I was in a different part of the country a while back and someone commented on my accent. "You must be from the south. I love the way you talk." I thanked her (assuming it was a compliment). We were attending a meeting and were at the buffet lunch the second day of the conference. As we moved down the line of food, I was surprised that they had fried chicken as one of the selections. (Of course should I be surprised, given it is the current "In" Foodie crave?) I took a piece and put in on my plate.
The lady who had commented earlier was behind me in line. "I just knew you would have the chicken. Does you mother really cook chicken like that?" "Yes," I laughed, "Every Sunday." We moved on down the line. I picked up a glass of un-sweetened tea. "Don't you drink sweet tea?" "Well I do. I just add Sweet 'n Low to mine because I don't want all the calories." She had to think about that one. It was as if it didn't compute.
I was hoping that she would get distracted and I could get lost, find myself across the room from her, and sit at some unsuspecting table. But, no such luck. "Come with us?" Oh, God, I thought there are more. This will be examination by committee.
When we sat down and started making introductions, I seriously considered telling them my name was Scarlet. (And, yes, my husband, Rhett, and daughter, Bonnie, were back home.) But, decided against it. By look of the crowd, I swore I had seen them walking the streets of Charleston, guide books in hand, staring in the windows of the poor souls who happen to live on the peninsula, and pulling their cameras out of their fanny packs every time a horse drawn tour carriage came by. I was gracious. Bless their hearts, my Aunt Kat would have been proud.
We exchanged pleasantries and before we started to eat, they all looked at me. I looked around and smiled, "What?" One of them piped up, "Do we need to hold hands and pray before we eat?" "Well, of course, whatever suits you." "No, not us", she added, "everyone from the south is one of those Baptist we see on TV. And, we don't want to offend you." I just laughed nervously. You are not going to offend me. I am happy to say grace, however, I am not a Baptist and don't assume that everyone from the south is.
We started eating our salad. The conversation was light and chatty. We talked about where we were from. And, as I often find with women, they had some interesting questions about life in south? Are the men really nicer? (Yes, the ones who were reared right) Are manners still important? (Yes, if you are civilized) Do you really call older women "Miss so and so" and older men "Mr. so and so", just like you see on TV? (Yep.) I added, "And, no I do not know Honey Boo Boo, anyone from Duck Dynasty, nor have I ever dated a cousin of mine." They just laughed.
These women were just like me. Is the south really that peculiar? Maybe, we just make it out to be different because we tend to hang on to things for a long time - OK, forever.
Then I picked up my piece of fried chicken with my fingers. The table got quiet. I could hear what was going through their heads. "OMG, they really do eat fried chicken with their fingers - just like the encyclopedia said."
On second thought, we are a different breed.