Idiocies. I adore idiocies. I remember getting caught driving behind some Upstate New York hick one time and in his back window he had a bobblehead doll of a New York Yankee, Don Mattingly, yeah Donnie Baseball--who George Steinbrenner told to go fuck himself when he trick-bagged Joe Torre into showing that Ohio hick Steinbrenner up by going to L.A. and going all the way to the National League Championship Series--and with Donnie Baseball along with him--and that doll was bobbing "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes" never bobbing "No" at me as I drove along behind this guy and I thought, what a stupid thing to have in your back window--and what the hell does that symbolize to the hick driving that car?--that's right, I called the dude a hick in put down of him for having faith in the constant agreement of a bobblehead doll--and in a way, I was right, true Upstate New Yorkers are hicks.
Interesting word "hick." I first heard it used pejoratively against members of my father's family by my morbidly pragmatic and honestly cruel mother. As far back as I can recall, my mother's repeatedly told my father, "Your family are nothing but a pack of White Trash hicks." But she never called my father a hick; and I never thought of my father as a hick, though, yes, mother was right about one of his brothers, my Uncle Always-on-the-Run Robbin.
And "robbin" was a good name for my uncle Robbin, an eldest son, a boy who dropped out of the third grade in a Decatur, Alabama, one-room schoolhouse at the age of 10 to hit the road and make his own way with the childlike wisdom he'd accumulated after having to work like a dog since he was 6, first for his father, a carpenter, but also on his own to pick cotton on Fridays and Saturdays, pickin' cotton out in those Alabama cottonfields along with the wretched tenant farmers's families, Blacks and Whites, in unison, pickin' the White man's, Mister Charley's, cotton, at a 1/3-a-cent a pound rate, draggin' an eleven-foot-long cotton sack that could hold over 100 lbs of cotton bolls, imagine a 10-year-old boy dragging a 100 lbs of cotton up row after row, then dragging it over to the scales--the scales that everyone who picked cotton knew were unbalanced in the favor of the plantation owner--pickin' in the hottest of summer heats--in that dead odorless heat of middle Alabama, just below the Tennessee border--steamy heat, the only trees shrub oaks or small gnarly live oaks, most of the woods chopped down for firewood, leaving those black-dirt lands to be cleared and overplanted with King Cotton--"Cotton's white for a reason, boy!"--and with the heat came the scratches, the bloody scratches all over your hands and up your arms--you had to wear long-sleeve cotton shirts to keep your arms from getting scratched; yet they still got scratched; and you couldn't wear gloves--it's almost impossible to pick bolls wearing gloves. There's a particular way to pick bolls if you wanna be fast and you can be fast as hell with two hands going at once like a boxing wailing away at a punching bag with a one-two motion over and over, starting at the bottom of the plant, the leaves bitterly sharp and sticker like, and working pickin' up the plant to its thistley top, the stalks bristling with pinsharp-pointed spines. As the sun's sinkin' in the lowland west, you throw your last bag into the bossman's rigged scale and then you collect your $1.00, or whatever you get after the field agent takes out his cut--by the time you get back home you ain't got nothing much at all, nothing, in fact, after your father and mother take it from you and then your father tells you to get your ass to sleep early as he's gonna need you on a job in the morning before church. He would have to dress up to go to church--and he had to go with his parents in the buggy, which he hated--and one Sunday afternoon after church had been going on since 8 that morning, he decided to steal as much fried chicken from the dinner-on-the-ground spread as he could pack in a stolen tablecloth, and he threw some bread in there, too, and some cake, too, and he tied all that food up in the tablecloth, and while nobody was looking, he hightailed it out across that park over a fence and onto the tracks of the GM&O and finally a slow-drag freight came along and this 10-year-old dumbass kid hopped that freight and ended up in Memphis, where 2 years later he killed a man with a stolen pistol, and at the age of 12, disappeared from the face of the earth only to appear again out of nowhere at his momma's back door begging forgiveness and asking for protection 25 years later. Robbin was 35 years old then and he also showed up with my Aunt Tossie and my rather backward but pretty cousin Lucy--Loosie Lucy we called her--and she was loose as a goose, too; after I had my first sex with her I thought I was the little prince of the family only to find out later all my cousins had experienced early sex at Cousin Lucy's cervex. And my mother was adamant about "that ilk" of my father's family being hicks.
