How To Successfully Survive The South
If You Want To Have A Peaceful Visit To The South, Please Read This Story.
I’m a southerner. Born. Bred. Lived all of my life in the south. The Heart of Dixie, Alabama, to be exact. I offer no apologies. To anyone. Or special interest groups. And when you hear the word ‘southerner,’ do not allow your imagination to conjure up outdated. Offensive images of toothless men in overalls lying around in the shade, hound dogs in the house, beer for breakfast and cheating on my wife. And please, do not mention chitins, pork rinds, pigs feet, ears or tails to me as a snack, unless you want to see a grown man get suddenly-nauseated and do what follows. Believe me this is not something you would want you’re your young grandkids to see.
I am not about bigotry, racism, gun violence, moon shining, the KKK, or paying dues to some fanatical group seen on CNN who’s leader, “Billy Bob Ha Beeb Messiah,” tells us that some other fanatical group (besides his) is taking over the United States as we sleep and we’d better lay in a good supply of beef jerky, grits, cornmeal, and Jim Dandy dog food for our police dogs.
My story, “How To Successfully Survive The South,” is just that. No hidden-political message, mud slinging at anyone, and calling all free Americans ready to retire, to move to the south and buy some swamp land that is for sale. Cheap. This story, in its inception, is an easy-to-follow, a do-it-yourself FREE educational story that will enable you, yes you, who has never sit foot out of Portland--to easily and with the smoothness of Betsy Sue’s junior prom dress, learn about our southern words, traditions and ways of life, that until now, has never been revealed. At least by me.
Let me repeat one more time, so you can read this without any discomfort, that “I” am from the new south, not the old south with cotton plantations, alligator-poaching, and an over-active urge to buy and sell people at a public auction. In short, me, and many people like me, detest, despise, and really hate, this dark part of our area of history in the United States that we today are fighting to change. Change is not always a bad thing. Especially when it involves people working to and achieving the fine art of getting along with each other.
“How To Successfully Survive The South” starts off with a few words and phrases that are straight from the backwoods of the south. Some of these words and phrases are around today. Please take time to learn these key words, phrases, and unwritten laws of respect. You might be in need of the information in this story if you, God forbid, are stuck one dark night along the roadside on the seldom-traveled roads leading to and from Columbus, Mississippi.
Southern Words and Phrases and What They Mean . . .
1. Up air - is a buddy telling another buddy to look at something “up there” on his mobile home. “Hey, Jo Jo, look UP AIR, at that woodpecker. Recken we kin get him with our 12 gauge?”
2. I Don’t Thank So - is what a cool southern boy tells his wife when she says he is going dress shopping with her in Columbus, Mississippi. A simple ‘no,’ would have sufficed, but the cool southern dude needed an excuse to use his new phrase he learned in the hardware store.
3. Get On Down The Road - a person or person is through visiting or filling their Chevy truck with unleaded gas and now it’s time for the old boy to, “Get on down the road.”
4. Recken - means that a southerner is reckoning the solution to a problem such as which brand of pork and beans to eat for lunch.
5. Shoot - is not an order to fire off a 12-gauge shotgun. No, this is an exclamation of disbelief. Example, “Hey, Joey Joe, last Satiddy, I caught myself 22 perch at Johnson’s Lake!” JOEY JOE: “Shoot! That ain’t nothing’! Week ‘fore that, me ‘n Roger Clark caught us 50 perch in the same lake using live minners for bait!”
6. You Lissen Here - is a southerner’s way, be it man or woman, to get another southerner’s attention. “You lissen here, Jenny Gail! I wuz not the womern who stole yore Randy from yew!”
7. Ain’t - is heard a lot in the south. I know. Correct grammar dictates that one should say, ‘isn’t,’ but the word ain’t has been around for so long in the south that it stuck. “Ain’t you gonna brang me some more grits?”
8. Works Fer Me - a term of agreement among southern guys who ARE employed. “You wanna use this nail gun instead of that ball peen hammer?” “Works fer me.”
These, friends, are just a few words and phrases, mind you, that most southerners use on a daily basis. They see nothing wrong with communicating in this fashion. Their reasoning is that if talking like this was good enough for grandma, grandpa and their great grandma and grandpa, shoot, it’s good enough for them.
Things You Never Do If You’re A Stranger In The South . . .
1. When you stop by a convenience store along the road the find that the store is filled with good old boys and girls--slapping their knees, dipping smokeless tobacco, smoking cigarettes, laughing, talking, DO NOT ask, “What’s so funny?” I promise. They will cease whatever they are doing. Instantly. Glare, leer, and gaze at you as if you had insulted their granny. For your own life’s sake, go ahead, buy your unsalted moose jerky, glass of Lipton green tea, and be on your way.
2. If you find yourself traveling down south, I advise to NOT wear fine clothes. Stop at a rest stop before you enter the south and change into jeans, a denim jacket and put on a yellow CAT Diesel Power cap. A man is judged first by his clothes. If you get in trouble in the south, the first thing southerners will say is, “Look at this fancy dan. Why is he coming down here dressed like a Saturday lawyer?” So play it safe. Dress down. You will save yourself some unwanted headaches.
