Monday, February 09, 2015

Don't Tell Me I Can't Be Southern, Scarlett O'Hara

Before we begin, let me say this: I am not going to look up whether or not the word Southern is supposed to be capitalized in this context. I want it to be, so it is. I have learned writers can do this sometimes without their editors freaking out . . . much.

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and therefore I think I can call myself a Southern belle, no matter how much Scarlett O'Hara may object. Well, at least Southern. My days of belle-ness have probably passed.

Already any of my Kentucky cousins reading this are objecting too. They know I actually grew up in Hoosierland, otherwise known as Indiana, or more recently Colts Country. But some of that time was in Southern Indiana, a mere hop across the Ohio River from Louisville, so I truly was born into and lived near the pull of the South.

And therefore, Scarlett, I know a thing or two about Southern, so please don't leap from your windy pages, attempting to put me in my Northern place.

For one thing, I know a vocabulary missing the polite word y'all has a serious deficiency. What other word—and it is one word no matter what you think—is so inclusive when a Southerner utters, "Y'all come back now!" Even if a belle doesn't like someone in your party, everyone is covered. Sure, Northerners might say, "You all come back now," but they wouldn't if they didn't like one of the "you all." They would be afraid you all would come back. Southerners would find another way to let you know you can keep your suitcase in the closet for all they care.

Then I know about grits, which are way deeper than Kentucky Southern. In the deep South, the existence of grits means you will always have one of your side dishes decided for you in a restaurant before the waitstaff even bring a menu. Eggs and grits. Pancakes and grits. Biscuits and gravy and grits. It is unfortunate that, in this quest for Southern-ness, I don't like grits.

How about Sweet Tea? Which, by the way, is also worthy of capitalization. Sweet. Tea. Need I say more? And Piggly Wiggly, the grocery store? Piggly. Wiggly. Once again, need I say more?

Okay, I need to say more. First, I don't know why Piggly Wiggly is a satisfactory or necessary name for a grocery store. And I confess I don't really know that much about being Southern. I just love their novels, their fried chicken, and the word Dixie. And I like to say "y'all" without sounding too much like the Northerner I've become.

So, Scarlett?  Southerners? Maybe I'm not a belle, but may I pretend to be at least a little Southern, only without grits? Please, y'all?


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