I make my home in the Deep South. Northeast Georgia to be exact. I was born and raised here, I love our traditions, I love and respect my mama, I’m proud that there’s a church on every corner, and my rear end is plopped on the couch every Saturday in the fall because behind God and family, college football is king. Go Dawgs.
I’m not your typical southern boy. In fact, I spend my days expecting any minute to hear a knock at the door because I’m finally getting the visit from the South-Land Authentication Authority Works, otherwise known as S.L.A.A.W. They’ll be asking me to hand over my southern card.
“Ye’uns ain’t from around these parts, ere ya?”
“Yes, sir. I was born and raised right here in the Peach State. I like grits!”
“Oh yeah? Cooked or instant?”
“Hand over that cahhhhhhd!”
It’s true. I prefer instant grits to cooked every single time. It’s what I grew up with and I like the taste. I particularly favor the brand with the Quaker guy on the front. That alone isn’t enough to have my southern card revoked, though. I know others - others who prefer to remain nameless - who like instant grits over cooked. One little hiccup in a person’s heritage does not a traitor make. Unfortunately for me, there is a long list of things that traditionally give a southerner their stamp of approval, and I don’t match up with a lot of them. For instance …
- I don’t like country music. Many of us around here don’t but I get physically ill when I hear most of the stuff coming out of Nashville today. There was a time when I was quite engaged with the country music scene. I worked for two different country music radio stations and during that time in the mid-nineties, I enjoyed it. Now though, my snobbery which emerges from my distaste for poorly written lyrics and cliched creativity has me plugging my ears with closest thing to me, even if that thing is an ice pick, or a chunk of broken glass.
- I don’t like cornbread. (What?! Say it ain’t so!) It is very much so. I like a corn dog and I can eat my weight in hushpuppies, but don’t ask me to take a bite of an actually by golly piece of cornbread. I’ve tried. Believe me. I just can’t make myself like the texture of it alone. There’s something different about a greasy hush puppy dipped in an ungodly slop of tartar sauce. I tried dipping cornbread into tartar sauce and it’s not the same.
- While we’re on food, don’t offer me fish of any kind, including fried catfish, bream, or bass. (MMMM, boy! You don’t know what you’re missing out on. Them’s good eatin’.”) I know, but I’m the guy that makes it necessary to have the alternative chicken strips at every fish fry. You might be thinking, Well I don’t have chicken at MY fish fries. And that’s fine. Just don’t invite me, because I ain’t coming. Neither me, nor my wife will eat anything that comes from the water. Again, we’ve both tried. It all tastes like fish and we hate the taste of fish.
But Tilapia doesn’t have that fishy taste.
Yes it does. We’ve tried it.
But Mahi Mahi tastes more like chicken than fish.
YOU SIT ON A THRONE OF LIES!!!
- And while we’re still on the topic of food, I eat my fried chicken with a fork. (Fried chicken, suh, is to be eaten with your hands.) Well, good for you. I don’t like the smell chicken flesh leaves on my fingers and it’s super hard to get that smell off.
- Collard greens? No thank you.
- Eggs. (Boy- I say BOY! Is there gon’ be anything on this list what don’t belong in the food pyramid?!) I’m starting to see your point. Other than country music so far, it’s all been about my finicky palette. Still, eggs are a staple of breakfast and I can’t stand to even smell them being cooked. I’ll eat them on occasion as long as they’re really well scrambled and have a whole block of cheese mixed into them. Otherwise, keep them away from me. Even my sister, who loves eggs, will go to the trouble to get the “wiggie” out of every egg she cracks before doing anything to it. I shouldn’t have to explain what the wiggie is, but I will, since it’s a word she made up years ago. It’s the little white stringy thing that’s always attached to the yolk. Now you know. And you’re better for it.
- I don’t write “Thank You” notes, or at least I haven’t in the past. I’m changing on that as I get older, but not because I think it’s the right thing to do. If you receive a gift or service from someone you won’t see face to face, sure. Of course, you should send a note of thanks. BUT, it’s just my personal opinion that if you give me a gift and I personally, to your face, with a big ol’ hug and a tear in my eye, thank you, from my mouth to your ears, then I have thanked you. I have learned the hard way that this is a hot button topic for some people. I know folks who get red hot under the collar because it’s their opinion that you should send a thank you note every time someone says bless you after you sneeze. Those people are the reason I have a stack of 20,000 of the same thank you card I bought at the bin store for a dollar. (Well, I NEVER!) I guess not, but now you have. We have our own opinions and mine is just as valuable as yours. I don’t think I need to remind you what they say about opinions anyway.
- I think keeping a dog on a chain is animal cruelty and if you’re caught doing it, you should be chained and left in the heat of the day, yourself. This isn’t a particularly southern thing, but I grew up seeing my share of people treat their animals this way. When I hear some redneck that just crawled out from under a rock say, It’s just a dang dog, I have to stop and ask God to help me see that person through His eyes. Why? Because my eyes in that moment, want to see that person strung upside down by their toenails and skinned like a catfish. Pets outside are fine as long as they’re taken care of and have room to run around. I’m talking about the people who think it’s okay to attach a huge, heavy chain around a dog’s neck and leave them a filthy bowl of water.
- I hate trucks with irrationally large tires and no muffler. I look at stuff like this from a psychological perspective. When a dude blares past me in a pickup so loud it could wake the dead and sitting jacked up so high on its tires that you just about need a ladder to get into it, my first thought is, Somebody has insecurity issues. Somebody doesn’t feel seen nor heard. Yet, for so many young boys in the south, that sort of ride is a dream. I think the same thing when a car has the radio booming so loud it rattles the windows. Give me a quiet, sensible, comfortable automobile. I have absolutely zero need to go “Mud Ridin’.”
- I have no use for hunting. (Them’s fighting words, boy!) Don’t get me wrong. I actually don’t have a problem with hunters who do it the right way. It’s just not for me at all. I tried it years ago when I was young. I got into it for a while and I shot a couple of deer, but since that time, I’ve changed my ideals. I don’t personally have a need to kill something with a face to be happy. Hunters who kill for food and utilize as much of the animal as possible have my respect. I believe animals were placed on earth for various reasons, and some of those reasons include supplying humans with food, shelter, clothing, and tools. But for me, while I really enjoyed the thrill of the hunt when I was into it, i would engage in that activity now with a camera instead of a gun. Not because I’m opposed to guns, but because I don’t need to help thin out the whitetail deer population. There are plenty of others around here willing to do that.
So take my card, if they must. I’m more interested in being a country united. I’m southern for the most part, and I’m proud as punch about my heritage. There are just a few kinks in the chain that hangs between the posts at the Mason/Dixon line.