hills and sweet bluegrass and the fresh air, Lincoln’s birthplace, a couple of pretty good basketball teams, Derby pie, being southern but not seceding from the union, fried chicken, Appalachia, innovation through tough times, My Morning Jacket, Diane Sawyer, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Fort Knox, corvettes, Bill Monroe, horses, Daniel Boone, Stephen Foster, the Judds, and the ability to draw out our vowels when we talk.

That last one is pretty important.

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