Jan 14, 2009, 05:27AM

The F Bomb

The author's (extremely long) quest to get to the bottom a certain reality: people actually use the word "folks" in conversation.


My animus against folks is of about a decade-and-a-half’s standing–roughly coinciding with the present extent of my adult life. As a youngster, growing up in exurban intramillennial central Florida, I associated folks with a decidedly spotty melange of people and milieus: broad-as-birchwood depictions of hillbilly life, whether of the televisual Beverlyian or animatronic Disneyan rural ursine variety; certain second-tier old-timey crooners such as Burl Ives; the Po Folks chain of so-called family restaurants; and new-timey country singer Mel Tillis’s commercials for the petroleum vendor FINA (”They’re my kind of f-f-f-folks at FINA” was Mel’s stammering signature line). I cannot recall a single occasion of my minority on which the f-word was used by anyone actually in my presence–whether my parents, my grandparents, my teachers, my principal, my schoolmates (on either side of any so-called tracks), my bus drivers, the school janitor, or, indeed, the homeless dude at the convenience store up the road. In other words, I regarded folks as part of the vernacular not of a particular class of people, but of a certain ontological category thereof; that category being something as pretty darn near close to fictional as one could get beyond spitting distance of a “Once upon a time…” clause.


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