Confessions of an Ex-Midwesterner

Or, “I Don’t Know Where the Hell Anything Is.” 

As you read this, please remember that I didn’t leave the Midwest until I was 26 years old.

It always surprises me how “Southern” my hometown is, because I’ve never really thought of central Illinois as being southern. (Maybe it’s just me. Hey there, Quincy readers… Do you think of yourselves as Southern?) But then again, I didn’t think of Washington, DC as being in The South.

I don’t know why, but my idea of The South started with the Carolinas and went down to Georgia; then it meandered west to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Texas is a stretch. It’s The West, right? And Florida? Not in The South to me. That’s it. (Yeah, I know, right? Not even VIRGINIA??)

Once upon a time, a friend and I decided to take a Thelma & Louise-type road trip. She drove her little green Miata down to Vegas and picked me up at the airport; from there, we went on to see the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Phoenix. Then we cut across to southern California and traveled up the coast all the way back to Seattle.

When I say “Thelma & Louise-type road trip,” I mean that we didn’t really want to have a set schedule, other than the date when we’d arrive in Seattle. And we were both female. But we didn’t shoot anyone, nor did we lock a trooper in the trunk of his own car. Oh yeah, and… we didn’t drive off a cliff. (Hang in there. I have a point that goes with my convoluted idea of where The South is…)

While we were in the planning stages of this trip, we had it all mapped out as far as which states we’d drive through, so that at least we knew we were sticking to the western portion of the country.

Naturally, we wanted to make sure we hit some highlights (without being too strict), so she asked me if there was any place I particularly wanted to see. I said, “Well… I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans.”



Yeah. She had the same reaction.

Anyway, I got this from BJ in our office… I think all these fit her to a sweet “T.” (Boy, I crack myself up.)

Southern women appreciate their natural assets:
Clean skin.
A winning smile.
That unforgettable Southern drawl.

Southern women know their manners:
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Why, no, Billy!”

Southern women have a distinct way with fond expressions:
“Y’all come back!”
“Well, bless your heart.”
“Drop by when you can.”
“How’s yo Momma?”

Southern women know their summer weather report:

Southern women know their vacation spots:
The beach
The rivuh
The crick

Southern women know the joys of June, July, and August:
Colorful hi-heel sandals
Strapless sun dresses
Iced sweet tea with lemon

Southern women know everybody’s first name:

Southern women know the movies that speak to their hearts:
Fried Green Tomatoes
Driving Miss Daisy
Steel Magnolias
Gone With The Wind

Southern women know their religions:

Southern women know their country breakfasts:
Red-eye gravy
Country ham
Mouth-watering homemade biscuits with momma’s homemade jelly

Southern women know their cities dripping with Southern charm:
Foat Wuth

Southern women know their elegant gentlemen:
Men in uniform.
Men in tuxedos
Rhett Butler

Southern girls know their prime real estate:
The Mall
The Country Club
The Beauty Salon

Southern girls know the 3 deadly sins:
Having bad hair and nails
Having bad manners
Cooking bad food

More Suthen-isms:

Only a Southerner knows the difference between a hissie fit and a conniption fit, and that you don’t “HAVE” them, you “PITCH” them.

Only a Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc., make up “a mess.”

Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of “yonder.”

Only a Southerner knows exactly how long “directly” is, as in: “Going to town, be back directly.”

Even Southern babies know that “Gimme some sugar” is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl in the middle of the table.

All Southerners know exactly when “by and by” is. They might not use the term, but they know the concept well.

Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who’s got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor’s trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin!

Only Southerners grow up knowing the difference between “right near” and “a right far piece.” They also know that “just down the road” can be 1 mile or 20.

No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn.

A Southerner knows that “fixin” can be used as a noun, a verb or an adverb.

Only Southerners make friends while standing in lines, … and when we’re “in line,” we talk to everybody!

Put 100 Southerners in a room and half of them will discover they’re related, even if only by marriage.

In the South y’all is singular, all y’all is plural.

Southerners know grits come from corn and how to eat them.

Every Southerner knows tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that red eye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that fried green tomatoes are not a breakfast food.

When you hear someone say, “Well, I caught myself lookin’,” you know you are in the presence of a genuine Southerner!

Only true Southerners say “sweet tea” and “sweet milk.” Sweet tea indicates the need for sugar and lots of it — we do not like our tea unsweetened. “Sweet milk” means you don’t want buttermilk.

And a true Southerner knows you don’t scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 MPH on the freeway. You just say, “Bless her heart” and go your own way.

To those of you who are still a little embarrassed by your Southerness: Take two tent revivals and a dose of sausage gravy and call me in the morning. Bless your heart!

And to those of you who are still having a hard time understanding all this Southern stuff, bless your hearts, I hear they are fixin’ to have classes on Southernness as a second language!

And for those that are not from the South but have lived here for a long time, all y’all need a sign to hang on y’all’s front porch that reads “I ain’t from the South, but I got here as fast as I could.”

Now…… Shugah, send this to someone who was raised in the South or wish they had been!

If you’re a Northern transplant, Bless your little heart, fake it. We know you got here as fast as you could.


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