Southern ways is a matter of upbringing

Published 11:18 am Thursday, September 30, 2021

Being born and raised in Kentucky, I always thought of myself as a southerner. Kentucky seems to be its very own entity as you find people here who live in the urban areas who have no idea how to bate a fishing hook and five minutes later meet someone with a country drawl so thick it sounds like they have their jaws stuffed full of cotton.

I’m a middle of the road type of guy in most things. I don’t lean too far one way or the other. I listen to the news but at the end of the day I store it in my brain in the same category with what I learned in my 8th grade algebra class and virtually anything I ever heard watching Beavis and Butthead. However, I always have been more comfortable in the woods than I ever have being in the city with all the traffic and people.

I have found that the farther out from the city you travel, the more those charming southern ways take precedent.  We went out to the Cracker Barrel for a bite to eat and I ordered an iced tea unsweetened. There was a hush that came across the restaurant and everyone looked at me like I was in the freak show at the circus. I had no intention of drinking unsweet tea because I’d just as soon drink horse urine but I like to add my own sweetener to taste because normally pre made tea has enough sugar to make an elephant go into a diabetic coma.

It’s hard to be more country than we were growing up. I recall as a young man meeting someone for the first time and they would always ask, “Who’s boy are you” which would be the sole determiner if you were to be trusted or not. I remember when I got my first house, a friend gave me a coffee jar with bacon grease in it as a house warming present and what’s more, I appreciated it and used it!

I can remember when I small, Sunday afternoons after church was the approved visiting time and people would come to my parent’s house to catch up or worse we would go to their house. Since I was not the most sociable kid in the world, I was ready to leave as soon as we got there. After what seemed like an eternity, my dad would say, “Well we better head back toward the poor house” and I would celebrate inside my head because I knew we were headed home. However, any southerner knows that there is a whole process of leaving that takes at an hour to play out.

The first step is to announce that you’re leaving. Then you spend another 15 minutes talking about Uncle Junior’s Gall Bladder surgery. You take a few more steps towards the car as you mention how a good rain will help the garden. Then you have to go back to pick a mess of green beans to take home with you. We would take a few more steps towards the car when someone asks about cousin June and then they retreat back into the house to see the pictures they sent last week. In the meantime, I was sitting in the car dreaming about the things I could do once I got back home.

In my opinion, being from the south is more a state of mind that actual physical location and is something that makes us who we are. Let’s get together sometime and talk about it. I’ll bring the bacon grease.