3. In a southern restaurant and you order a meal, DO NOT ask a lot of needless questions like, “Waitress, may I have my onions gently turned in olive oil?” for this infuriates any southern waitress. Eat what you like on their menu. And smile a lot to the waitress probably named, “Brenda,” plus, to insure that you receive an easy exit, leave a big tip.
4. In a southern restaurant, DO NOT ask, ,”Just what is grits, miss?” To “Brenda,” the waitress working two jobs (including this one) to put her two kids, “J.W.”, and “Ellie Sue,” through high school. You will be laughed at by “Brenda,” and the staff behind the counter and the cooks running the grill. Please keep all questions to yourself. If you’re unsure about an item on their menu, pass over it.
5. When stopping to ask directions, DO NOT ask the southern girl if she is standing in Fred’s Dollar Store parking lot with her steady-fella and his buddies, or her steady and the buddies will be glad to give you directions alright. Directions to the pavement with your face. Always, honor the southern man FIRST, regardless of how lost you are. And as a gesture of good will, offer him a ten-dollar tip.
6. If you are entering a public business in the south, and a dog runs up to you--wagging its tail, hassling, DO NOT scold, kick, or throw rocks at this animal for it might belong to a “D.W.,” the local body builder turned bouncer for the local nightclub just down the block. Pat, if you can, the animal with your hand. Gently. And if you get automotive grease on your hand, well, that just means that the animal has just awoke from his nap underneath his owner’s ‘77 Ford pick up truck. He is most likely, harmless. The dog. Not the owner.
7. If you are visiting relatives in the south for the first time, let me just say to you. Leave all of your back-home, eastern, western and northern traditions, words, and opinions there. Back home. No matter what your southern relatives are talking about, DO NOT disagree. With anything. Southerners appreciate a man or woman who isn’t against them, so play it cool and agree with the statements made over fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and fried okra, and after you eat of this manna from Heaven, ALWAYS, and I DO mean ALWAYS, compliment the cook. It’s the lady or ladies who cooked this classy meal and also they are the ones who call the shots in the house, not the guys. Learn who is really in charge and form an alliance with them.
8. When you are asked to comment on things, on purpose, drop in a few ain’t’s, huh’s, and you betcha’s in the conversation. This will make your southern hosts more at ease instead of using those fifty-dollar words you learned at Harvard University.
9. Speaking of higher education, do not be too quick to judge your elderly relatives who have known only manual labor over their lives. And their lack of a school house education. They are in their 80’s, they have a good house, money in the bank, and kids without criminal records, they must be doing something right.
10. THIS ONE IS THE ULTIMATE DO NOT if a discussion starts up about The War Between The States (Civil War), DO NOT offer an opinion either way. This one subject has caused more hurt feelings, torn families apart and even bloodshed than any other subject known to man, except the discussion on who makes the best Daisy Duke, Catherine Bach or Jessica Simpson. Use your college education and just keep your mouth shut in THIS discussion. You will come out great in the long run.
11. If attacked by a gang of rednecks, DO NOT fight back. YOU are the one from out of town, not them. Who do you think will believe you in a southern court of law? Remember the movie, “My Cousin Vinny”? Yeah. That will open your eyes quickly and you will not feel like being a hero and trying to whip two southern guys. Just act like their punches hurt you and lay on the ground. Maybe when they see you curling up in a fetal position, they will laugh at you and leave.
Things That You Are TO DO While You Are In The South . . .
1. Always be courteous, but not overly-courteous. Southern gals will think that you are putting the move on them and they will call their boyfriend, “J.D.,” and when he gets finished with you, you will be a quieter man.
2. When you and the wife visit a Waffle House, Deny’s or Huddle House in the south, DO tell the waitress that (whatever restaurant you are in at the time), is YOUR favorite. What a great public relations move.
3. DO obey all laws in the south including speed limits that to you, seem extreme and senseless. Again, you are the out-of-towner, just be humble and if the sign says 12 Miles Per Hour, by all means, do 12 miles an hour.
4. DO be extremely respectful when pulled over by a policeman in the south. Southern policemen appreciate respect. And DO check your license before you leave San Diego to make sure it hasn’t lapsed. Make sure your car registration and insurance is up to date. And be polite with the officer…NO matter how he looks or talks. You are on his turf. Remember that.
5. DO respect the Stars and Bars southern flag. Okay. I know that you are highly-educated, know your history, but do show the southerner some respect by NOT saying in a loud voice, your opinion on what their flag means. Just respect it. Move along. No trouble. No arrests.
6. When eating dinner (to you. Supper to southerners), on a Saturday afternoon or night in a southern restaurant, first, if there happens to be a college football game on the big-screen television above the check-out counter, first listen to the crowd. Whatever team they are pulling for is the team that YOU pull for. I know that you might be a Michigan Wolverine fan, but just this one time, be a Georgia Bulldog fan. You might escape without a scratch for I can tell you. Southerners--guys and girls, all take their college football seriously. Regardless if they went to college or not.
So, my friends, there you have it. And easy-to-do list of things that tells you, in plain English, “How To Successfully Survive The South,” and I personally, extend to you, if you are from the north, east, or west, a cordial invitation to visit us here in our homeland anytime you like. Bring your family, friends, and family pet. We would love to have you visit, or even ‘put down roots,” in the south.
That ‘put down roots,’ means stay.