Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Southern Primer

I once dated an architect from NY when I was living in DC. He was NY born and reared. When I asked him where he went when he wanted to get outside and away from it all, he looked slightly horrified. "Away? I have Central Park..." was his utterly puzzled reply. He was intrigued by all things Southern: William Faulkner, Willa Cather, the 'deep South,' and my Southern accent.

I tried to explain AR isn't considered part of the 'deep South,' but he'd just get a glazed look in his eye the way most Northerners do when a Southerner talks about things south of the Mason-Dixon line. They have their preconceived notions. Right after you start speaking, they glance at your feet instinctively to see if you're wearing shoes. Seriously, I swear it happens. Then they mock your accent, or gently make fun of it somehow. Little realizing their accent is just as distinctive. After 14 years away from the South, living out west and then east, I considered my accent mild, but whenever I opened my mouth someone who didn't know me would make a comment. Mostly derogatory. I didn't bother to comment on their accent, but truthfully I prefer a southern drawl* to a sharp- pitched nasal twang. One art director I worked with at a magazine was also from NY. One time she actually said, "Yu know you're a smatt gurlll, but yu really need to looss your accent or people will think you're stupid." Only she said it very quickly, about the speed of light. I paused for dramatic effect and channeled Tulullah Bankhead and in my best drawn-out Southern drawl purred, "Wallll, yo husssband doesn't myind maa accent......" She fumed. And to his credit, he turned beet-red, which further pissed her off.

Any hoo, said architect did a few annoying things a boy reared correctly in the South would never do,** chief among them was to put me on a bus at the end of one date in the pouring rain, to find my way back to my hotel, in which I had to walk a block from the bus stop, thus soaking a new pair of Ann Taylor suede pumps. As the doors were closing, he actually said a lot of his friends considered him to be just like a courtly Southern gentlemen, or at least as they imagined one would act. I smiled gently back and just as the doors shut told him that he would never be mistaken for a Southerner.

*An authentic Southern accent is hard to 'do' -- most non-Southern actors trying to speak in a Southern accent sound horrid. Surprisingly, the actors born overseas do a far better job!
**A Southern gentleman never stands up a lady on a date - that is a woman's prerogative.
He never allows a lady to pay on the first few dates -- especially the first date -- regardless of whether she asked him out.
He walks on the outside of a sidewalk, opens doors and car doors, and half stands when she leaves the table or comes back to the table.
He doesn't answer cell phones or texts while he's with his date (unless it's an emergency or the POTUS calling).
He most certainly doesn't ogle other women.
He doesn't wear a hat inside.

These are sacrosanct. All the rest you figure out as you go along.....

24 comments:

Jayne Martin said...

I didn't realize those gentlemanly manners were southern in origin, but I do think they should be mandatory teaching for the mother of any son. Good post.

Jacey @ Trash2MyTreasure said...

Thanks so much for yoru sweet comments and for stopping by my blog, I appreciate it :)
Jacey

Secretia said...

There's a big shortage of southern gentlemen anymore.

ReformingGeek said...

Oh, you are SO right! Actors from overseas definitely do a better job with our accents and those points about southern date etiquette are SPOT ON.

Here's a big AMEN and a YEEHAW from this Texan.

;-)

e said...

I think you should publish this in a wider venue if you haven't already done so. You are spot on, even if I'm not from Texas.

Eva Gallant said...

Great post...good manners are so often absent!

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

I'm so glad you stopped by my blog or I might not have found yours.

What a great post. My sister has lived in Georgia for about 10 years now and every once in a while I detect a slight accent. I find it very charming.

plainolebob said...

Amy, Bravo, bravo, bravo, well I guess you know where I'm from, all it takes is one looky at my blog. I loved to comeback you made to the office gal, damn, I am so proud of you.
BIG HUGS

Beverly said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I can't believe you got a qeen size for 60.00!!!! How sad that it was stolen.

wendy said...

Well, I, personally LOVE southern accents. Why do people think just cause you don't sound/talk like they do that your way of sounding is Stupid. THAT is stupid.
I love the movies series North and South (did you watch that) and listening to those southern gentleman speak puts goosebumps on my arms (or was it Patrick Swayze in particular?)

also ---I will have to see if I can find me some BACH

Chris said...

I remember trying to let a girl out of the car at the curb after church one afternoon, and my father said, "You didn't find that girl on the street, and you are not going to leave her there." Those Southern manners don't come without instruction.

Just Playin' said...

You are so right. If a man is 'raised right' in the South, and most of them are, he treats a lady right!!! I got one myself.

Just Playin' said...

Let me know when you are in Atlanta....if you need anything or want company.

From the O-Zone said...

I've always walked on the outside and opened doors, but it was never anything I was taught. Maybe it's genetic thing.

Leslie said...

My momma was from the South and it was an expectation that men had certain manners. As did young ladies, until I was 17 I had to dress for supper (parents divorce and everything went out the window). A lady was NEVAH put on a bus (Oh my!), but taken to her home and walked right up to her door and then he waited until she was inside and her door was locked.

I Wonder Wye said...

Chris: LOL. I can just hear your sweet daddy say that!

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Amy, loved the way of how those men treat the ladies. I accept and like everybody's accent.
Happy Sunday!!
xxx

CatLadyLarew said...

Accents... I'm originally from the midwest,(the land of no accents,) but when I moved to upstate New York, everyone thought I had an accent. Say, what? Then when I was in Wales, the people we were hanging out with loved hearing us talk because they said we sounded like Muppets. Go figure! At least that makes more sense to me.

And I don't care where you're from. Putting your date on a bus in the rain is tacky!

Sandy said...

Based on your description of a Southern gentleman, I'd say my husssband was a southerner in another life. Or maybe it's just his generation. I absolutely loved your line to that woman. Thanks for stopping by, love your blog and will be back.

Kate said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Really likeed this post. I love Southern accents sound really sexy to me!

Kate x

Keith said...

Hey there. Nice post. Happy Sunday. Hope you've been enjoying the weekend. Take care. Have a great week ahead. Cheers!

Kristina P. said...

I don't think I've ever met a true Southern gentleman. And I love your hair! It's gorgeous!

strokeofliving said...

Yup the "well your husband doesn't mind my accent" comment is something that I would totally say in mixed company to embarrass the woman. And then I'd sleep like a baby all night.

kys said...

Love your comeback!