If push comes to shove, will Quebecntake a walk? Plainly some separatistsnhave been looking for an excuse, and itnmay be that Canada is finally as untenablenan idea as, say, the Soviet Union.nNot long ago Time magazine wasnsaying confidently that prosperity hadnundermined Quebec nationalism, butnau contraire, mes amis, it may merelynhave given the secessionists the resourcesnthey need to pursue their goalneffectively. Montreal is now an impressivencity, Quebec is an impressive province,nand far more sorry excuses fornnations are voting in the United Nations.nAmericans should be grateful fornthe fact that Canada has been a goodnneighbor for a long time, but it’s not fornus to say what’s best for another democracy.nIf Canada did dissolve into itsnconstituent parts, would it be bad fornanyone other than the bureaucrats innOttawa? I wonder.nComing back to Vermont fromnMontreal we stopped in St. Albans tonread the historical marker commemoratingnthe October day in 1864 that 22nCSA troopers appeared in that town tongive some startled New Englanders antaste of what was going on in Georgianat the time, robbing three banks andnstealing some horses before fleeing tonCanada. (You take your victories wherenyou find them, OK?) I’m sorry to saynthat in 1990 nobody in St. Albans gavenour North Carolina license plates ansecond look.nSpeaking of license plates, on thatnsame drive I realized that I hadn’tnnoticed any vanity plates in Vermont. Inwas working up a theory about thriftynYankees who don’t see the point ofnspending good money to tell strangersnwhat wild and crazy guys they are,nwhen I was passed at high speed by twoncars in a row. The first said “SNAKE,”nthe second “OUTLAW.” I felt right atnhome. (Shortly after that I saw a prettynfull complement of cutesy plates in thenuniversity town of Burlington. Sonmuch for my theory.)nEarlier, in Jonestown, Pennsylvania,nafter we’d stopped at the Buck Inn tondrink draft Yeungling and eat fresh fishnwith my wife’s cousin, our teenager,nwho is only occasionally a good traveler,nhad grumbled from the backseatnthat we didn’t have to drive this far tonsee rednecks. Of course I made hernwash her mouth out with soap, but shenwas actually on to something. It’s truenthat the whitetail deer hunters andntheir girifriends at the Buck had funnynaccents, but the music on the jukeboxnand the humor at the bar were prettynmuch what you’d find in taverns fromnSouthside Virginia to Texas. I didn’tnmeet Snake and Outiaw (they werenmoving too fast), but I presume they’renthe spiritual — maybe the literal — descendantsnof the rednecks who constitutednthemselves the Green MountainnBoys and pulled off an operation atnTiconderoga that John Mosbynwouldn’t have been ashamed ofnA Hank Williams Jr. song on thenBuck’s jukebox reminded us that countrynboys come from “littie towns allnacross this land.” And from Pennsylvanianto Vermont, small-town G.A.R.nmonuments reminded us that thesenparticular country boys, with theirncousins from Ohio and Michigan,nkicked Confederate butt in the earlyn1860’s — so effectively that one observernremarked that if he had Confederatencavalry and Union infantry hencould whip any army on earth. But tonjudge from the number of rebel flags Inspotted on pickups and T-shirts somenof them won’t make the same mistakennext time. (By the way, the flag isnincorporated in the sign for the FieldsnTavern, in Lorain County, Ohio, notnfar from Cleveland. When I passed bynin September the Reverend Ed Wojnakowskinwas preaching at the “IndependentnFundamental Baptist” churchnnext door.)nNorth or South, Hank Jr.’s countrynboy is the small-town or rural versionn— sometimes found as a first- or second-generationnmigrant to some city,ntoo — of the American “high prole”nthat Paul Fussell described in his booknClass. These men have their skills:nconsequently “they have pride and anconviction of independence, and theynfeel some contempt for those who havennot made it as far as they have.” Theynalso feel some contempt for the middlenclass. As one said to Fussell: “If my boynwants to wear a goddamn necktie allnhis life and bow and scrape to somenboss, that’s his right, but by Cod henshould also have the right to earn annhonest living with his hands if that isnwhat he likes.” Fussell argues that highnproles have much in common withnaristocrats besides scorn for the bourgeoisie.nHe cites their lack of concernnwith social climbing, their unromanticnnnattitudes toward women, “their devotionnto gambling and their fondness forndeer hunting” — in general, their tendencynto make games and sports thencentral concern of their lives.nBe that as it may, V.S. Naipaul wasncertainly taken with the breed when henencountered them in his travels, describednin A Turn in the South. AnMississippi informant helped him “seenpride and style and a fashion codenwhere I had seen nothing, made mennotice what so far I hadn’t sufficientlynnoticed: the pickup trucks dashinglyndriven, the baseball caps marked withnthe name of some company.” At thenend, Naipaul gets downright lyricalnabout this “tribe, almost an Indianntribe, wandering freely over emptynspaces.” This view, he says, “gave newnpoetry to what one saw on the highway.”nNaipaul actually has a point (althoughnit’s tempting to make fun ofnhim), but it won’t do to romanticizenthese guys. They can be belligerent,nsometimes for cause — and nothingnmakes them more belligerent thanncondescension — and sometimes justnfor the hell of it. A middle-class kid likenme, growing up in East Tennessee,nlearned to be wary. Still, if there’sngoing to be a fight, you want them onnyour side. And it may be that, as anrecent, belligerent Charlie Danielsnsong has it, “What This Worid NeedsnIs a Few More Rednecks” — that is, “anlittie more respect for the Lord and thenlaw and the working man.”nI’m writing this from California,nrecently arrived for an extended visit,nand I’m still on the lookout for thenWest Coast version. We stopped fornbreakfast one morning in Davis, in thenCentral Valley, and eavesdropped on anconversation between two workingnmen in the next booth. As trucksnloaded with tomatoes rumbled by outside,nthe one with the tattoos wasnsaying that he used to be afraid ofnmarriage because it was such a permanentncommitment, but now that henrealizes it’s not permanent he isn’tnafraid of it anymore. Later, his buddynurged him to take some time to gonfishing and get in touch with himself Indon’t know about this.nJohn Shelton Reed is Uving in PalonAlto this year, a stranger in a strangenland.nDECEMBER 1990/45n