I had a very cool English professor, Dr.T, who happened to be a hardcore Chaucer man. He taught my very first college writing class, a freshman course in composition. Dr. T also didn’t get that during my high school days I had been frequently side-tracked by a blond cheerleader, meaning I tragically missed the chapter on Chaucer. That might explain why I felt compelled to perpetually lobby Dr. T that the point where a creative thought is and where it ultimately finds voice, defies any notion of linearity. This is an important concept, especially if you have aspirations of becoming a board certified bull-shit artist like me. (Editor’s note: I can show you too how to make a pant-load of money in the chain-yanking business.)
So in the fall of ’68 I set my sights on writing a creative account for Dr. T’s class about the funny sayings I had heard while cruising along the indigenous super-slab called the Ozarks. My premise and thesis was brilliantly simple; Ozarkian’s (species: hillbillium glorioskium, a.k.a, the common hillbilly) are genetically wired to amplify their thoughts. As Chaucer observed, ““By nature, men love newfangledness.” So what then of the hillbilly? Consider this especially cogent illustration; It is a hot, muggy, late July afternoon. The normal person might simply offer, “It’s really hot.” A true Ozarkian would likely tell you, “Oh yeah? Listen mister, it’s hotter than a festered udder.” But if he is really on his game he will likely field-dress your under characterization of the weather by telling you, “Hot? Why it’s hotter than a freshly de-flocked fox in a forest fire fool.” Now that’s hot.
Are there other examples of Ozarkian amplification? What happens when love finds a true native Ozarkian in rut season? Chaucer noted, “Filth and old age, I’m sure you will agree, are powerful wardens upon chastity.” Rhetorical child’s play to the common hillbilly. The Chaucer inspired hillbilly would lavishly suggest, “Hooeeee, I’d crawl 40 miles over broken glass, swim through a water-moccasin filled creek at midnight night, just to sniff the tire track of the truck that takes her drawers to the laundry.” Ah sweet hillbilly love. Yet another amplification approaching hall of fame status: “Ugly? UGLY? She’s so ugly they had to tie a pork-chop around her neck just to get the dog to play with her.” Even by Ozarkian amplification standards that’s pretty ugly. I too can’t help but fire off an occasional amplified thought. So on the very first day of Spring we had a snow and ice storm prompting me to say, “Whoa Nelly, I’ll just bet it is going to be colder than a well-diggers knee in the Klondike.” After all it was that first great common hillbilly, Chaucer who said, “The greatest scholars are not usually the wisest people.”