And the southern girls with the way they talk, they knock me out when I'm down there. -Brian Wilson, California Girls
Sifting through mounds of my junk I find a stack of vinyl albums. (For those of you unfamiliar with these, I refer to flat, grooved discs the size of dinner plates. By putting them on a contraption known as a "turntable" you could cause music to blare forth from huge speakers that doubled as end tables.) Anyway, among the selections were the Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker, Allman Brothers Band and ZZ Topp. Back in the day these countrified southern rockers were all the rage.
Time for a quick local geography lesson. I huddle in northern Virginia, which might as well be a separate state. We pride ourselves on being sophisticated people who put our beer in glasses. We speak with nary a trace of southern drawl. We couldn't name a single NASCAR driver. And we look askance at the backwards rubes downstate.
So I'm preparing to graduate from high school and settle in for a lifetime spent lounging about my parents' home. Talk about a rude awakening---mom storms into my room to inform me that if I don't go to college I'll be living al fresco. I'm scrambling, trying to find a college that would accept a slacker whose SAT score was in the top 1 percentile and yet had a meager .8 GPA. The only one that would was located five hours southwest of here, deep in the benighted hinterlands. Let's just say I was less than thrilled about the prospect of mingling with the great unwashed of rural VA. Boy was I in for a pleasant surprise.
My first roommate Skin hailed from Richmond, former capital of the Confederacy. He called the Civil War the War of Aggression. He promptly announced that the only thing black at his private high school was the tires on the bus. I'm like, oh...my...god. But he turned out to be one of the wittiest guys I'd ever met. Despite his bigotry, we hit it off swimmingly. We'd frequent a local pool hall where I found it surprisingly easy to hustle the locals out of their hard-earned paychecks again and again. I was that kid who grew up with a pool table in his basement.
Likewise, all the gals I dated were ditzy southern belles. I couldn't get enough of their lilting drawls, homespun ways and elaborate tattoos. One was even a debutante, though you wouldn't know it from... er, never mind.
It was Skin who introduced me to the hick music. We'd blare it in his souped-up 69 'Maro en route to pig roasts where keg beer and moonshine flowed like blood from a gaping head wound. Had there been a hoedown or a hootenanny we'd have attended that too. Mortifying as it is to admit now, I was country when country wasn't cool. And I'm not talking Faith Hill, I'm talking Loretta Lynn.
When I returned home my parents were floored. The detached cynic they'd raised had been transformed into Jethro Bodean from the Beverly Hillbillies. I had the drawl down pat. Tattered overalls and a cowboy hat put the crowning touch on my newfound Dogpatch persona.
Renecks, like blondes and lawyers, still find themselves the butt of cruel jokes. Somehow the umbrella of political correctness never extended to them. To add insult to injury, tornados touch down and immediately hone in on the nearest trailer park. Since these humble abodes lack basements, the slack-jawed yokels who reside therein are advised to seek refuge in a ditch. A lot of good that'll do ya in a twister.
But y'all shore do seem to trust we southerners more'n you do shifty-eyed northerners. Of the last ten presidents elected or selected, six hailed from the heart of Dixie. Only two called northern states home, Ford and Kennedy. Ford's presidency was a fluke so he doesn't count. Kennedy got shot dead three years into his tenure---in Texas, stomping grounds of ZZ Topp.
Yup, as Charlie Daniels once put it, the South's gonna do it again. Shore it is.
Adding a comment to your own post is a little like masturbating when you're married or in a live-in relationship. But pathetic as it is, a lot of people do it anyway.
I just thought it looked lonely, like a wallflower at a lively party. On to Ordinary Morning, there's nothing shaking here and everyone else at the House of Anna is @ the water park.
by anna at June 14, 2003 3:01 PM
woo! shout out for chester, virginia! er, okay. so i loved growing up there so much that i moved as far away as possible while remaining in the continental us. and i never went cow tipping. i have caught crawdads out of a creek. i've never chewed tobacco. even now, when the planets are aligned just right, i may find myself listening to lynard skynard. but don't tell anyone.
by laura at June 14, 2003 3:18 PM
I know Chester, the saucy debutante was from those parts. She invited me home for Christmas break one year. Her socialite mom was just tickled pink with her daughter's selection of a bedraggled guy from "naw-then Virginia."
At one point the debutante actually said, "It's just the normal noises in here." I think this was before that line appeared between songs on Tom Petty's Damn the Torpedos.
by anna at June 14, 2003 3:42 PM
Let the record reflect that before the meltdown this post attracted a respectable 10 comments. We had a genuine thread goin' on.
by anna at June 20, 2003 5:32 PM
Ok, a few things here:
In general Southerners tend to view the North as less refined and less mannerly. I think that as a whole the South is where you find more a genteel way, a warmer and friendly tone of voice, and in general better manners. The old artistocric cities in the South such as Richmond, Charleston, and Savannah, and the slower pace of life allows for these things.
NASCAR perhaps has a Southern identity, but not all Southerners admire it. I for one hate it. Being a true Southerner of the old school is learning how to tolerate our peckerwood neighbors and keep a stiff upper liip, while still trying to hold on to what ever shred of dignity we have.
by Meade Skelton at October 26, 2004 7:49 AM