Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

She's Got a Voice like Tupelo Honey...

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the women I know and what makes us uniquely Southern. We all have a lot in common and we have a lot that makes us different. I started listing traits that make a Southern Woman. I am sure that other regions have stereotypical things that women do but in the South we tend to cling to our tradition with a tenacity that a bulldog would envy. Below is a list of things which make us unique (you might even say a little bit crazy). Those of you who were born and bred here will recognize some and maybe, hopefully, add a few of your own. Those of you who have correctly chosen to live here (including you Yankees) can probably point out a few we don’t recognize in ourselves. So, here goes:

1. Know Your Roots – Always be prepared to discuss your ancestors in any given social situation. Lineage is very important to Southerners. You never know when you might be asked to join the Daughters of the Confederacy or, be still my heart, the Daughters of the American Revolution. The ability to recite back at least five generations on both sides of your family tree is a definite “must” for polite conversation.
2. Manners – Always be polite and respectful. Hold your tongue even when you are so annoyed with someone that you have gritted your teeth until the fillings in your jaw teeth have collapsed and you will need an appointment with the dentist for a root canal and crown.
3. Clubs – You have to be a member of some club. Junior League, garden club, historical society, the save-the-endangered-minnows-at-the-bottom-of-Sam Beauregard’s-well club – just join some type of club. Social clubs give you a purpose to do good outside the home and allow you to learn the latest gossip about everyone else.
4. Hobbies – You must have a hobby which elevates you to a certain status in your social circle. Some women cook – making the best RC cola cake in town. Others can sew – creating the loveliest little dresses for the next Junior Miss pageant. Growing vegetables, like Weezer’s tomatoes, makes you the go-to girl for that special salad at the Junior League luncheon. I crochet doilies, endlessly, which everyone wants for something like Aunt Sally’s drop-leaf table. You never know when someone is going to put something on that polished mahogany. Doilies protect the aged wood surface from such uncouth behavior.
5. Appropriate Sayings - You must have a plethora of sayings to fit any occasion and be able to use them appropriately. For instance, if someone in your club is acting snooty, you use “I wish I could buy her for what she’s worth and sell her for what she thinks she’s worth. I’d be a millionaire.” Or, if someone needs to know the unvarnished truth, you can say “I’m not here to blow sunshine up your skirt” (that one I borrowed from Jean).
6. Never Leave Home without Make-up On and Your Hair Styled – Even if you are just running to the grocery store, you must be properly coiffed, painted and dressed. You never know who you’re going to run into on the produce aisle. It would never do to be the subject of talk at the next club meeting about how bad you looked standing next to the cantaloupes.
7. Quirky Relatives – Every Southern family must have at least one “quirky” relative ( a nice way to say a relative is “as crazy as a bedbug”). For instance, Aunt Betty Sue like cats; she has thirty of them, all named for a Confederate General or an important battle of the Civil War.
8. Be One of the “Boys” – You must be able to be one of the “boys” while maintaining you “Scarlett O’Hara” femininity. Having the ability to join your husband at the local fishing hole in the morning, clean and gut the catch at noon and then attend a local cotillion at two o’clock that afternoon (gloves cover a multitude of sins) is a plus in any Southern gentleman’s opinion. Men like to brag about their “women” that way.
9. Being Well-read – Every Southern woman must reading a book at any given time. You must be conversant about all Southern writers like Harper Lee, William Faulkner or the down-trodden Zelda. Being literate is what separates us from the beasts.
10. Never EVER Raise Your Voice – Southern women must be soft-spoken. It goes with the accent. Yelling and stomping your foot is never considered polite behavior. You must have the ability to shred someone into pieces for a social slight while remaining lady-like and soft-spoken. Delivery of a cut direct or a stinging barb while your voice drips Tupelo honey makes you a Southern lady.

So, these are some of the traits as I see them Please add a few of your own to the list. If we get enough, perhaps we should see about turning this into a book. I believe it would be a New York Times best seller because, after all, who wouldn’t want to be a Southern Lady?


