Since I’ve moved out West, I am often the only Southerner in the room/meeting/workplace/restaurant. And when people catch my accent, they usually have something to say about it. Here’s what we Southerners want the rest of the U.S. to know.
1. Stop calling it a “dry” heat like that makes it better.
Someone who regularly lives with the 120-degree temperatures in Phoenix or El Paso will swear to you that the dry heat is somehow better. It’s not. It’s like stepping into a pizza oven. In fact, during the summer, you have no business being outside. I’ll take my humidity over the burning heat of a thousand hair dryers any day.
2. Non-Southerners don’t understand Southern food.
Go anywhere in the South, order iced tea and it will come sweetened with the nectar of the gods (aka, 2 cups of sugar per liter). That’s how tea is to be served. Anything else is an abomination, and handing me a glass of iced tea with two Splendas doesn’t make it sweet tea.
And don’t even get me started on grits.
3. Southerners speak to everyone.
It’s just plain rude not to speak to another person. It doesn’t matter if it’s your neighbor, a stranger or the college rival who beat you out for cheerleader that you’ve been holding a grudge against ever since. You say, “Hi,” then walk off and whisper “Bless her little heart” to your friend like a true Southern belle.
4. The South is more than sports and cotton fields.
If it’s not football related, non-Southerners act like they’ve never heard of it. I’ve never been to Vermont, but I know the capital of it. (Psst, it’s Montpelier. And no, I didn’t have to Google it.)
5. Just because a white guy has a deep Southern accent doesn’t mean he’s racist.
6. We get it — we have “weird” accents.
Your accent is as hard for us to understand as ours is for you to understand. Bostonians, I’m looking at you.
7. We use titles for everyone.
If we say “ma’am” or “sir,” we’re not insulting you. We mean it as a sign of respect. And if you’re five or more years older than us, we might put Ms. or Mr. in front of your name. As in Ms. Crystal. Yes. That happens.
8. We love us some church.
OK, this one is a bit of a blanket statement/stereotype, but for the most part, we’re in there like swimwear, even if it’s only on major holidays, i.e., Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day.
9. We don’t all mind our accents.
Saying “You don’t sound like you’re from (insert Southern state here)” isn’t a compliment. Stop saying it.
10. We don’t all know each other.
Yes, I am from Mississippi. And my family still lives there. But so do 3 million other people. I don’t know that “one guy” that you met from that “one place.” Well, probably not.
11. We’re not all idiots/hillbillies/teen moms/rednecks/whatever.
We’re multimillionaire moguls. We’re veterans. We’re stay-at-home moms. We’re career driven. And yes, some of us are f’ups. Point is, we’re not a monolithic group… we’re just like everyone else.
12. We’re not all driving around in huge pickup trucks with shotguns and Confederate flags in the back.
My gun is small and pink and cute. And cute guns work just as well as big ones.