Monday, May 24, 2010

Growing Up Southern

Friend Richard is working on a new book about growing up Southern. We Southerners take our idiosyncracies for granted, I believe, and are taken aback when some little quirk that comes so naturally to us - speech, mannerisms, humor, story-telling - is pointed out to us by non-Southerners. As much as I want to pass on some pithy anecdotes for Richard's book, this ingrained-ness has made teasing out the stuff distinctly "Southern" troublesome for me.

Of course there are the usual suspects: our over-the-top love of Co-Cola, fried okra, church on Sunday, family reunions, outrageous (and outrageously told) stories, Gospel music, Steel Magnolia mamas, hard-workin' daddies (pronounced "deddies"), and Vacation Bible School.

And the burdens we carry: antebellum/plantation/slave-ownin' history, gun-totin' bubbas, trailer trash, some folks who are conservative-to-the-point-of-unChristian, 100%+ humidity in the summertime, and the fact that any time a news organization interviews someone from the South, they head for the fattest, greasiest, most toothless idiot they can find. (Hey! Who's in charge of PR for the South?  We've got some shorin' up to do.)

But delving into my mama-isms, school and church experiences, and musical tastes (be that music or food), a lot of what I'm coming up with may or may not be distinctly Southern. Maybe it's more about the time and circumstances into which I was born - "Greatest Generation" parents/"Baby Boomer" kids in 1950s/60s. Maybe it's just the standard middle-class experience of that era with a Southern swirl on top.

I do have a solid list of real Southern stuff to pass along. Deep down inside, I know that I'm different from anyone raised outside the South. Yes, there is some indefensible baggage, but mostly it's wonderful, shiny, hilarious DNA that I'm proud to have.

But if any of you Southerners have something you'd like to pass on to Richard for his book, let me know and I'll put you in contact with him.

9 comments:

Richard said...

THANK YOU MA'AM! This is far more valuable than you know. NOW -- unless I hear otherwise from you, may I pan Shorty PJ's for nuggets of Magnolia wisdom? I will give it credit, and you pre-publication approval. What say?

MaryB said...

Be my guest. I'm creating a couple of new posts of things that come to mind. And I had every intention of scouring the blog for things that might interest you, but, er, that hasn't happened yet. I will get that done, as a back-up for the your list.

Anonymous said...

Never cared much for Vacation Bible School. More like school than a vacation.

MaryB said...

Agreed, Bro - but we did make some nifty things out of popsicle sticks and macaroni sprayed gold. And the popsicles, of course. But the more I think about it, the weirder it seems that we had to pledge to the Christian flag. What? Did Jesus even carry a flag? Wait - I feel this deserves a blog-post.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but the first anonymous was not from me.(sounds like cuz Steve) VBS... Seems as though one year when we moved from Chatt. to Perry we attended three maybe four VBS that year... Chatt., Atlanta, Nashville, and Perry. Hey, enough is enough. I see VBS signs during the summer and I get depressed. I totally agree with anonymous no. 1. VBS was more like school than vacation!
Bro.

Anonymous said...

Now if someone would play that dammed "sit down chord" we could all relax!!
Bro.

MaryB said...

Guess I thought it was you, Bro, since the comment hit my email the same time as your "Redneck Church." (Sorry, Cuz.)

Yes, one year we went to Brainerd Baptist VBS, Oakland City VBS, whatever the Bordeaux/Nashville VBS, and I think that might be the year we went with the Branums to the Church of Christ VBS.

Wonder what happened to all those popsicle-stick crafts?

Anonymous said...

"Sounds like cuz Steve," indeed. And what, pray tell, does cuz Steve sound like? I will, however, defer to your wisdom inasmuch as you are the oldest cousin.

And, Cousin Mary, if we are talking Southern, let's not leave out that old Southern tradition of close relatives producing offspring. Now that's Southern!!

MaryB said...

Or maybe Anonymous is just a casual bystander and not a relative. Just anti-VBS. :-)

Whoa, Cuz. I don't think we've had close relative producing offspring in, what?, at least 2 generations. :-O