Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hey Y'all

On New Year's Eve, I was in my kitchen, halfway listening to the pre-show for some bowl game when I heard what sounded like heavy foreign accent coming from the tv. My first thought was that there must be an intruder in the house because my husband would never change the channel from football to non-football unless there was a gun pointed to his head. So I went to investigate, only to find that the channel had not been changed, and that the man speaking was Clemson's head coach, Tommy Bowden. His Southern accent was so thick that I could barely understand him without watching his mouth. I was completely enthralled.*

I have been besotted with the South ever since reading Prince of Tides in high school and seeing Harry Connick Jr. in concert when I was 19. Mmmmm, girl! I would have given it all (if you know what I mean) up for that man and his accent! Seriously, he was so funny and charming and who doesn't love a musician? But then he shoved his Victoria's Secret model wife in my face and I thought that was really rude. And shallow. I mean, I had many journal entries devoted to him and his Southern sexiness. Many. I thought he would come to his senses eventually and divorce her, and then we would bump into each other, just walking down the sidewalk when he was in town for a show. He'd remember me from the concert in 1990, and say "would you like to grab a drink?" and the rest would be history. Then he was looking kind of old-ish on Will & Grace, and the floppy hair wasn't doing it for me anymore, but there was still a tiny spark. I think my bubble finally burst when I saw him in the Heidi Montag Us in the "Celebrities: they're just like us!" section, where he was pictured attending a Knicks game with his 10 year old daughter and they were doing a fist bump and looking all rosy and happy. So, whatever. I'm over it.

I digress. My point is this: I am worried that, with the increasing homogenization of our society, the Southern accent and all of its trappings (rules of etiquette**, funny phrases, love of mamas and SEC football) will disappear. Any lingering racism can die off, of course. But not the other stuff.

My friend Debby was born and raised in Atlanta and moved to Denver 2 years ago. She has the accent and abides by all the Southern rules of conduct, but she's not at all politically correct and has the most hilarious stories. The woman is really fucking funny. Sometimes I even have to ask her to translate herself, like when she says "they're in high cotton." This means "they're rich" or "they're doing well," fyi. She has become my tutor in Southern-ness. Are you interested in one of her lessons? Here are her most important Southern guidelines:

1. Nice girls don't drink straight from bottles or cans. Corollary - only sluts drink from bottles and cans.

2. Nice girls don't chew gum in public. Corollary - only sluts chew gum in public.

3. When a Southerner asks for a "Coke," the appropriate response is "what kind?" because Coke is a generic term for soda.

4. "Bless your heart!" often translates to "F-you"

5. "Bless her heart!" pretty much always translates to "what a f-ing moron"

6. People who don't write thank-you notes are the worst kind of trash.

I love this stuff! I'm not trying to convert to Southern because I couldn't fake the accent for long, and plus, I just don't think it's possible. I think it has to be in your blood. To all of you Southerners out there, I fear that you are a dying breed, and my friend Debby agrees; it pains her a bit that her kids aren't growing up in the South and that they will likely marry Yankees. I'm not going to encourage all Southerners to reproduce because that would include Britney and her kin, but what are you going to do about your rich (as in colorful) American subculture disappearing? Where do you see the South in 50 years? And is anyone else a sucker for a Southern accent? Chime in.

*Any grown man with the name Tommy is all right in my book, and this guy really is quite charming (and probably a big-time good ol' boy). Here is a link to an interview with him so you can hear the accent for yourself.

**Do yourself a favor and read these because they are extraordinarily funny.

For further reading, please see I Love Being Southern

EDIT: Please head on over to In(side) the Loop for a follow-up post that will leave you crying with laughter. God bless the South!


In(side) the Loop said...

I LOVE THIS!! I have to email you my grandpa's most popular sayings - you'll die. Cute, cute post and being from Louisiana I can attest to the fact that if someone tells you "Bless your Heart," that's not a positive comment!

faithsalutes said...

I love the South. I was in a wedding outside of Georgia. I had the time of my life with the Southern hospitality and sarcastic women..."Bless your heart, girl from LA."

Fan of the blog. Read it. said...

Oh god... I haven't even finished the whole post yet because I stopped to crack up at your "trappings" bit which included "love of Mamas."

Comic genius strikes again. When is some southerner going to start a blog called loveofmamas?

They better do it quick...

mamacita said...

SGM, listen to me, right now, no, right now you have to get your little hands on one of the Sweet Potato Queens books by Jill Conner Browne. If I knew where you lived I would drop it off on your doorstep this very evening. Get the set of three -- it's crazy-cheap.

