Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Southern Fried Living

Life in the South is like living in a world of its own. Things are different down here than they are up north. People are different. For instance, life is slower. I can always tell a transplanted Yankee by the way they drive. Down here, when a red light turns green, we sit there for a little while, waiting. I'm not sure what we are waiting for, maybe in case some big old truck on monster tires is about to turn in front of us. Or maybe we are too busy eating boiled peanuts to even have noticed the light has changed. A southern driver knows this. A Yankee honks their horn.

Rule one, do not ever, ever honk your horn at a southerner. (The one exception is if you see one of those bumper stickers that says 'HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS.' But, even still, if you have a northern license plate, y'alled be better off laying off your horn.) We will do one of two things. We will sit there longer to teach you a lesson or we will get out of our car and approach you:

"Y'all honk your horn at me? what fer?"

At this point the northern driver is nonplussed. He does not know how to deal with the sudden lack of anonymity.

"The light turned green."

"So? Whats yer point?"

"Well, you didn't go."

At this point the southern driver might wipe his nose on his sleeve, brush corn bread crumbs left over from lunch off his bib overalls and glance into the distance.

"Y'all are gonna come down here from the north and tell me when I have to go?"

By now the northerner has figured out that he should have just kept his mouth shut. The moral of this is, do not try to hurry a southerner. He will move when he's good and ready.

One reason he might just sit there is so he has an opportunity to rev his engine. Car engines are a bit different down here. They make noise. Loud noise. I'm not a mechanic but I know people here spend good money attaching something to their exhausts..or whatever..in order to increase the level of noise. It's a status thing and one of the few opportunities to show off your loud truck is when a light turns green.

Speaking of trucks, there's another tradition down here. Teens, 'most anywhere else, spend their evenings driving up and down the main drags of many cities. Not here. Here they all head down to the local Home Depot parking lot. They get their beer and the trucks line up on one side of the lot and the cars line up across from them and and they sit there and guzzle the beer and stare at each other. Periodically they will rev their loud engines to let everyone know how tough they are. When they have drunk all of the beer, they go home. We parents know where our kids are. We see them down at the Home Depot parking lot.

Okay, let's head on to language. We talk different here. We say things like 'y'all.' Now y'all is both singular and plural. Y'all might just be 'you.' Or it might refer to a bunch of you. One way to differentiate is to say' All of y'all.' But it is not said like that here. We say 'Alla-y'all. Run it together is what is meant to mean 'All of you all' has now become one word. Alla-y'all. So, lets say I'm talking to a bunch of neighbors. One of them has just had her hair frosted. I want to tell her how much I like it (even if I don't like it at all. Southerners are full of BS if it makes us appear to be charming.)
I would say "Y'alls hair is nice."
Now, let's say they've all had their hair frosted.
I would say, "Alla-y'alls hair is nice."
I think you understand by now.

Another thing is our use of quirky colloquialisms. I recently messaged my English friend Sheila (who is now in India) about her blog and something that was going on over there.. "Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!" I wrote. She wrote me back and told me, "that had me in stitches, Beej. Not a phrase I'd ever heard, so funny." Down here, folks grow up hearing that and don't even give it a second thought.

Speaking of boiled peanuts..I don't know if these are readily available up north. They are just what they say they are..peanuts boiled in their shells in big vats usually by the side of the road.

I won't even try to explain how they taste because I don't think I can. They're very unique. Anyway, a northerner might take a boiled peanut and shell it. Nonononononononono!! You do not shell a boiled peanut. You stick it, still in its shell, into your mouth and suck on it. After you get all or most of the unique taste out of it, THEN you chew off the shell, toss the shell away and eat the peanut. That how you do it. It's an unwritten law. Southerners eat tons of peanuts because there are so many of them here. They are rotated with the cotton crop and so, if the soil is to be replenished in order to grow a healthy crop of cotton, there will always be an abundance of peanuts.

Let's move on to beverages. And no, I'm not taking moonshine (tho there is always the king of it all, Everclear, around.) I'm talking tea. Do not come down here and order iced tea. We will laugh at you. It's 'sweet tea.' And it's the best. You do not make sweet tea in a kitchen here. You make it outside, in a big jug, set in the sun. Up north it's referred to as Arizona sun tea. Down here its' sweet tea.

The list of unique southern ways goes on and on. The biggest, and one we don't usually talk about with northerners, is that y'all think the war is over. The civil war. It's not. We have long memories here, even if none of us were born yet. We know you whupped us. So what?

Regardless of all I have written, I want to end this with one more southern 'thang.' Hospitality. Southern hospitality. We are a charming lot and as such, no matter how fast you move, or no matter who won the war, we love company. Y'all come visit and we will sit on the back veranda and sip sweet tea. And when you leave, we will tell you,

"Y'all oome back real soon!"


  1. Things are different down here than they are up north.

    True, but I've been in plenty of mad traffic down there where everyone was in a hurry, like up here. Well, like up here in the bigger cities, it's pretty laid back here in Monkeyville even though some of them think I drive too damn slow.

    Anyway, never saw boiled peanuts for sale the times I've been in that area. But the two years I spent in Florida a couple of the local boys and I made some moonshine.

    It tasted like shit but once you got past that it sure got you drunk fast.

  2. Do ya'll say- yer fixin' to go...??

    Do ya'll say-I'll tell you what!


  3. I've eaten many a boiled peanut.

    I once took one of those quizes we used to do at Constant Reader...called "what english do you speak" and I was %25 Dixie!

    I also am like a southerner...do NOT honk your horn at me. People are crazy and controlly with their horns. Pet peeve...don't even sit outside my house and beep your horn hoping to call me, out. You better knock on my door and come in for a cup of tea!

  4. You sound like my DADDY..... LOL.... Now y'all have to come meet me and my family up North...LOL>.. I am far from a southerner... I was born and raised up North but my dad is from Texas....He still talks like that once in a while.. Esp after he came home from being with my grandfather while he was in the Hospital and passed away...

  5. Boiled Peanuts????

    I'm dead.

    Got a mild nut allergy.

    I can eat stuff with nuts in the menu but owt obvious like Marathon Choccie bars and I go into ep..eplec...whatever shock.

    I fucking hate NUTS!!!!

    ...so there

  6. Know what, Four? I hate boiled peanuts myself.


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