Common stereotypes of the south include everyone being country bumpkins and uneducated, all food is smothered in gravy, racism is everywhere, the women are sickly sweet to your face and a bitch behind your back, everyone carries guns, everyone goes hunting, religious fanaticism, and they're all Republicans. Of those statements, I can say that those stereotypes are false, true, semi-true, definitely true, semi-true, semi-true, semi-true, semi-true and false. Ha! You thought I was going to say they were all false, huh? No, I'm being honest here. The only two of those that are definitely false are the uneducated one and the Republican one, though I'm still arguing with myself on the Republican one.
The south is known for a few dominant things- Southern hospitality, amazing food, and standing firm on the Bill of Rights, whether it be the right to bear arms or the right to religious worship or the right to completely speak your mind.
We'll feed you, too, and yes, most of the time there is gravy involved, or butter, or it's been fried. There is nothing better in this world then starting your day off with a bowl of grits, eggs and bacon, followed by fried chicken and potato salad for lunch, and beef stew over rice smothered in gravy for dinner. Man, my mouth is watering now.
And yes, southern people stand up for their rights. A lot of people in the south hunt, so the right to bear arms is crucial. It's called 'The Bible Belt' for a reason, with a branch of Christianity known as 'Southern Baptist', so, they are quite proud of that aspect of the south. And yes, many will approach you while you are loading groceries into your car at Wal-Mart, wanting you to donate money for their church's missionary efforts, and when you explain to them that it's really not a good time, that you have two kids screaming and groceries to get home before they melt, and a soccer game to get to in less than an hour, they will look at you and ask you if you know where your soul is going when you die, then tell you they will pray for you, and storm off (true story).
Living in England wasn't much of a culture shock from my southern upbringing. I loved England. The people there were nice (the stereotype is that they are rude British, and while there is an abundance of them, it's nothing a southern girl like me couldn't handle), welcoming and made me part of their family. I had more British friends than American when I lived there (and we lived in a town with a military base occupied by Americans), because I loved the culture and people so much. I can remember having conversations with my British friends that turned into laughing fits because they loved my southern drawl and my use of words like y'all, and ain't, and I loved their British accents and use of words like bollocks, bloody hell and wonky (crooked).
Most days I miss the south terribly, though sometimes I'm not sure if it's the south I miss, or the towns I've lived in. I do miss heading to a bar where everyone knows you, and you have your favorite drink sitting in front of you before you even place your ass in the seat. Maybe that's found everywhere, not just the south, but it's something I miss. I miss the friends that would do anything for you, the ones you have to hold back in that same bar from smashing your enemy's head into the table on your behalf. Southern women are feisty, let me tell you. And I miss the cooking. I do my fair share of southern cooking here, but I miss being able to head up to the small diner for lunch and walking away with baked chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, potato casserole and green beans for $5.
What I don't miss about the south is the drama. Southern people are nosy, want to be in everyone's business, and want to share their opinions about everything. I don't miss that, that's for sure. And, quite honestly, while I fit into the south just fine, it's the conservative aspect of the south I don't miss. I'm covered from neck to foot in tattoos, most of time getting horrible stares when I went out in a tank top and capris. Didn't bother me, but, walking out covered in tattoos here in Arizona, you look like just about everyone else on the street. I love it.