Friday, July 17, 2009

Away down south in Dixie

I feel a small need to redeem the south, namely South Carolina, with its rising unemployment, its cheating governor, and its serial killer and all. I wasn't raised in South Carolina, but I've been here for eleven years. My family is from a little town in Alabama way out in the woods. When I first met David he was afraid I'd drop him off and he would have to use his Marine Corps land navigation skills to get back to civilization. This is also where "Courtney Lane" is.

I have always lived in the south, well except for the three years we lived in Hawaii. The weather in the south is great. Here in South Carolina we have two seasons "Great golly it's Hot" and "It's cold during the month of February, but we can still wear shorts through December". Further south you have "Really Hot" and "Not too Hot" and a little further north you have "Hot" and "Here comes that once-every-two-years-ice storm".

A little, or perhaps most, of my souther drawl has faded. No longer, "III'd liiiike a Spriiiite, thank youuuuu." I believe I left it in Hawaii when everyone kept asking, "Honey, when are you going to lose that southern accent?" However, I have held on to most of my southern vocabulary. It's just inbred. You can't lose that. Here are some examples:

Hey!: Used as a greeting, or as an interjection as in, "Hey! Why did you just smack your brother in the head?"

Y'all: Used as a plural pronoun, as in, "Are y'all just going to sit there while your brother runs around with a serrated bread knife and a pudding cup?" A less desirable "you guys" is used in the north.

Fixin' to: Used as a verb, as in, "I am fixin' to come up there if y'all don't stop that!"

git: Also known to some as "get", used as in, "Git your brother out of the toilet!"

Bless your heart: Used sympathetically as in, "Oh, you just fell down three flights of stairs, broke both legs, and need a body cast? Well, bless your heart!"

Say!: Used as a command, as in, "Did you just cut your sister's hair with those scissors? Say!"

I'll be dog!: I don't actually use this term, but my granny did. It is used as an exclamation when you are surprised about something, as in, "The kids are all playing nicely without arguing? Well, I'll be dog!

fo' shizzle: Oh, wait-that is not southern.

Certainly the south has had its share of difficulty. I mean we did try and secede from the union. Well, not me personally. But, I do have a rebellious side. I rip off my "do not remove" pillow tags right away. Do not try to control me.

The south also has the best food- fried chicken, fried catfish, fried okra and fried squash. Notice a theme? The south is not cholesterol friendly. We do eat our vegetables. As long as you simmer them for at least an hour to make sure every last nutrient has been leached out. Then add a stick of butter. And cornbread on the side. Mmmmmm. You can't get any better than that.

The deep south is the setting for many of my fondest memories. I recall sitting in my Granny and Papa's trailer on Friday nights watching "Dallas" after the local high school football game. Except that I don't like Dallas, or high school football, but that's really beside the point. I remember when you told someone how to get to that trailer by saying, 'It's up the road a piece- cross the bridge and take a left at the crossroads." I remember picking up the phone and hearing the neighbor talking because we had a "party line". I remember when "going to town" just meant you were going into town. I remember my papa filling up his truck with gas on "credit" when credit meant saying, "I'll come back on Tuesday and pay you."

I have visited the north-my husband is from Chicago. But, there is just something about the south. I will always call it home.


Kathleen said...

Well, I'll be dog if you ain't awfully funny today! (Did I say that right?)

Seriously, great post! I love the nostalgia and the humor all tied into one!

fo' shizzle - Ha!

I think "Bless her heart" is used to make a total insult not sound like a total insult like, "She is dumb as rocks, bless her heart." Kinda lets the southern belle keep her southern belle'ish-ness.

I'm not a southern girl, though, so that's just an observation! :)

Denise said...

Ditto, ditto, ditto to Kathleen!!

Even though I live in the South, I'm not from the South. So you all just know what they say about me.....

Yes, I'm one of those....

D@#$ Yankees that moved here.

I'm just sure, there is a lot of "Bless her heart" she don't know better going on behind my back.

But, I LOVE the South! Bless My Heart! Great Post Courtney!

Courtney said...

Kathleen and Denise-you both qualify to be "adopted" into the south. Go ahead and call yourselves "Belles"!!

Marsha said...

As a true Southerner, I have to say I was smiling and giggling the whole way through! It is all so true and I agree with Denise about covering up the insults, it is one of my husband's favorites.

Wendy said...

I was going to add the same as Kathleen... 'Bless her heart' as a cover for insults. But, I know it was only because you are too kind to bring it up yourself.

You are an excellent writer, Courtney and I really enjoyed reading this. (Todd agrees!)

Courtney said...

Thanks! Y'all are too sweet, bless your hearts! :)

Courtney said...

Seriously, it can be used as a cover for an insult, but I've heard it more often used as a sympathy. Besides, if I say it to one of you, I don't want you to think I'm insulting you!

Anonymous said...

So true of the South! Though I must say that when you grow up in the West (Arizona) you tend to look at the US in terms of East vs. West not North vs South. So it was a huge adjustment to come to a place that still acts like the War was fought yesterday.
I must say I love the WEST though the south has it's moments :)!!!

Genny said...

Courtney! You have such a gift at writing!! You really need to send this particular piece into Southern Living for their end of the magazine southern humor section. They always have some kind of commentary on southern life and this is totally the kind of thing they print. Send it in and see what happens!

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