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~ By Courtesy of Others ~

 

BUBBAMAL

Translated by Ben "Bubba" Waggoner

1. Keep your radar detector on, bubba,
whenever you're doin' 90 down Route 65,
'cuz you never can tell where that goddamn Searcy County patrol cop
is gonna be hidin' in the bushes.

2. Hey, y'all! When somebody comes visitin',
give 'em a seat by the goddamn TV,
so they kin watch the pro wrasslin'.
They might be in a hurry or somethin'.

3. Somebody who's been out huntin' deer on the first day of season
is prob'ly gon' be thirsty, and maybe half frozen, too.
He's gonna want him some good fried taters'n'onions, a coupla Bud Lites,
and probably need to change his muddy cammos.

4. If someone comes over for dinner, give him a beer,
let him wash his hands, and feed him till he's full as a tick.
Treat him decent and respectful,
and y'all can shoot the shit 'bout anything.

5. Now, y'cain't act like a dumbass when you're visitin' people,
even if you're a couch potato when you're sittin' in your own double-wide.
You stand around with your mouth hangin' open,
folks are gonna think you're dumb as a box of hammers.

6. But don't try'n'talk too high and mighty, neither;
just shut the hell up, keep your damn ears peeled and listen.
Watch your ass, use the sense that the Gods done gave you,
and you'll come out OK, even if you're out somewhere in BFE.
Ain't no better friend for a man
than a good head on your shoulders.

7. When you go over to someone else's house,
if you're smart, you'll listen to the conversatin'
and maybe find out somethin' you need to know.

8. I reckon you're doin' all right for yourself
If you kin get most people t'like you,
'Cuz you can't always trust other folks
When they try and give you advice.

9. I reckon you're doin' all right for yourself
If you got you some brains and use 'em,
'Cuz sometimes some goddamn sumbitch tries to screw you over
By givin' you stupid advice.

10. Whether you're huntin',
or goin' down t'Jonesboro for a family reunion,
or wherever the hell you're travelin',
ain't nothin' better you kin pack than your horse sense.
'S better'n bringin' money
if you're goin' somewhere you ain't never been.

11. No matter where you're travelin' to,
ain't nothin' better you kin pack than your horse sense.
But 'bout the worst thing you kin do on a trip
is drink too much beer.

12. Now, that Lite Beer may have a third less calories than regular beer,
but it still ain't as good for you as some folks will tell ya,
'cuz the more you drink, the more buzzed you get,
until you're drunker'n'Cooter Brown and talkin' out yer ass.

13. I mean, you feel like some big ol' bird done shit on you
when you get really wasted and cain't remember what the hell you done.
Hell, the last time Gunnloth had one of her barbecues,
I still don't remember how I ended up nekkid as a jaybird in the front yard,
with a traffic cone coverin' up my Big Jim and the twins.

14. And then there was the time I got drunker'n'a sailor on leave
over at my old buddy Fjalar's.
You really have a better time at a party
when you ain't so tanked up that you're runnin' into trees.

15. Even if you come from some high-and-mighty family,
so high-falootin' that you got DirectTV in your triple-wide,
don't flap yer yap about it.
Be brave and don't be stupid,
and it don't hurt to be generous, neither.

16. Damn fools think that if they don't get into fights,
they'll live to be older'n'baseball,
but hell, even if they don't get shot,
they still die of clogged arteries or cancer or some other damn thing.

17. Damn fools go to family reunions and church picnics
and just stare at people with their mouth open like they was catchin' flies.
You give one of them people a shot of your Jim Beam, get 'em talkin',
and you'll find out exactly what kinda shit they got for brains.

18. You gotta get out and see a bit of the world,
even travel out of state,
if you want to really get to know what folks are like.
'Course, it helps if you've got some sense, yourself.

19. Don't hog the iced tea pitcher, either pour you some or pass it,
and either say what you got to, or shut the hell up.
You can always nod off during the fourth quarter of Monday Night Football;
at least that way nobody'll think you're an idjit.

20. Now there's some folks who, you set 'em at a church picnic,
and they grab the tater salad and chocklit cake like they was out of  their minds;
people are gonna think you ain't got no self-control
if you go around stuffin' your face like you had a hollow leg.

