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.....