I'll see you in Jackson on St. Paddy's Day. (Seriously, go read the books NOW.)

SGM said...

Trust me, Inside the Loop's stuff is priceless, and I hope she will be posting it on her blog SOON.
Faith, That is so funny! I might have to pop someone next time the say "bless your heart" to me.
Decorno, yes! and the user name can be "Don't you go sayin' that about my Mama". There should also be a blog called "Actin' like a God-dang Girl" which was an actual category on a Southern blog that I found. Love it.
Mamacita, I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU, my little Southern baroque friend! I have always been tempted by those books but for some reason have never read them. I'll get on that asap.
Where are my other Southern friends? Brilliant A, Things that Inspire, Pink Wallpaper? Come on, now!

JJ said...

Additionally you must read, A Southern Belle Primer: Why Princess Margaret Will Never Be a Kappa Kappa Gamma. It might be better than the Sweet Potato books. Tulsa is surprisingly Southern with its debs and balls and such. It's very Dallas (which is very Tyler which is just the deep ole South.)

I am Trish Marie said...

First of all. I love cokes. But I only drink Dr. Pepper. Second, my daughter's name is Jill. One syllable to most. Two to her. Ji-ill. And she loves pretty "rangs." Big sparkly rangs. One for each "fanger." Bless her heart.

Southern Bama Belle said...

OMG. If you think Tommy Bowden has an accent you should come down to Tucaloosa, AL. You would DIE with all the little old women here who still have the Scarlet O'Hara drawl. As native of Alabama I have to agree, nothing better than a Southern Gentleman accent, and I am lucky enought to hear it everyday!

Love the blog!

Who Sees the Seven... said...

I'm with you on the southern accent love. Being from the northeast (and still living there) I get oh so excited to hear that adorable drawl, especially on a man like Matthew McConaughey. And also part of the reason I am obsessed with Paula Deen and wish she were the southern aunt I never had.

Brilliant Asylum said...

Funny post! Some days I feel like I was born in the wrong part of the world, but I love bourbon too much to be from any place else. The South is a a beautiful and mysterious place--even to us.

I can't say that I have ever used the phrase "Bless her Heart", but I am sure I have been on the receiving end of it once or twice.
: )

Pigtown-Design said...

"I am sure she's perfectly lovely" is another kiss of death.

If you like HC, jr. the december Men's Vogue* had a nice story about his and his family and what he's doing for New Orleans and its music after Katrina.

Sweet potato queens are hilarious. Also GRITS (girls raised in the south).

*only see it b/c my friend edits it.

Pink Wallpaper said...

you are so funny! can you believe i spent my new years w/ that man Tommy; my husband went to Clemson! and we totally still talk like that and will forever! thanks for featuring the "south"...y'all come back now ya' hear!! oh, another translation for bless your heart- ohhhh she's not so cute...bless her heart...

Jamie Meares said...

so funny. "i suwannee" comes from my mom's side of the family.. pronounced SWAN-EE

it sort of means "i swear" or "well, i never". my mom, aunt and g-ma use it like its going out of style. anything you say to my mom that is remotely interesting/unblievable/exciting/funny - she says "well, i suwannee"

Laura said...

If you want a real Coke, you might should order a Co-Cola. In a college town where the Waffle House has a waiting list. Pink Wallpaper is right with her definition of "bless her heart," i.e. she will never get past third round house tour at Phi Mu, even if she is a double legacy.

Let me know if you need that last sentence translated!

SGM said...

JJ, my friend Debby actually recommended that book. Kansas is close to Tulsa, which is close to Dallas, Tyler, so on...I think I can make myself a Southerner! I certainly know how to speak Redneck.
Trish Marie, perfection. I think I love Ji-ill.
Southern Belle, can I come live with you? I'm terribly jealous that you get the accent (and probably the manners too) every day.
Who Sees--MM for sure! I forgot about his accent. I'm usually distracted by the bod.
BA, are you originally from Atlanta? I would never say "bless your heart" to you.
Meg, I am OVER him, ok? But I might sneak a tiny peek at Barnes & Noble.
PW, can you get Tommy to record my outgoing message on my answering machine? I would just die! :)
Jamie, I was wondering about the name of your blog....and isn't that the name of some big fancypants private school in Tennessee?
Laura, I actually get it! I grew up in Kansas, which is heavy on the Greek system. The hierarchy of sororities was drilled into my head starting in jr. high. I can appreciate your comment; rush is so full of "she's cute, but she's just not a good fit for us." That's code for "she's a slut."
I love all my Southern friends! Thanks for your comments. Yankees too. :)

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