  1. As you know, The Guy is Not From Here. He's been hear a long time and has adapted, especially after he had me to boss him around. When he has to write a letter, he always asks me to look at it. Over the weekend he was corresponding with someone in Washington State. At some point I said, "Do you want me to look at your reply?" He said, "Oh, no. I've already sent it. This is a Pacific North Westerner. I can be blunt."

  2. Oh, I see a few things on this list that make me a Yankee. Doesn't it count that I'm a born and bred Texan? Just because I've moved all over the world and don't have as deep as accent as everyone else, does that count me out? ;)

    A good southern woman takes life in stride and does not complain, at least in public.

    A good southern woman knows she comes from good stock and carries herself as though she knows it.

    A good southern woman never knows when to admit defeat because defeat is not in her vocabulary, though she is quite well-versed. ;)

  3. Sigh, I will NEVER be a true southerner just based on the fact that I don't belong to a club. And my roots won't ever matter here because they are stretched all the way from the Netherlands to Canada to the US to New Zealand to Australia. Sigh again. However, I am in full agreement about the hair/makeup thing and I know how to hang out with the guys. I learned how to gut and skin a fish when I was a girl growing up in Northern Canada. And yes, gloves, or in my case mittens, cover a multitude of sins :-)

    I love your stories and posts!

  4. I love that I can count on being called "Miss Marilyn." Doesn't matter I've been married (and divorced) and just hit the six-decade mark. And while I'm not a member, I am eligible for the DAR (my great-great-great-great grandfather on my daddy's side) and the Daughters of the Confederacy (great-great grandfather on my daddy's side was killed at Gettysburg).

    And yes, we embrace our crazy relatives. As Julia Sugarbaker said, not only do we parade them out in public, but we argue over whose side of the family they're on.

    You forgot about "Bless her heart." You can say just about anything about anybody as long as it's prefaced or followed with "Bless her heart." That little Smith girl is such a homely thing, bless her heart.

  5. Jean, I too am married to someone who is not a Southerner. He is a New Yorker and we all know how blunt New Yorkers can be. He's been down here about 35 years and has learned how to be somewhat Southern although he does have lapses.

    Oh definitely Kathy. We count you as a Southerner! And yes, you are right about the complaining in public, we stoically take what is dished out in public but believe me any slight will "come home to roost" if it involves a Southern lady. Defeat? No, we do not recognize defeat nor do we ever give up. I always think of Scarlett...

    Christine, we will make you an honorary Southerner! You have the qualifications if you can gut and clean a fish :). We're glad you came South!

    Ah yes PM, I am now "Miss Cheryl", especially with my boys. I hear it so much I am thinking of changing my name! I too am eligible for DAR and the Daughters of the Confederacy. Hey, my great-great grandfather fought at Gettysburg in the Yancey Greys, part of the 14th Alabama. What unit was yours in? I am going there to stand on Seminary Ridge where he fought and I'll gladly take pictures of where yours fought and died. We Southerners must keep our heritage for their sakes. I also have a few of those special relatives and we smile and laugh with them at reunions. "Bless her heart" is a great saying. Like you said sometimes it's heartfelt and, well, sometimes it can be snide. :) Aren't we good at that?

  6. I have no clue what unit he was in. All I have is a Xeroxed family history with a notation beside his name that he was killed at Gettysburg. He would have been with a unit from my home state of North Carolina.

  7. Thanks for making me an honorary southerner, Cheryl. :-)

  8. Great list! I see myself and my mother in many of them. She was the QUEEN of #6. She didn't really think we should come downstairs for the day without make up and hair done.

  9. Pm, I will look for the South Carolina units and if I find them I will take pictures for you.

    You're welcome Christine! We are glad to count you among our ranks.

    Stephanie, I KNOW what you mean! I must admit, though, I am also one of those who won't let too many people see me without make-up and my hair fixed. I don't think there are enough psychologists to handle the shock!

  10. Awesome, Cheryl! LOL! I am a DAR, but have managed to avoid clubs. Except for the DAR meetings, of course. I admit to having relaxed the make up and hair rule when on deadline, though I'm *always* uncomfortable when I dash to the store without my paint. ;)

    Fiddle dee dee, y'all! I must say that Kim, Kira, and I were a hit whenever we opened our mouths and let the accents out in California last week.