Dargan is definitely one of those special small places that still remains old school in that everyone knows everyone and you can’t keep your business private very long. A lot of country singers seem to think they come from a place like where I’m from but one makes me think of home every time I hear him: Brantley Gilbert. Maybe it’s just because I’m a member of the BG nation but I’m pretty sure he’d fit right in (and I know at least 5 girls who would gladly welcome him).
He may have been “brought up in a small town in North Georgia” but he could have been writing the Dirt Road Anthem about our small town in Western Maryland. It’s where we all learned to “kiss and cuss and fight” and we all know to watch out for them boys in blue. There aren’t many of us who can say they haven’t had run-ins with the cops in Dargan (Ok, probably everyone under the age of 14 but that’s about it). We’re always chillin’ down them back roads (umm, especially when that’s my road’s name) and having smoke rollin’ out the window with an ice cold beer in the console. And BG thinks he like cornbread and biscuits? Obviously he has never been around here. We don’t just like our cornbread and biscuits, we love them…and every other down home southern food you can think of. And we always make too much for just our family. Why? Because you never know when someone is going to just pop in for dinner or if you feel the need to drop someone’s house to give them some. There isn’t a single one of us who didn’t “grow up learnin’ to hunt and fish/bust a 12 gauge pump and not miss.” Boy or girl–we can hunt, fish, shoot, and drive a 4-wheeler. Of course, it’s not all good growing up in a small town. BG knows all about that apparently. He can handle “all that small town he said, she said” because “ain’t it funny how rumors spread/ like I know something y’all don’t know/man, this shit is getting old.”
I’m sure when you look like Brantley, got his attitude, and grow up in our kind of town, there isn’t much good seen in you by certain people. But, of course, you have to pick sides in a small town and those on your side will always say stuff like, “Don’t let him fool you. He really is a good boy. Dumbass, just makes some stupid decisions.” It’s probably why most people in a small town live by BG’s theory, “To Hell with all this small town small talk/I’ve had enough/It ain’t their place to judge/Man, I’m giving up/And I said, if you can’t live it down might as well live it up/You live and you learn/And the world’s gonna turn/Ain’t gonna stop for you/And I said, if you can’t live it down might as well live it up/Forgiveness is yours in the hands of the Lord/Ain’t nothing they can do/Hell, live it up.” Everyone’s got their own relationship with the Lord in a small town (You’re always hearing “God bless you” and “Bless your heart” and stuff like that from the older neighbors, trying to understand our generation’s craziness). But when it comes to judgment, we all just let the Lord judge us and basically, tell everyone else to back off or step up.
Brantley seems to be just like every boy that comes from a small town but Dargan would definitely be the place for him–especially if he knows about running moonshine and drinking out of Mason jars. A lot of us have inherited our stills and know to keep away from people with badges or big mouth brothers. And because of that, just like BG, we are the closest thing to Hell our mama’s have ever raised. We’ve all bent some rules and broken some laws (My mama’s just happy neither of them have gotten me into more trouble than it has). I can’t think of many of us who are “bad about sneakin’ out and shootin’ road signs” but I know my parents can’t say much about this one. And anyone who’s grown up in a town this small knows the one who the police just loved driving around. Brantley’s got it right though. All the bad things we’ve done has made us who we are today and we wouldn’t change a thing…plus, I don’t think anyone would disagree that it’s fun bendin’ the rules and breakin’ the laws.
Of course, all the fun doesn’t stop when you leave high school. We know all about kicking it in the sticks. We have our BYOB bonfires where we pop a top and get on up in the truck. We don’t always crank AC/DC, Hank, Skynyrd, and George Strait, though. We usually crank BG, Justin Moore, Chris Young, Miranda Lambert, Toby Keith (okay, this may be because we have Toby Keith #2 throwing the bonfires), and whatever’s on the country station. He’s got what we do at the bonfires right though: “We’ll do a little frog gigging, cow tipping/Now how ’bout a little skinny dipping, bass fishing?/Take it easy on the shine, stay away from other boy’s women/That’s one damn good way for a man to get it whooped down/These boys tough down here/Get your ass tore up down here.” Of course, our parties usually involve a lot of 4-wheeling around the roads and woods though and not a whole lot of fooling with animals (Dargan has a soft spot for animals and don’t mess with our donkey or horse).
Of course, bonfires don’t happen if it’s Friday night–or we reschedule for Saturday–because that’s football night. BG’s town may be a ghost town on Friday night but it doesn’t come close to Dargan…because we have to drive about 30 minutes to get to the game at the high school. And while, yeah the stands will be packed so you better get there early if you want a seat, all the cool kids (okay, the alum and parents) know where the best place to be is: right on the fence. Why? So the players (okay, the refs) know what’s up and we’re sure they can hear us. Everyone in that complex has said a prayer to the Lord at some point, whether it was at Church, in the car ride over, or while the game is going on, in hopes that we’ll win because at BHS, winning States (Yes, we say States even though it’s only one state) would be a miracle. Our boys on the field don’t have to think about battle cries from the heroes of the past because every jock is still wearing their varsity jackets to the game and that rival game absolutely means more than anything. In Warrior country, football ain’t just a game, it is a religion.
And obviously, no small town would be complete without boys who know who to fight (and girls, too, for that matter). Our boys do it right. They take it outside because there are girls around (it’s not exactly rare for one of them girls to be the reason for the fight). BG would fit right in if it wouldn’t be the first time he put a scar on his knuckles and would be glad to stomp someone’s ass. That’s how it goes around here.
Brantley, I’m sure, would feel at home in Dargan since he knows CMBACW. Country has to be a country wide or else he wouldn’t know what goes through all our minds every single time we see a license plate from Ohio (or any state that isn’t Maryland or West Virginia or someone we know belongs here). He seems to be reading our minds (or at least mine) because he, too, thinks “Oh good Lord, he’s lost.” Like us, he grew up south of the Mason Dixon, grew up workin’, spittin’ (ok, not me because it’s gross), huntin’ and fishin’. We like Cash, Hank, Willie, and Waylon. Our boys like Wranglers. But I can one up BG on this one. Old Hank may have been right when he said, “Country folks can survive.” But, my love, good old Charlie Daniels topped that one (hmmm, I’ve seen this good ol’ boy rock. Maybe we should invite him to Dargan too) with “In America.” Charlie warned everyone about trying to lay their hand on a Pittsburgh Steeler fan (Damn straight, just try and see what happens) and he told them Russians (okay, maybe it’s a little outdated but it still fits) to go straight to Hell.
I know a lot of people who think growing up in a small town sucks and they were itching to get out the minute we graduated (and these people were all from neighboring towns that were bigger than mine) but I love it. I wouldn’t give living where I live for any place with more stuff to do. If I need something to do, I can get in my car and drive. It ain’t going to kill me. But when I come home, I know I’ve got a town with just as much going on (read: drama) and a ton of people who care about each other and live in that good country way. But if BG ever did come to Dargan, I have a feeling a whole lot more drama would be going on and a whole lot of people who care about me would be fighting with me because there wouldn’t be no way on God’s green earth that I would let any other girl get that boy.