Some people relate hicks with hillbillies. Of that I'm not so sure. Yes, in Texas, in the hills that rambled northwardly along between my hometown and the outskirts of bald-prairie Fort Worth, were filled with what my father called "cedarchoppers"--they cut down cedar trees and made charcoal out of the wood--if you drove along Highway 180 between Mineral Wells and Palo Pinto at night you could see the charcoal fires glowing all across those cedar hills, some of them prominent hills, very hilly country up there, but I never heard the cedarchoppers called hicks or hillbillies. Hillbillies. To me growing up on the hill-less lone prairie, hillbillies lived in Tennessee, back in those ancient hills. Plainsmen lived out where I'm from; and plainsmen weren't hillbillies or hicks at all. They were more highly thought of than say the Cleetuses and the Hatfields and McCoys--the Jukes, the Snopes--now those are hillbillies, folks, hicks, too, but hillbillies first. So, I've answered my own linguistics question--yes, a hillbilly can be a hick and a hick can be a hillbilly--but a plainsman or a cattleman or a mountainman (a la the Rocky Mountains) or a Comanche chief is certainly not a hillbilly nor are those "men" thought of as hicks. The guy coming to town on the turnip truck...now that's a hick. My dad's Cousin Fats was a hick. My father's family had surely been low-class under Southern White classification but they were fairly well educated and civilized and my grandfather Wolf was a master carpenter--and I could never see my Grandmother Wolf as a hick. She was a tough-as-a-boot old lady when I knew her and she ran the big family house in my hometown like the Brit queen runs Buckingham Palace. And the Wolf Family home was a huge house to a little kid like me looking for local fame and privilege among my peers, a huge house with a huge front and side lawn that had a gazebo with a swing in it in one corner, the gazebo separating the lawn from the rose garden and further in the large backyard the vegetable garden--that had fruit trees in it. That to me was not the home of a family of hicks, though it was to my mother--and you would not have dared called my mother's family hicks; oh no, my mother's family was cultured, above the norm--my mother's mother and her old frontier granny mother were wise women--and my mother had a wild-eyed worldly cute sister who was married and divorced by the time she was 20 and had runaway to Washington, D.C., where she worked for the Navy Department all during my first memories of her, leading an F. Scott Fitzgerald-Zelda Fitzgerald sort of life up there; and she was considered a social butterfly, smart as a whip, and she did quite well for herself in D.C. And no way could you call my mother's family hicks--my grandmother was my hometown librarian, and everybody knew librarians weren't hicks. Also, my grandmother had published two books of poetry and everybody with a high-school education knew poets weren't hicks. My grandmother later published a novel and damn near everybody knew novelists weren't hicks.
I now assume there could be say hillbilly poets; but hick poets?
"Tobacky juice is red
Horseshit is brown
I gets me a funny feelin'
When you I'se around
You smell like horseshit
You tastes like tobacky juice
You's so my kind'a woman
I thinks I loves me some of you'se"
I'm mocking my hick friends of course--I threw in some Brooklynese there in that last line--hey, Brooklyn has its hicks--but there are no hillbillies in Brooklyn--and if there are, they're like Elvis impersonators, fakes. Brooklyn has bums. Da bums. Now, perhaps one could consider a bum an urban hick. A trashbilly. There are canyons in New York City but no mountains--and what hills there are are concrete hills hardly noticeable when your speeding up a hilly street like Park Avenue say in a limo. Bums who pick through the vast garbages of NYC could be called "trashbillies."
I must mention "clodhoppers," too. A clodhopper, of course, is any farmer who's so poor he has to do his own plowing with a mule if he's dirt poor or a swaybacked horse if he's plusher-than-the average-clodhopper. With the advent of tractors, the clodhopper has just about disappeared--except in countries like China, or Vietnam, or India--they still have clodhoppers in those countries--and Africa--and I'm sure some peasants in Russia are still ploughing their fields with oxen, yaks, reindeer, mules, horses.
hick (hk) Informal
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
That's a pretty loose definition--I mean, using that definition, I myself could be termed a "hick" by New Yorkers--since even though I've lived here the greatest portion of my life, native New Yorkers still consider me a Texan, a Southerner, a HICK! Son of a bitch, now I'm pissed.
|Noun||1.||hick - a person who is not very intelligent or interested in culture|
rustic - an unsophisticated country person
|Adj.||1.||hick - awkwardly simple and provincial; "bumpkinly country boys"; "rustic farmers"; "a hick town"; "the nightlife of Montmartre awed the unsophisticated tourists"|
provincial - characteristic of the provinces or their people; "deeply provincial and conformist"; "in that well-educated company I felt uncomfortably provincial"; "narrow provincial attitudes"
That's amusing. Bumpkin. OK, a country bumpkin, I've heard that, but can't "bumpkin" apply to just silly clumsy people? "Bumpkinly country boys" looks bumpkinlike to me. And that strange, "The nightlife of Montmartre awed the unsophisticated tourists." So tourists are hicks; and I give a big anti-tourist Amen, Brother! to that statement. Tourists are hicks; they are provincial; they litter my city's streets with garbage--with wrappings from their cheap fast food they gobble on constantly or the wrappings off some cheap piece of "Made in China" NYC souvenir they've just bought at one of the hundreds of Chinese junk shops along Fifth Avenue. Also the air pollution from the hundreds of yokel-hauling tourist buses that now prowl up and down Fifth Avenue rain or shine, only their roofs functional, the bottom sections of these buses empty of seats with just a stairway to the roof, where dumbass tourists sit and listen to a New Yorker who thinks all tourists are hicks spiels out the NYC story--"And over to your right you see the famous Marble Collegiate Church...and if you look very thinly and narrowly, with squinted-up eyes, you can see the lair of thegrowlingwolf...." "Where or where, dear tourist bus driver, show us thegrowlingwolf's lair."
for The Daily Growler