21. Even my granddaddy's cows could figure out
when it was time to quit eatin' grass and go in the barn;
but that jackass who's always ahead of me in line at the Holiday Inn Sunday buffet
never has figured out when to take it easy on the fried chicken.

22. And let me tell you about them idiots
who're always laughin' like hyeeners at stupid shit;
they ought to realize that they ain't exactly prizes,
but they ain't figured that one out yet.

23. Then there's the poor dumb bastard who tosses and turns all night,
nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockin' chairs,
worryin' about how in hell he's goin' to make the payment on his new Ford F-150.
Sun comes up, and he's still got his problem, plus now he's plumb tuckered out.

24. And I know this other dumbshit who comes over to drink beer with us hillbillies
and thinks that 'cause we're laughing, we're his friends.
Not bein' exactly the sharpest axe in the woodpile,
he ain't figgered out yet that we're laughing at him for bein' a dumbass.

25. This same guy who comes over to drink beer with us hillbillies
thinks that 'cause we're laughing, we're his friends.
But when he got his sixth divorce from Ellie May --
no, Ellie Sue, her name was --
or was that Sue Ellen?
Anyway, his lawyer went lookin' for character witnesses,
and ain't nobody 'round here was willin' to testify.

26. And I seen some folks who think they know every damn thing
as long as they're sittin' back watchin' Jeopardy reruns,
but you try axin' 'em some real question,
and they look at you like you'd grown three heads.

27. I don't mind fools comin' round here,
as long as they keep their yaps shut.
I mean, nobody's goin' to think you're some kinda re-tard
unless you start talkin' like one.

28. But if you got a lick of sense, y'gotta ask people what they think,
and know how to answer 'em back.
'Cuz, I mean, people are gonna talk about ya;
y'cain't hardly stop 'em from doin' that.

29. And if you got any sense at all, you'll know when to shut up
and not keep talkin' a bunch of bullshit.
If you can't shut your goddamn mouth sometimes,
it's really gon' mess you up.

30. And when someone comes over for Sunday dinner,
even if he's kinfolks, don't make fun of him.
Often times, if you just keep quiet, people'll think you're smarter than you really are,
and that way, you don't get sucked into stupid arguments and all that shit.

31. I mean, some people might think it's funny
if you start pickin' on someone else at dinner,
but you never can tell when the guy you're teasin'
is gonna haul off and kick your ass so hard, you'll be tastin' shoe leather for a week.

32. Take Skeeter and Billy-Bob. They used to be good friends,
but ol' Skeet just wouldn't shut up about the goddamn Tennessee Vols,
and Billy's a Razorbacks fan.
Whenever they started talkin' football,
they ended up more'n'half ready to kill each other.

33. It's always best to eat somethin', at least a little snack,
before you go over to watch Pay-Per-View wrestlin' at your cousin's house.
If you're too hungry, you'll just sit there and stuff your face.
Now how are you gonna carry on a conversation that way, with your mouth fulla bean dip?

34. If I have to go see some lyin' sack of shit, even if he lives in the next trailer,
it feels like me havin' to walk from here to Possum Grape, Arkansas.
But it's always an easy trip when you're visitin' decent folks,
even if they really do live way the hell over in Possum Grape, Arkansas.

35. Havin' guests in your house is like bringin' home a big mess of catfish;
after three days they start to stink.
Somebody thinks he can camp out on my sofa and drink my beer for a goddamn week,
and I start hatin' that sonuvabitch.

36. Life ain't so bad long as you got a home,
some place where you can be the king;
even if your so-called "castle" is a burned-out single-wide in a trailer park,
it beats hell outta havin' to sleep on Uncle Zeb's couch.

37. Life ain't so bad long as you got a home,
some place where you can be the king.
Even if Cousin Minnie is perfectly willin' to let you eat with 'em,
it still bugs the hell out of ya to be stuck with takin' charity.

38. Never leave your gun in the gunrack
when you go out somewhere you don't know.
Ain't no tellin' when you might need it.

39. My Grandmaw always cooks up a humongous spread for ev'ryone on Sunday,
but she still likes it if you bring her some jam or biscuits or pie.
My Grandpappy was always a soft touch if you needed a few dollars,
but he didn't exactly object to folks paying him back.

40. If you got you some money, or somethin' nice,
you might as well share it with folks,
'cuz even if you're savin' it up for your family,
the goddamn gubmint's liable to get their hands on it once you're dead.

