Love me, love my dog

img_6155-001I’m basically a small-town corn-fed bumpkin from Western Nebraska who found out he was gay and probably above-average in intelligence at about the same time in 2nd or 3rd grade. Even though I didn’t have names for either situation, I began acting as if they were true (I wonder what happened to the 8mm films my uncle used to have of his nieces and nephews taken in the ‘50s that show me definitely acting like a little gay-boy in the midst of my butch cousins and brother).

Some of my friends will be horrified if they read this because one is not supposed to put oneself down by saying such things as, “I am a bumpkin.” That’s because they are more committed to putting on airs than I am. I’m pretty much content to let things be as they are and to try call a spade a spade. It does not bother me to admit I’m a bumpkin. And to know and embrace the fact, for example, that the last thing I usually spend money on is nice clothes. I forget to worry about how I look, even in public.

I don’t own a suit.

I haven’t bought a new shirt in about a year. My standard wardrobe is t-shirts, some with pictures and words that no 72-year-old ex-professor should wear. Yesterday’s was “Love me, love my cat.” That came in handy for a lesson in American idioms in the GED class I teach at the Aberg Center for Literacy. What does a person say when someone happens to mention the general dishevelment of his life? “Love me, love my dog cat.”

That’s how bumpkins are raised. Love me, love my dog, or cat, if that’s what you have. And since I love you, I’ll love your dog, too. Live and let live. And “share one another’s burdens.” True bumpkins are brought up that way wherever they live.

Of course, there were exceptions that even a gay-boy smart kid noticed. Carl Norton comes to mind. He tried to ruin my dad. But he was very much the exception.

Yesterday’s big Texas news (among the city folk, at any rate) was that Jess Herbst, the mayor of the tiny (pop. 640) town of New Hope, TX, came out as transgendered. I happened to see the news on TV. The reporter interviewed a Texas good-ole-boy from New Hope about it. If you have a stereotype of a Texas good-ole-boy in your mind, he probably looks and talks exactly like this guy. The guy didn’t want to talk about transgender issues―that’s her business―but about the gravel trucks parked illegally by the town hall.

Love the mayor, love her dog. Dan Patrick, Lieutenant Governor and speaker of the state legislature (who has a lot more power than the governor) must be shocked! His biggest priority this legislative session is to pass a law forbidding transgender school kids from using the bathroom of their trans selves. He probably wants the mayor to use the men’s bathroom at the town hall.

But that’s another story.

Here’s my guess. Those bumpkins all over the country don’t really in their heart-of-hearts give a damn if you are from Mexico or Syria or China. Live and let live. Love me, love my dog. And they sure don’t hate Muslims.

In the Western Nebraska town where I grew up, there was a large community of Japanese Americans. They had been there since long before Pearl Harbor. You know what? When FDR rounded up all the California Japanese-Americans and sent them off to prison camps, the Western Nebraska Nisei were not included. They stayed right there farming their farms and throwing big Japanese church dinners for the non-Japanese Americans who were their neighbors and members of the same churches (and their grandchildren are still there).

Now we’ve got this strange thing going on in our country. We don’t have many (or enough, at any rate) politicians who talk about the old bumpkin values like “Love me, love my dog, and I’ll love you and your dog, too.” They get into power by convincing people that their neighbors’ dogs are not lovable. Especially if they happen to Hispanic or Muslim, or just about anyone who is not WASP-ish.

Instead we have this class of rich city-folks who want power (and, boy, do they have it now), so they convince us bumpkins that Hispanics are after our jobs and Muslims want to kill us. You know, they make up lies such as seeing Muslims dancing for joy when 3,000 Americans were killed in 2001. The truth these liars ignore is that the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church fired its New York Bishop for participating in a prayer service with Muslim clergy.

That’s how our “leaders” are distorting the truth to get us bumpkins to be afraid and vote for them so they will have the power to take the country for all it’s worth. What do you suppose would happen if Trump said today, “Hey, folks. I lied about those New Jersey Muslims dancing on 9-11. Oh, yes, and I also lied about Syrian refugees being a security threat. And, oh, yes, I lied about the damage immigrants―legal or illegal―are doing to our economy.”

First we bumpkins would throw him (and Steve Bannon who tells him what to say) out. Then we’d look around for some leaders who would go back to telling us that we’re better off if we live and let live and work together to make this a better place.

Sorry to sound like an optimist when everyone knows I’m depressive old grouch.

4 Responses to Love me, love my dog

  1. Mary Kalen Romjue says:

    Thanks Harold,

    I guess I am one of those Country Bumpkins too. Well I believe that the message from the pulpit when I was growing up, and from my friends (you included), were deeply enriched by a philosophy called “Christianity”. I believe the quotation “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” still rings true. Too bad that this central philosophy has died on the vine in so many so-called “Christian Churches” and that they now spew hate and bigotry. I have to go to the gym now and get my vaccinations for travel out of this country and so I will get off of my stump. Let us not adhere to the “Resistence us Futile” that seems to permeate this country. I am proud to be one of those Bumpkins!

  2. Mary Kalen Romjue says:

    Please forgive the misspelled words in my response above, D#$** keyboard.

  3. Yes, that “do unto others” attitude was basic to our upbringing and values. It seems to be one of the last “go-to” places in many (most?) people’s thinking these days, certainly in our so-called leaders. You and I heard and reinforced in each other the same message.

  4. Pingback: “Love me, love my dog” | Soapbox By Kay

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