Monday, April 11, 2011
Fucked-Up Inbred Super Freaks
I grew up in a town called Miller City, whose founders lacked the foresight to consider that perhaps putting the word "city" in the title should wait until the town was actually, you know, a city (the nearby town of New Cleveland made a similar mistake). It consists of a few bars and a gas station, and is surrounded by similar (but if you ask the locals, totally different and not at all the same) towns that make up the little collective that is Putnam County.
Putnam County is the odd kind of place where people refer to the county as if it's a town. The towns will bicker and fight over petty issues and then rally together and forget past disputes (most of which are over high school sports, which is usually the worst of our problems). We're our own little fucked-up family.
We never have money, and even when we do we still get drunk on school buses and go to hole-in-the-wall bars because it's all we know.
And... now this is going to sound completely irrational, because it is, but there's a way to identify other Putnam County natives. There's something about the combination of facial features and mannerisms and behavior that just make you think this person is one of us. This person is a totally fucked-up redneck like me. There's an aura of sorts, and no matter how much we distance ourselves from the flat landscapes and constantly inebriated people of Putnam County, we just know when we see another one. It can be in Florida. It can be in New York. It can be in Illinois. Even when we try to hide it, wrap ourselves in city clothes and urban habits, that Putnam County aura still manages to unmask us.
This phenomenon is probably the result of generations of inbreeding.
After spring break a new teacher joined us at the youth program I work for. When I first met him I had a suspicion. When he started talking I knew.
He is one of us. He's experienced the isolation and social structure of Putnam County and it is permanently hardwired into his brain and will show itself in the tone of every word and every move of a muscle.
But I can't just say these things, because that would be weird. I can't just tell someone that something about the way they hold their head indicates where they were raised. I've been trying to be more socially acceptable lately, and it's difficult for me, but I'm pretty sure saying something like "You're from Putnam County right? I can tell because of your brow-structure and posture" isn't okay. Ever.
A week later we were talking about where we were from.
"A place called Miller City," I said, "South of Toledo, nobody's heard of it."
"I'm from Fort Jennings," he said with a laugh. Fort Jennings is part of the collective.
It's a small, fucked-up, inbred world.
Home is just part of the freak show.
Posted by Justin at 11:48 AM