Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's a Southern Thing

I'm proud to say I'm from the south. Born and raised in Virginia (it's below the Mason-Dixon line, so we qualify as southern, thank you), I've lived in the backwoods of my wonderful home state, in North Carolina and in South Carolina. I lived in England for 3 years in between North Carolina and South Carolina, and currently live in Arizona. Talk about culture shock for me, moreso with Arizona than even England. This western thing takes some getting used to, and yes, I understand I'm still in the southwest, but there are big difference between the south and the southwest. If you've never lived in the south, it's definitely something worth trying- at least visit. Most people never forget their trips to the south.

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.

Southern hospitality is amazing; I can remember driving anywhere, and people waving at you as you pass. Do I know that person? Nope. It's just the way things are. And, we southern people will immediately offer you a glass of sweet tea, a seat, and good conversation. That's Southern hospitality.

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).

That leads directly into the right to say whatever is on your mind, and boy, do we southern women exercise that right fully. I'm thinking now that's where I get it from~ growing up in the south. Southern women are born with filters, and yes, we know when to use them. But goodness forbid you cross one of us or say something about our family, children, spouse, or friends. You will get a tongue lashing from hell, our filters temporarily nonexistent, and there's a good chance we will smile right at you, say 'Thank you' and walk away, calm as anything when we are done. We're amazing at insulting you without you even knowing it, too. "Does this sweater look okay on me?" "Yes, sweetheart, it looks amazing. The color definitely brings out your eyes, and helps to camouflage the fact that your makeup looks a little bit like a hooker's today," said with a huge smile, a comforting touch of the arm, and it's not until a little later you realize we just said you look like a hooker.

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).

The southwest has been a larger shock to me than even England was. I'm adapting quite well to the 80 degrees it seems to stay during the day, even in December, but I do miss actual seasons. I do hate snow, so, when I see on Facebook that my southern friends are getting buried by snow and are having to bundle up to head home after work, I do sit back and smile that I'm currently outside, in a tank top and flip flops, unloading groceries from my car, and it's 10 days until Christmas. Not looking forward to the 125 degree summers, though, that's for sure. Sweet tea is nonexistent here, so I don't even bother trying to ask for a glass of that at a restaurant. And, having grits on your grocery shopping list proves to be a bit problematic here in the southwest. I managed to find one container of instant grits at a grocery store. Instant grits are fine, but what about a variety box with cheddar cheese, bacon, or butter flavored? In the south, there's pretty much an entire grocery aisle devoted to grits, but here, nothing. The biggest food shock, though, has been tortillas. I'm used to flour ones, but here, being so close to Mexico, it's corn ones that you have to fry before eating. Blah.

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.

I'm a southern girl at heart, though, which means I will never stop using the word y'all, even in writing, I will always have a pitcher of sweet tea in the fridge, and if you stop by for a chat, I'll offer you a glass of sweet tea and probably try to feed you something. But whatever you do, please don't say anything about my family or friends, 'cause I'll more than likely ask you to leave, with a smile, after telling you that those new pants you are wearing are a perfect fit for you, look amazing, and totally hide your cellulite thighs, while ushering you out the door before my bitch filter disappears. And goodness forbid Z hears you say something about my family or friends, because being a southern girl herself, she might try to smash your head into the wall on my behalf. It's just how we southern women are, and we wouldn't change it for the world.

Obviously MARvelous


  1. Hello! Popping in from Thirsty Thursday! Nice blog and nice to "meet" you. Happy Holidays!

  2. I completely agree, culture shock is definitely alive and well!!

    We came from California, so the weather alone took some getting used to! But, I so enjoy the hospitality, the affordability of things (like the $5 meal you mentioned!) But, I think one of my favorite things is when I'm introduced to someone's kids, I'm "Miss Samantha"...I love it!!

    And we, as a family, love it because there's land and green and less social competition! We feel like we can just *be* out here. And, you were only hours away over in N or S Carolina!!

  3. I miss the rednecks, Ward's BBQ, red dirt roads, and people constantly telling me not to jump that girl that I heard talkin' trash about my friends.

    "In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina, can't you see the sunshine? Can't you just feel the moonshine?"


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  5. I'm a Southern Okie...... ;)
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