Dear Guys I Hunt Ducks With:
You're ruining home for me. After this weekend, I want to pretend I'm from somewhere else. Our generations of heading into the marsh together might be done. You aren't good people at heart. You're racist, inbred shits who shiver in fear of change or challenge.
I doubt you know it, but I used to idolize you all. I wanted so badly for you to think I was "cool." You were always better at sports, more popular with prettier girls, and driving great cars when I rarely got to borrow my mom's rusted, busted-ass "Ford Country Squire" station wagon. You teased me for being insecure and quiet, for liking stuff beyond sports, guns and cars. But for the most part you let me be around you and were never overly cruel or obnoxious to me. You let me in, and I loved you for it like brothers.
Since we were all kids, going duck hunting with you has been a high point in the year. Members of our families have hunted together for three generations. We all know the same stories about these historic trips. Most of you still live out in the "heartland." Those of you who still own farms have to work extra jobs: usually in government - as jail guards, postmen, maintenance guys, part-time firemen or social workers - just to keep things going. I'm aware that it's tough. Most of you didn't go to college like I did. Only two of you who went actually got degrees. None of you served in the military or went to grad school. Several of us have moved away, but we've all made the trips back to go duck hunting as often as we can. I've done so without fail excepting when I was overseas.
Your snide comments about my accomplishments have increased in sharpness every year. Having to quit drinking didn't make use closer, either, it's hard to bond over booze when I'm retired.
Ironically, though, I've pushed myself to "not fail" since I moved away because, at least in part, I still hold myself to the standard I imagine I have to achieve so that you will like me. That was a totally backwards thing to feel, I know, because each new thing I do makes actually us more and more "unlike." But part of me still dreads coming back with my tail between my legs to scorn - so I make sure I always return with stories of achivement.
Since leaving home, and especially when I lived in NYC and SF, I have encountered people who look down on "hicks." I've always rabidly defended you from the snotty remarks of urbanite intellectuals. I've insisted you and others like you the nation over are NOT rednecks, but actually the most reliable and decent people on earth.
I think that's just what I want you to be...and maybe I shouldn't have played the part of your apologist.
Many of you have always said the occasional thing to make me cringe: racist jokes, nasty homophobic or religiously demeaning quips and stories, but I never attributed this to true malice. I had never seen any of you as nasty as I did this weekend:
Katrina jokes; Obama assassination jokes; really shitty religious slurs when we played cards at night, and; a constant harrangue on politics.
I am repelled and ashamed. I feel like explaining how I'm really NOT like you all...and erasing my connections with you and apologising to people for ever having had the urge to be like you. I resent feeling this way - I wish some of you would aspire to be as I imagined you...in the same I aspired to be something I imagined you might admire.
You break my fucking heart and make me want to hide my head...
Longing for some rose-colored glasses,