Most of you that know me are thinking “I know that”.
However, what you might not know is how many years I spent trying to hide it.
I was born in Virginia and lived there for the first 4 years of my life. When my dad was diagnosed with the illness that eventually took his life, he decided to move us to Mississippi, to be closer to his family.
I didn’t have a southern accent at that point. Kids called me a Yankee. My parents told me to tell them that Virginia was the capital of the confederacy. (Side note, as a kid I had no idea how shameful being proud of that was). Eventually I assimilated and adopted a fairly heavy southern accent.
Fast forward to age 26 and I moved to Oregon. Everywhere I went, people asked me where I was from. I’d use phrases totally common and every day to me and would usually be met with either a blank stare or raucous laughter.
The stares I didn’t mind so much. The laughter and constant ribbing was another matter. It’s one thing to be teased every now and then. But to be laughed at daily is wearing on a person’s soul.
So I consciously set out to de-Southern myself. I paid attention to how people in Oregon spoke. And by the way? Y’all don’t speak in complete sentences up here. The first time someone asked me if I wanted to go with? I stood there for a good 45 seconds waiting for that person to finish the sentence. Go with who????
My Southern-ness, if you will, was just another part of myself I lost in the last 15 years. Oh it would still come out from time to time. A good friend of mine tells me when I get really upset she can barely understand me, it gets so thick.
As with many things in my life, having a child leads to realizations. Ava is an Oregonian. Born and raised. And I want her to be proud of that. To not be ever ashamed to admit where she comes from. And I can’t raise her to have pride if I don’t walk the walk. There are good things and bad things about every place. The South is no exception. We have dark, horrible history. But we also have some of the friendliest people, the best food and the most laid back way of life.
So in that light I’ve decided to re-embrace being a Southerner. But I believe some things are universal: Love of family and country, being gracious, using your manners, treating elders with respect. So even though I associate with Yankees, the ones I do have around me are damn fine ones.
However, I will be the first to admit we use some, shall we say, peculiar phrasing in the South. So to help you out if you are around me, I offer you this handy dandy Southern to English dictionary. I reckon I’m fixin to start getting a lot more questions about where I’m from again.
You= 1 person
Y’all = 2 people
All ya’ll = 3+ people
Buggy = shopping cart
Dressing = stuffing
Fixin to = Getting ready to do something “I’m fixing to go to the grocery store” means I’m about to go to the grocery store. No, I don’t know where it comes from, yes I know it sounds silly, and yes I will say it anyway.
Yonder = measurement of distance. Not precise, not quite as far as “aways”.
Ugly = Being rude or unkind.
Reckon = to think or believe. “I reckon y’all need to bring the dressing on Thanksgiving”
Coke = any carbonated beverage. In the South if someone asks you for a coke, you better specify what kind.
Bless her/his heart = That person is a fucking moron, but we are too polite to say it out loud.
Honey = this one is tricky. It could be a term of endearment…or it could be that shit is about to hit the fan. Listen carefully to the tone of the speaker for clarification.
Fish or cut bait = make up your mind already!
Do what? = What did you just say?
Spell = measurement of time. “Have a seat next to me and stay a spell”
Sugar = kiss- Most commonly used by Southern grandmas. “Come over here and give me some sugar”. This is usually followed by looks of horror from the grandchildren.
Isn’t that precious? = The most ridiculous thing we’ve heard to date, but again we are too polite to say that out loud.
All get-out = superlative (to the utmost degree) Busier than all get-out = Busiest I’ve ever been.
Pitch = To have, usually related to fits
Hissy fit = Mild fit, can usually be weathered
Conniption fit = more severe, person who is the reason for said fit might want to run away and lie low for a spell.
Ain’t = am not, are not, is not, have not, has not
What in the Sam Hill? = What the Hell?
Get glad in the same britches you got mad in = Suck it up and get over it
Madder than a wet hen = seriously pissed off. Conniption fit to soon follow.
Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise = If nothing catastrophic happens, usually said in response to someone saying “See you later”
A mess = unit of measurement, usually related to food; isn’t precise : I’m fixing to cook up a mess of fish.