41. Friends oughta buy presents for each other,
like ammo, new cammo gear and waders.
Folks'll stay pals longest
if they're always swappin' presents with each other.

42. Always be friendly with someone what's a friend to you,
and if they do you a favor, you do them one,
and if they tell you a joke, you can tell 'em one in return.
But if they start bullshittin' you, bullshit 'em right back.

43. Always be friendly with someone what's a friend to you,
and you prob'ly oughta be a buddy to his other friends, too,
but don't get too friendly with somebody
that's friends with somebody you're feudin' with, 'cuz that complicates matters.

44. You say you got someone who you can trust
and y'want to get to know him better?
Well, go talk to him, and find out when his birthday is,
and get him somethin' nice and high-class,
like a pair o' them mudflaps with the nekkid ladies on 'em.
And go out for beers whenever you can.

45. Now, if there's someone that's a goddamn snake in the grass,
but you got to get a favor out of him,
talk nice to him, don't let on that you think he's a dumbshit,
and if he's talkin' bull paddies, you just do the same.

46. If you've got to talk to that goddamn lyin' sack of shit
and you just plain don't trust him,
make some jokes, laugh, but don't tell him what you think of him.
Y'gotta give as good as you get.

47. Once when I was a kid, I had to hitchhike from Solgohatchia all the way up to Yellville,
and it was kind of lonely, me sittin' there on the edge of the blacktop.
Then I met this ol'boy who was goin' the same way, and I didn't feel so bad.
Havin' folks around cheers you up.

48. Now bein' generous and not bein' scared of nothin'
is really the best way to live,
unlike the scaredy folks that're feared of boogers under the bed,
and them greedy sumbitches who get all upset if they gotta buy presents for anyone.

49. I was once makin' these two scarecrows out in the south forty
and had to use my own clothes to put on 'em;
they looked mighty fine, like they was real people,
but I ended up buck nekkid, which was kinda embarrassin' since I wasn't even drunk.

50. A holler tree out in the open
is eventually gonna fall down;
if you got nobody to love you, boy,
you're also gonna fall down and die of lonesomeness.

51. Sometimes you find somebody who seems all friendly,
and for five days you're gettin' along like a house on fire.
Then suddenly you realize that yer friend, falsely so-called,
is really a dumbass.

52. It don't cost nothin' to be nice to people;
sometimes it's the little things that count the most with folks.
I once made me a real good friend
just by offerin' him half a pan of cornbread and half a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

53. Lake Nickajack cain't hold too much sand in it,
and the same goes for the brains inside people's heads.
Ain't nobody who knows everything there is to know;
ever'body's an igneramus 'bout somethin'.

54. And it's probably best if y'don't try
and larn everything that there is to know.
I seed some real smart, college-edjickated people in my time,
and they ain't any happier than me.

55. Yep, it's probably best if y'don't try
and larn everything that there is to know.
I reckon that if y'know how to do lots of stuff,
like raise gold ol' tomaters and make homemade wine,
skin a buck and run a trot line,
then a country boy can survive.

56. One more time: it's probably best if you don't try
and larn ever'thing there is to know.
Y'don't know the future, so y'might as well not worry 'bout it
and get you some sleep.

57. Get you a bunch of them citry-neller torches for your next barbecue,
and light each one from the next one, till you got a whole big ring of them.
That's what talkin' with smart people is like.
But y'never get no good idears from talkin' with a dumbshit.

58. Now if somebody's pissed you off so damn bad
that you've absolutely got to go over with a shotgun and put him out of your misery,
y'better do it early in the mornin', 'fore the county sherriff starts his patrols.
A sleepin' hound dawg never caught any chickens.

59. Unless you're so damn rich that you can afford to hire you one of them janny-torial services,
y'better git up early in the mornin' and start workin.
Half of success is jus' showin' up early.
Snooze, you lose.

60. And if you're smart, you'll know when winter's comin',
and you'll know just how much wood to cut,
and how long to let it season,
so y'don't freeze yer ass off.

61. On Election Day, wash up a little, put on some clean clothes,
go down to the courthouse and just do yer civic duty.
Even if your overalls got holes in 'em and your Charlie Daniels T-shirt's lookin' faded,
or your pickup's got a coupla rust spots and a cracked rear winder,
ain't no shame in that.

