I grew up in the south.
1. Southern Food: Sometimes it seems like all of the parts of an animal that are not used in other parts of the country are shipped to the south, where they are deep fried. Pig’s feet, chittlins, tongues, frog’s legs, whatever. And you haven’t lived until you’ve had a fried Twinkie. I’ve eaten in many places and in no place have I come as close to eating myself to death as I have in New Orleans.
2. Southern People: I’m not talking about bigots or racists here (that is too often the stereotype with southerners), but rather the decent, hard working, salt of the earth people that make up the majority of the population. People in the south smile at each other, even if they don’t know each other. Go to some other parts of the country and try and strike up a conversation with a stranger; they’ll think you are a lunatic or after something.
3. Pace of Life: Who needs all that hustle and bustle? Mosey somewhere for once (look it up), it will help you digest your fried Twinkie.
4. Weather: Look, I’m as pissed off as the next person about how cold it’s been, but sometimes we forget how lucky we are to live in an area with distinct seasons. It is supposed to be cold at Christmas, Spring should smell like freshly cut grass, Summer should be hot as blazes, and Fall should be breathtakingly beautiful. You think someone in California appreciates a 78 degree day like we do?
5. College Sports: Professional sports are ok, but there is nothing like the thrill of college sports, and they reign supreme in the true south. I went to an SEC school, which, as we all know, is the best conference ever in the history of the world. Also, football and basketball are the only sports that matter (sorry lacrosse players, etc.)
6. Southern Flora/Fauna: I guess some people have never seen a horned toad or an armadillo. Or had their town taken over by kudzu. Or been chased by a wild boar. Such things will keep you on your toes.
7. Central Standard Time: O.K., this one doesn’t apply to Hampton Roads, but why do I have to stay up until 11:00 to watch the news? I still have to be at work at 8:00 the next morning. The good shows are supposed to come on at 9:00, then the news at 10:00. I really don’t think I’ll ever adjust to this one.
8. Southern Music: Unless you are listening to classical music or the latest hit from Bollywood, all of the music you enjoy has its roots in southern musical tradition (the blues, spirituals, or jazz). Tap into those roots, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
9. Southern Colloquialisms: I once yelled to my cousins from Colorado, who were visiting us for a canoe trip, “y’all are fixin’ to tump over!” Needless to say, they had absolutely no idea what I was talking about, so they tumped. A heavy, sudden downpour of rain is a toad strangler. And you can say whatever bad things you want about someone as long as you finish with “bless their heart.”
10. Southern Politicians: Not so much for quality of governance, but for sheer delight in watching. Seriously, put the Cooch anywhere else and he is just some random crazy person. Before I moved from Arkansas one of my state representatives was Jim Bob Duggar of “19 Kids and Counting” fame. And how about that Alvin Greene in South Carolina? The list goes on and on…bless their hearts.