Friday, May 27, 2011
Everything you wanted to know about Southerners but thought we were too dumb to actually answer
This may come as a total surprise to you, but not everyone born in the South is stupid. Shocking, I know. As someone born and raised in what I affectionately call the Armpit of America, it has been a constant battle to prove to folks born outside of the land of tobacco and cotton that I am not as dumb as a box of hair. It doesn't help that my former governor thinks the Appalachian Trail is in Argentina and that our teenage beauty pageant contestants can't speak coherently when asked a simple question. (Don't fret, Miss Teenage South Carolina, I always call myself a US American.) There was actually a time in my life when I tried to hide the fact that I was a small town Southern girl, thinking that it somehow lowered me down a rung on the great step ladder of life. Not any more, though, because for all of you people who aren't related to someone called by their first and middle names (i.e. Mary Jo, Bobby Lee, Sue Ellen, Jim Bob), I'm here to dispel the myths around what it's like to be a True Southerner.
First of all, it has to be said that we are a very proud group of people. Do you have a license plate with your state flag on it adorning the front of your car? I do. As a matter of fact, there is quite a market for items with the Palmetto State's flag on it. You can find it on everything from shot glasses to sun glasses, flip flops to bikini tops. Visit any Cracker Barrel in the South, and you'll find another genius merchandising idea: G.R.I.T.S. - the acronym for Girls Raised In The South. Don't forget the Seasoned G.R.I.T.S. - Grandmothers Raised In The South. And, you can't spit without hitting a bumper sticker with phrases like, "American by birth, Southern by the grace of God". Do you think people in South Dakota give a fist pump while shouting, "WOOHOO! The upper midwest is gonna rise again"? Doubtful.
Here are a few more truths about us sweet-tea-drinking Southerners that may surprise you...
1. Our men wear shirts. I promise! Please realize that when news happens, the reporters and camera crew scan the crowd to see if anyone is shirtless. Finding no one, they "accidentally" spill coffee on the one guy with bad teeth and a baseball cap. Presto! You've got your bare-chested redneck guy camera ready. Don't believe everything you see on "COPS" or "The Real Police Women of Broward County".
2. We don't all carry guns and have banjo music playing in the background. Now, don't get me wrong. There is a heavy NRA presence in the South, but for many of us, a collection of Nerf guns is about as strong-armed as it gets. Oh, and while I do enjoy bluegrass music occasionally, I rarely sport denim overalls, I have all my teeth, and I would only make you squeal like a pig if you asked me nicely.
3. Some Southerners can actually drive in the snow. This is such a controversial topic that I nearly skipped over it. Here's the thing - NO ONE can drive on ice, except those "Ice Road Truckers" guys, and I'm still not convinced that's real. The next time there is a big snowstorm up north, notice how many accidents you see on news footage...just as many as in the South! I truly believe that Nanook of the North drives just fine when the ice and snow is piled to the side of the road, but seeing as how we are sorely lacking snow removal equipment where the palm trees grow, it's going to be squirrel-y until the sun comes out. Stupid drivers can come from Minnesota or Georgia, regardless of the weather. What do Southerners do on the rare snow day? We aren't all out driving. We stay home to make chili and corn bread while drinking all the milk we hoarded the day before.
4. Some of us eat food that isn't greasy, fried, from a swamp, or road kill. I have NEVER eaten Cooter Stew (that's turtle stew if you're not from 'round these parts), and frog legs will not ever pass over my lips. I haven't cooked fried chicken (or fried anything for that matter) in my entire life. I rarely eat grits, and I do not condone putting Sundrop in your baby's bottle. I understand that filet mignon should not be ordered "well done" with ketchup on the side, and I do not consider fried pork rinds the breakfast of champions.
5. We are not all racists. I like to believe - no, I must believe - that we have moved forward, and to quote Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that".
I love the South, one of the few places where you call your father "Daddy" until you both have gray hair. Yes, we talk funny, but here even insults are accepted graciously as long as a "bless her heart" punctuates the sentence. We "glow" under the blazing summer sun, eat Duke's mayonnaise on our white bread and 'mater sandwiches, and clothe our little girls in monogrammed dresses. Nothin' could be finer than to be in Carolina...y'all come back now, ya hear?