We arrived a few minutes early to our scheduled meet time and eyed every black truck suspiciously as the potential drop. It started a few weeks prior when my daughter and I were looking at home interior designs and discovered the popular Victorian trend of decorating with majestic peacocks often perched atop a grand mantle or cozy library bookcase. We quickly decided our home needed a peacock as well, but preliminary online searching had our wallets saying something else. $8,000-$10,000??? Who knew taxidermy was so expensive! Because of our Christmas budget ceiling, we lowered our expectations to a possum…and then to a squirrel. Lucky for me, Facebook Marketplace listed an affordable one and we arranged a meeting--Lowe’s parking lot at high noon. It was glorious when a perky little stuffed squirrel standing on wormy chestnut emerged from the drop-off truck. I handed the seller $30 and walked away with a big smile on my face. My daughter, who was filming the entire exchange from the back seat, commented “This is the most redneck thing we’ve ever done.”
I’m generally okay with the term redneck. It’s evolved over time to mean many different things. Originally it described farmers working in fields getting their necks sunburned. Then in the early 1900’s in West Virginia, coal miners wore red bandannas as a sign of solidarity as they fought for social justice and a better life out from under the harsh (and armed) control of big coal companies. This helped identify who was on their side when gun fighting ensued. And now? Well, it depends on whom you ask. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy made it humorous and acceptable to laugh at our rural nuisances in his bits that began “You might be a redneck if ...” And while outsiders might use the term in a derogatory manner, there are many who proudly self-identify with it.
The neck name we really need to be avoiding is “stiff-necked”. Neck stress is such a common issue these days with what they call tech-neck, which we get from looking down at our phones all the time. One of the finest husbands in the world who shall remain nameless was fussing about his aching neck muscles and happened to read that changing sleep positions would help. So he slept upside down with his head where his feet should be and his unsuspecting wife woke up to his big ole man feet in her face. They were also doing a rhythmic sleep jig on her lavish My Pillow which did not bode well either. While this situation might depict a pain in the neck, it’s not the kind of stiff neck the bible talks about.
The scriptural stiff-neck which makes God angry was a term biblical people understood because they saw how a stubborn ox would refuse to turn its head and take a different path even at the coaxing of its master. Humans likewise can be difficult. Here are some clues: You might be a stiff-necked person if you:
If you find yourself suffering from “stiff neck” like I do from time to time, a remedy is in Proverbs 3:3. “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee; bind them around thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart.”
Happy New Year everyone! May 2021 bring blessings to your neck of the woods!It just might be the year we Fliegels look into raising peacocks…
Janet Cowger- Fliegel