A user manual to crazy Southerners.

Aug 16, 2005

The Bottom Line A user manual to Southerners: because you just don't get them half the time.

Most of my family is from this lame little place in Virginia called Short Pump, and yes I am entitled to call it lame, I've spent tormented summers enough there to recognize the lameness flowing through the town veins. Then there are parts of Ali-family in Louisiana, Alabama, West Virginia, Georgia...well, you understand. After spending time with every branch of my Southern family possible, and living with part of them for awhile, I think I am entitled to present to you:

The South: A User's Guide

1. When in church in Short Pump, it is likely that you will hear some strange things probably not put in the Bible. ("And on the cross, Jesus said unto Paul, 'Get him. Get the Jew.'") If you are black, Asian, Hispanic, South Asian, Native American, liberal, agnostic, depressed (clinically or otherwise), a single parent, gay, bisexual, bi-curious, a hippie, a former hippie, a drug addict, a former drug addict, an alcoholic, a former alcoholic, in a coma, out of a coma, related to someone in or out of a coma, Jewish, Christian and not terrifying, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan, or Northern...you will be horribly offended at some point during the sermon. In fact, in the span of just one sermon, every one of those people might end up being offended.

2. Not everyone in the South is Republican. Do not grab the first person you see on the street and shake them wildly in Bush-related anger because you will probably get killed.

3. Not everyone in the South is a redneck either. Most of them are intelligent and, more to the point, HUMAN people. They can hear you whispering about "a strong family resemblance between the husband and wife, ha ha ha," they can definitely understand you, and some of them probably own guns.

4. When in the South, they do not have the accent, you do. It's best to just throw in the towel and start calling people "yall" right away and pronouncing monosyllabic words with two syllables, because people will draw attention to you if you don't.

5. The South is the origin of crunk. For some reason they are proud of this.


- Old folks' homes
- Farms
- Small, small towns (and we're talking one giant mailbox for the whole town, here)
- Short Pump


- Anywhere with non-white people
- A college
- The Black History Month Parade

7. If you claim to be Southern, at any given point some stranger off the street may come up to you grinning and saying they are a distant cousin. When in the South it's safe to assume that everyone who talks to you first thinks they're your cousin.

8. A gang of non-white people from any college will be seen at some point walking down the street talking about how white people don't have any problems. They will be turning the other cheek to the white homeless man on the street, the group of white prostitutes, and the little white baby screaming because her white mama is slapping her.

9. If you're in West Virginia staying with a couple, the first question should NEVER be "So. Siblings or cousins?" They've heard it before and they will beat you.

10. If you're at a Civil War reenactment, they will always adjust it so that the South wins. DO NOT POINT OUT THAT THE NORTH WON. YOU WILL DIE A PAINFUL DEATH.

11. Even if the way the South ends up winning makes no damn sense, like Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee were playing Twister and Lee won, thus ensuring a victory for the South, or Ulysses S. Grant and his army got transported into the Middle Ages thanks to Robert E. Lee's time travel machine. It probably won't make sense and you are expected to pretend it does, because you don't want to die at the hands of crazy old people.

12. If you are in a ma-and-pa shop, it's safe to assume that at any point you will end up talking to Ma and Pa and you don't want to be insulting their produce when you are.

13. No, those aren't Crunk Superstar #572's real teeth. No, he doesn't need those. No, you are not allowed to ask about it. Yes, you will get beaten up if you do.

14. Don't ever, ever, ever, ever intentionally antagonize. Even if you have ten huge bodybuilder types with you, there will always be more Southerners, and you do NOT want them to hate you.

15. Don't ever ask an elderly Southern man for directions. They will be full of landmarks like "the old bendy tree" or "Jake's Diner on Elm Street," none of which exist anymore.

16. Don't ever ask an elderly Southern woman for recipes. They will all say something like "pour a little milk in" and "put sugar in it till it looks right." When you ask them about it they will get huffy and say "Well honey I don't measure! Never had to!"

17. Don't ever ask an elderly Southern person why they voted Bush. Just accept that their reasoning won't make any sense.

And now you know.

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