One of the “oldies” of country music I love is “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.” Back when it was a hit, I could identify with most every sentiment found in the song, including, pardon my old age, “singing with Roy Rogers at the movies.” It spoke to the small-town life I sometimes longed for in 1981, even as I forged full-speed ahead into life as a career woman and young mother. Circling the drive-in, turning up George Jones, putting peanuts in my Coke – these were all just a small skip back in time for me then.
Recently, one of those infernal-yet-I-still-do-them Facebook “quizzes” was posted by an old friend. It would determine whether you were “a little country, pretty much country or bonafide country.” There were 40 questions that you answered Yes or No.
I could only answer Yes to 32 of the 40, making me pretty much country. In a testament to how country I really am, I was insulted by that score. Some of the ones I had to truthfully answer No seemed very slanted toward the menfolk, as we country girls would say. Siphon gas with a water hose? Split wood with an axe? Got shocked by an electric fence?
In protest, I have added 12 more to MY list of saying Yes to being Country. This raises my score to 44 out of 52, from 80 percent to 85. Bonafide Country!
The original 40 questions are:
Have you ever:
- Owned pellet or BB gun as a kid?
- Owned a real gun?
- Shot a real gun?
- Gone squirrel or rabbit hunting?
- Gone fishing?
- Owned or used a sling shot?
- Plucked a chicken?
- Gathered wild ginseng?
- Eaten deer meat?
- Eaten frog legs?
- Fed a baby farm animal with a bottle?
- Gathered fresh eggs?
- Driven a stick shift?
- Started a vehicle using a manual choke?
- Shamelessly rode around town in the back of a pick-up truck?
- Shucked corn?
- Waded barefoot in a creek?
- Caught fireflies in a jar at night?
- Tasted wild honeysuckle?
- Gathered wild blackberries?
- Used an outhouse?
- Rode a horse?
- Smelled the scent of cured tobacco hanging in tobacco barn?
- Taken the ashes out of a wood stove?
- Carried in wood?
- Walked barefoot down a gravel or dirt road?
- Slept in a tent?
- Been attacked by a rooster?
- Eaten raw apple, potato or turnip off the blade of a pocket knife?
- Dipped skoal or chewed chewing tobacco?
- Eaten homemade snow ice cream?
- Used a pump to draw water from a well?
- Been on a hayride?
- Jumped into a pile of raked leaves?
- Carved your initials into the side of a tree?
- Sucked on the end of an old piece of water hose in order to siphon gas out of a gas tank?
- Been shocked by an electric fence?
- Split wood with an ax?
- Hung laundry outside on a clothes line to dry?
- Eaten fried bologna?
Now, add my 12:
- Shelled a “mess” of purple hull peas?
- Washed clothes in a wringer washer?
- Eaten chitlin’s?
- Spent a while day “sledding” on cardboard down a red clay gully?
- Spent the night in a tornado storm cellar?
- Climbed your hometown water tower to spray paint your initials on it?
- Learned to drive at age 14 on the tractor?
- Took your turn at the churn on the carport when making ice cream?
- Made a cake or pie in the morning in case friends pop in for a visit?
- Sat at the funeral home all day with a departed loved one because “receiving friends” hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.?
- Had a home phone that was on a party line?
- Bought liquor from a bootlegger?
Have fun determining your own Cool Country score!
Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.