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?