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A curious document fluttered on to my Facebook desk last week purporting to be a list of Redneck Medical Terms.
Of course, having experienced tertiary education, I knew it wasn't really a list of redneck medical terms at all, rather a seething barrel of convoluted puns denigrating people with extremely small brains. A cruel list which I almost destroyed because I believe in all things humane and fair, but didn't because it made me laugh.
I think it is up for debate whether rednecks necessarily have very small brains. I am sure plenty of them aren't too intellectually blessed. The ones Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper ran into in Easy Rider didn't seem too smart, but we musn't generalise. I, for example, had a very red neck for 12 summers in a row as a child because I didn't understand how sunburn worked. None of us did. In fact, most of us assumed it was a rite of passage out of our control, made enjoyable at the other end when peeling off long strips of dead skin. You must understand there wasn't much on the telly back then. You got your excitement where you could.
I would be similarly reluctant to associate a reactionary moral code - the long hair-haters Fonda and Hopper met in their movie, and remember, that scene was real, it happened, it wasn't scripted - with any suggestion of wrong or bad. Nearly 20 years ago, my wife and I went down to Gore for the Gold Guitars, I was doing a piece for The Listener, and they gave us accommodation in the nurses' home. Only we weren't allowed to sleep in the same room. Our friends back in Dunedin saw this as the lowest form of redneckdom extant, but I loved the people at the Gold Guitars. We went back the next year as well. And, yes, I did get to sleep in the same room; I sneaked in late at night and kipped down on the floor. I, at least, respected the one-bed-one-person rule that made nurses' homes such treasured places for all those years.
I am looking at the Redneck List now. A genital is a non-Jewish person, impotent is distinguished and well-known, benign is what you be after you be eight, and a seizure is a Roman Emperor. Fair enough. Heaven forbid we ever descend into those lowly areas of life where we believe an inability to spell is impotent. Text spelling and modern primary school phonetic teaching are already doing this so extensively that soon a spelling mistake will be defined as ''somefing wot yoosed to be rong but is now rite''.
And why stop at medical terms?
I can see this turning into a word game as popular as Scrabble or Man Bites Dog. Form teams, think up a topic and away you go. Music. A string quartet could be a small trampoline, a guitar is an inflammation of the mucus membranes (musical term as medical term as redneck definition) and a cappella is a car that needs a paint. Answers next week.
I am looking at my Facebook list again. A tumour is more than one, bacteria is the back door to a cafeteria, urine is the opposite of you're out, and varicose is nearby. I tell you, rednecks have all the fun. What about computers? Everyone could play this one. A PC is obviously a glass Portaloo, a bit torrent could only be a breeze, a terabyte is eating on the run, and a keyboard is a disinterested prime minister.
Rednecks actually got their name from lower-class Southern American workers getting repeatedly sun-burnt in the fields. I have just looked this up. Maybe they made bad puns while they toiled and laughed so hard they forgot about sun care? My sunburn was excusable, I was a child and didn't know a pun from a sticky date pudding. How about fruit and vegetables? A banana could be an elderly female sheep, lettuce is what our posties will soon be delivering only three times a week, bok choy would be ...
• Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.