While we sat there that evening talking they started asking questions and as more rounds of wine were poured their inquiries seemed more and more to come my direction. "Do you really have your own personal note cards?"
" Are your daughter's clothes monogrammed?"
"Do you have those things down there, you know those dances called, oh what are they? Cotillions, yeah Cotillions, do you have those?"
Finally I made them stop. Yes, I explained, I did have some personal note cards. And, yes, both my daughters did wear some monogrammed clothes. Then I did my best to explain that we were just generally social down here and the term "cotillion" could refer to the couples' dance club my husband and I were in or the organization of mothers who had formal dances for their high school aged daughters twice a year. I figured they really meant debutante balls but I wasn't about to go down that rabbit hole with them.
The round robin discussion about monogrammed clothes made it sound as if I was sending my children off to school every day either with their names emboldened across their chest or the family crest stitched on them. It got lost in translation. I hoped no one thought to ask me about monogrammed sheets and towels or, God forbid, glassware.
Then one young girl from Wisconsin commented, "Well I'm just not sure what I would do with the personal note cards. I only write my grandmother because she doesn't use email. What would I do with the rest of it."
Another lady from California laughed,"Oh, I imagine she writes a lot of notes. (Speaking as if I were not at the table.) Down there they write notes for everything, thanking you for anything you did, to let you know she was thinking about you, or that she will not be able to come to your party."
"Well, it is just something we were brought up doing," I added.
"We call it quaint," said the lady from California. So I had been put in my place - quaint.
Then one lady who had been sitting quietly through all this spoke up. "I think if you are smart, you find a mother who has good taste. Then you name your daughter so she has the same initials as the daughter of that lady then you purchase the child's clothes as she grows out of them for your daughter."
I thought for a moment, should I explain the term "tacky" to them. No, I let that one die. But I made a mental note to remind them before the night was over that every young lady in the south does not have a double name that includes 'Billy' or 'Bobby"and our diet includes more than fried food. I wanted them to understand we all do not live in some grand plantation house and some of us drink unsweetened tea. Ladies from the south do not "swoon" (or at least none in my generation that I am aware of). We do venture north of the Mason Dixon Line. Contrary to popular belief, we do not marry our cousins.
I can handle quaint, but somewhere we need to draw the line. I may have a penchant for note writing and my daughters surely knew their initials by age two, however, even though our family tree may be gnarly, it certainly branches out wide.