Hi from my bunk, somewhere outside of Chattanooga, everyone. Please accept my apologies for not blogging in, I don't know, like 14 years.
I realized that I was overdue the other night when Seggie encouraged the audience to check out our website to post their photos & videos from the concert, something else I kinda zoned out on, and "read some of our long-winded blogs." I turned to Don (the redheaded new guy) and said, "You should put a new blog up on the website," to which he replied "YOU should put a new blog up on the website."
He was right, albeit a little too sassy about it for a guy who's only been in the group for 20 minutes. It's true, though: I've been MIA from the site for awhile and don't really have any legitimate excuse that merits my time away from bringing y'all up to speed on what's going on in our world.
Wait...did I just type "y'all?"
(Reads previous sentence)
Huh. Yep, sure did.
That brings me to tonight's topic: why I love the South.*
*Contrary to what some people in Southern Indiana will tell you by their proclivity to drive around with Confederate flag bumper stickers on their cars, "The South" will henceforth be defined, in this blog entry at least, as any state that legitimately fought under Jefferson Davis in the Civil War and/or has a collective penchant for sweet tea, wrap-around porches, or calling it "PE-can pie." That's a whole other blog entry, though. (It's pe-CAHN, by the way...)
Oh, and before anyone gets all Ken Burns on me or ponders to themselves "What does he know about the South, being from the Midwest," I'm well aware there were some states that were kiiiinda on the fence with whose side they were on back in the mid-19th century (Kansas, Missouri, I'm looking at you). Trust me, I totally nerded out as a kid and went on a big Civil War kick from age 10 to ohhhhh...now. If you haven't seen "Glory," you need to call your local Blockbuster, have them save you a copy of the VHS before anyone else gets to it, and get hip to it immediately. Might be Matthew Broderick's best role ever after Ferris Bueller. And that campfire singalong scene where Denzel breaks down? C'mon!
But I digress.
I moved around a lot as a Navy kid and spent 1st & 2nd grade in Pascagoula, MS while my Dad was stationed there. Our home was within walking distance of the Gulf of Mexico and, get this, on a bayou. A bayou! I don't even know what the exact definition of a bayou is, but we lived on one for two years and if that's not street cred for knowing something about the South, then I don't know what is. Plus, it's just fun to say. Bayou. Go ahead, say it out loud. Bayou.
Now say "down by the bayou" five or six times. Really try out some different accents, too. Get comfy with it. Your co-workers won't notice.
I recall clearly having a fearful respect of that opaque, brownish water just past our backyard and the various critters (aka "swamp monsters" aka "swonsters") that inhabited them. One time, I saw an alligator fighting a snapping turtle eating a baby Sasquatch in the water. Not really, but think how awesome that would be. My money'd be on the baby Sasquatch. I would name him something totally rad like Captain Baby Sasquatch or, like...Clancy or something. (Dibs on the intellectual property of "Captain Baby Sasquatch" and future series of children's books, merchandise line, and smash Pixar film)
Plus...plus!...both sets of my grandparents lived in Florida and Florida's for sure somewhere near the South. (= more street cred)
Shoot, the little league team I played on in Mississippi was sponsored by the local Magnolia Skating Rink. In case you didn't know, the magnolia is the official state flower of every state in the South. They smell like angel wings. (For the record, by "played on," I mean "hung out in left field the whole game while sifting dirt through my hat with four other kids, one of whom I don't even think spoke once all season.")
Again... Street. Cred. I'm basically in Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Did I mention that I totally ralphed all over the place once at a friend's birthday party at Magnolia Skating Rink? Yeah, there was a good stretch circa 1989-94 that I would just straight-up barf in public. Dentist's office, busy restaurant after church, on the bus on the third day of school as the new kid... You name it, odds are young me barfed there. Hey, thanks for inviting me to your pizza party, I'm gonna go over here and barf all over the place, just kinda nonchalantly skate away, and then totally play dumb when someone discovers it and yells "Aw, gross! Someone just totally barfed all over the place!" Then my Mom'll pick me up and ask how the party was and I'll say something like "Oh, it was good, I definitely didn't throw up after the presents and before the couples skate. Can we just go home so I can look through my telescope and never talk about this again?"
Now that I've offended everyone in the South and probably made everyone reading this throw up a little in their mouths, I guess it's time I should actually get back to my original thesis.
Here are some things that I absolutely love about the South:
1. Y'all. Freaking love it. You + all = y'all. (Ex.: "How y'all doing?") It's like we're good friends and total strangers at the same time!
2. All y'all. Even better! Y'all's awesomely redundant cousin. It's like the Spanish 3rd person ustedes form on steroids. All + you all = all y'all. (Ex.: "Are all y'all going to Piggly Wiggly?")
3. All y'all's. This one's a little tougher to grasp technically, but it's basically used to express a collective ownership of something. (Ex.: "Make sure y'all have all y'all's permission slips signed and on my desk by Friday.") Author's note: the northern version of "all y'all's" is "your guys's."
4. Truck stops. I woke up outside a Love's truck stop in Texas recently, went in to survey the various sundries, and walked out proudly clutching a one-pound canister of beef jerky that I acquired for $27.99. Robertson's from Oklahoma; check it out. Worth every penny. (By the way, as much as I love me some truck stops, no one I know loves them more than Mike. That guy has sent me texts at 2:30 in the morning that say "Pilot station in 15 minutes. You in?")
5. Spanish moss. I know, I know, it's actually bad for the trees, but it's so cool looking. It's like a lip piercing the tree got when it was 16 and then it has to go to a job interview at 22.
6. The food. Do I really need to elaborate?
7. Our drivers, The Brothers Mickle, how much they loathe LSU football, and how they can make "Roll Tide" into a legitimate response to anything. I know of no finer human beings than those two guys. I want to experience a real Cullman, Alabama cookout with them before I die. Roll Tide.
8. The subtly scandalous undertones of the phrase "Everything's bigger in Texas."
9. How a cowboy hat and cut-off t-shirt is completely socially acceptable evening-wear. Dude in the audience in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, you know who you are.
10. The term "Bless his/her/your/their heart(s)." It's juuuuuust barely more sweet than it is condescending.
11. The immediately disarming charm of a southern accent. Gets me every time.
12. The tea. Good night, the tea is good in the South. I like to go my Papa's route and throw in 2 or 3 or 9 lemon wedges so it's more like tea-flavored lemon juice.
13. How my Nana says "Good night" as a substitute for "My goodness."
14. Ghost tours. I've never been on one, but I'm going the next time I'm in Charleston. Still, love 'em.
15. The combination of salt and decay wafting through the air down by the bayou.
16. Tonight's crowd in Chattanooga. Wow. Thank you if you were there!
17. Ft. Smith, Arkansas' airport. It's the coziest, warmest (kinda oddest) airport I've ever experienced. There are no less than 217 of the most comfortable-looking wingback chairs that greet you as you stroll through its expansive 4 gates. I seriously thought an old woman wearing a bonnet was going to invite me to a game of checkers as I exited the gangway.
18. Our lighting guy Blake and how much he loves his hometown of Houston. He owns hundreds, if not thousands of Houston-related articles of clothing and only about 1/3rd of them have what "society" would call "sleeves." I kid you not, go up to him at intermission and ask him what Houston shirt he's wearing. He'll be the guy wearing the Astros hat and the beard.
19. How young women will call older women "ma'am" like...always.
20. How stinkin' friendly the people are. You continuously raise the bar for us Midwesterners, southern brothers and sisters, and that's saying something.
Can't wait to get back down here soon and sing again for y'all.
(I can say it, I lived here for awhile.)
All y'all's truly,