Sometimes we need to see life through someone else's eyes to appreciate our world. While living in Charleston I had such an experience.
A co-worker of mine who comes from North of the Mason Dixon line was still getting used to being among-st us. She appreciated southern culture - that of the refined gentile lifestyle, where our tables are set with sterling silver, all the children know their manners, and (most) everyone is friendly and helpful. She was a little taken aback when while walking her dogs one evening she noticed that her neighbors carried glasses of wine while walking their canines (the men carried bottles of beer).If that did not set her back, a visit to her hair dresser may have. She went to an upscale salon on King Street that offers their clientele a glass of white wine during their visit. She saw that as hospitable. It was the gentlemen who walked in carrying highballs of bourbon to get their hair cut, that threw her. (Seems a well known bar is next door and the men would stop there first to pick up a bit of refreshment before coming in for their appointments.)
She asked me if this was the norm or the exception. I explained this was pretty much the norm in Charleston, the southern culture even with its manners, civility, breeding, and good taste, was much more relaxed when it came to our social ways. Basically we enjoy entertaining and having a good time. Not that we approach life with reckless abandon, but we go large or go home. (For example, where else do men think nothing of wearing Kelly green ties with pink flamingos on them, bright plaid madras pants, or seersucker suits of any color - in public.)
Then I told her about our girls trip last summer where the five of us commandeered a table by the pool for a week at the small boutique hotel where we were staying in the Keys. We needed it to accommodate our half gallons of vodka and scotch and cooler of beer, wine, and champagne, as well as the mixers and garnishes. Early every morning we would start with Bloody Marys and Mimosas, move on to beer and by the late afternoon be into the liquor or wine. At the beginning of the week, we were getting odd looks from the other guests. However by mid week, we could tell those looks of mild objection had turned to more than slight envy.
When I finished my tale I realized the expression on my friend's face indicated she would never look at me in the same light. I'm not sure if my story confirmed what she thought she knew or revealed a side of me that scared her. It is what it is.
Later she asked a gentleman in our office (who was from Pennsylvania), "Do you notice they drink down here a lot?"
The conversation among the three of us continued about the social norms in Charleston and how strong one's constitution had to be to keep up. I made it clear that I was an old dog and knew when it was time to climb back on the porch.
The conversation ended with my comment,"And, we haven't even gotten to football season yet."