62. I seen buzzards circlin' overhead, back and forth,
lookin' for some dead possum or armadillo.
Reminds me of that ol' boy who had to go to court for missin' his child support payments;
he asked ever'body, but couldn't find no one to go with him and confirm his alibi.

63. If you've been cheatin' on your ol' lady
with Emeldine the waitress at the new Flying J Truckstop,
and you cain't keep yer big mouth shut 'bout it,
you could tell one friend and you'll probably be all right.
Tellin' two people is a bad idear,
and if you tell three, you might as well put it in the church bulletin.
In big letters.

64. If y'meet up with folks at the bar and start talkin' politics,
don't start puffin' yerself up like a toad and yellin' at people.
You're likely to find out the hard way
that there's lots of other folks there who's more bad-ass than you.

65. I see it all the time: if you mouth off to somebody,
you're likely to get your ass whupped.

66. I seen folks who come over too early to people's houses to watch the game,
and other times they come over too late.
Sometimes the folks have finished off the keg, other times they ain't even picked it up yet.
Them poor sad sacks cain't do nothin' right.

67. Some folks have this way of invitin' you over for dinner
when you've just finished eatin' not five minutes ago,
or else they expect that you'll bring 'em a couple of six-packs
for every one of theirs that you drink.

68. Here's what's best to have, even better'n a brand-new bass boat:
A warm fire if you're freezin yer ass off, the Sun in the mornin',
good health, if you kin keep it,
and a life you don't have to be 'shamed of.

69. Even if you're 'bout to die, your life ain't necessarily a waste.
Some folks have kids that do 'em proud,
some have good kinfolks, some make plenty of money,
and some folks have done things to be proud of.

70. Life is tough, but it beats hell outta the alternative.
Long as you're alive, there's a chance you'll make out good.
This guy I once knew who'd done well for himself once had him a big bonfire out back,
but it warn't enough to warm up the dead folks over in Pleasant Rest Cemetery next door.

71. Bubba came back from 'Nam in a wheelchair, but he can still drive his Mack truck.
Joe Bob lost his hands in a combine harvester, but he can still run his cattle.
Ol' Cooter cain't hardly hear nothin', but he can still stomp a mudhole on your ass and walk it dry.
My Grandaddy cain't see now, but he says it's still better than bein' cremated.
But when you're dead, y'cain't do shit.

72. It's mighty good to have a son, even if you knock your woman up,
and then her brother shoots yer sorry ass, and the kid's gotta grow up without you.
Some folks' names'd never git spraypainted on overpasses and watertowers
if it wasn't for their kids paintin' 'em there.

73. Two folks'll beat up one ol' boy if he mouths off to 'em,
They hide big-ass fists in the pockets of their cammos.

  74. Don't gotta be feared of the night if you got enough propane to run yer generator,
even though it can git mighty crowded on a bass boat.
But the weather's a sumbitch in the fall;
'round here, in five days it can go from freezin' to burnin',
and in one month it's even worse.

75. Durn fools don't always realize that when folks get lots of money,
they often start actin' stupid.
I mean, some folks is richer'n'possum gravy and some folks is poorer'n'dirt.
That's just the way the world goes.

76. Yer cows'll die someday, yer kinfolks too,
and one day you'll be dead.
But people'll remember your name after you're dead,
if you've done lots of good things for 'em to remember.

77. Yer cows'll die someday, yer kinfolks too,
and one day you'll be dead.
I only know one thing what don't die:
a man's reputation.

78. Hell, I remember back when cuz'n Earl's boys owned a coupla
fireworks stands;
they musta had five Chevy trucks and a big-ass double-wide between them.
Now they're both drawin' the welfare.
Money ain't exactly a loyal friend to people.
It up and leaves you, faster'n'a truck-stop floozy in a Hank Williams  Jr. song.

79. When a goddamn fool gets a good job and makes money,
or when he gets some woman to move in with him,
he don't get no smarter, he just gets his head swelled all high and mighty.
Like my ol' Grandpappy said, "That speck on top of chicken shit may
look a little different, but it's still chickenshit."

 

© Ben Waggoner 
 

Author´s Notes:
The "Bubbamal" is mostly written in, or at least inspired by, a slightly silly version of Central Arkansan dialect. Plus I threw in some West Louisianan. 

 

Ben Waggoner has translated numerous Old Norse Sagas. His books on Lulu.
 

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