Yesterday I slammed the South pretty badly with my comment about grammar being as foreign as grits in Paris, and since I do love the South and consider myself a forgiven Yankee (born and raised in New Jersey, but when God saved me, he made me a NEW creature. Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new. Can I get an Amen?), I thought I'd share some of why I will stay in the South.
1. Tea. Northerners just don't understand the concept of tea. When you go to a restaurant there and order tea, they bring you hot tea. If you order iced tea, they bring you cold tea with no sugar. Now come on, no sugar? That is just not human. And if you ask for sweet tea, they bring you cold tea and a few packets of sugar that will never dissolve.
2. Family. No matter where you are from or who you are friends with, you are family. You're never treated like an uncomfortable guest - you're family the first time you set foot in the door. You gather in the kitchen like family, help get dinner like family, and help with the dishes like family. Southerners are a very welcoming bunch.
3. They bless your heart. All the time. This is one of the Southern sayings I have adopted, and I've learned it can be said anytime, anywhere, in any circumstance. You can say anything you want about another person, as long as you preface it by saying bless her heart, as in "Bless her heart, she tried so hard but couldn't pass the test." I love that.
4. Friendliness. The first time I went to a store in the South (that I remember) was a 7-11 type of place in North Carolina. I paid for my purchases and turned to walk out and the cashier said, "Thank ya, honey! Come back!" I wheeled around thinking she wanted me to come back right now, but no, she meant come back soon. I've had them tell me to come back and bring my furniture. To illustrate the kind of service you might get in the North, I share this true story:
A few years ago Ben was travelling through New Jersey and stopped for coffee at a McDonald's. It was very late at night and there was no one else in the restaurant (that's using the term very loosely). He ordered a small coffee at the counter and as he was paying, this conversation took place:
Cashier: (looking down and mumbling) bag?
Ben: Excuse me?
Cashier (still looking down and still mumbling): bag?
Ben: (leaning in) Excuse me?
Cashier (looking up and shouting, enunciating each word): DO YOU WANT A BAG?
At this point Ben jumped back, snatched his coffee from the counter and said, "No thanks."
Now, lest my Northern sisters get miffed at my portrayal of Northern service, I will say that not all Yanks are crabby like that. But real, honest-to-goodness scientific studies have been done that prove the average Southern cashier is friendlier than her average Northern counterpart. Boy I am really getting myself in trouble here.
5. The Wave. Typically, people in the South will wave at you in thanks when you let them out in front of you in traffic. And typically, Northerners don't. Now I'm basing this on my experiences on New Jersey traffic circles and Tennessee roads in general. We had a guy wave so heartily at us in North Carolina one time we thought his hand would fly right off his wrist out the window. And driving down a road toward another car will almost always get you a wave, even from a person you've never met.
Now, to keep myself from getting in too much trouble, I will give a nod to the North for a few things, and they all have to do with food.
1. Pork Roll. Southerners have no idea what it is or how you eat it. And if you have never had a pork roll sandwich on a good hard roll (another Northern specialty), you haven't had breakfast. Save the grits for papering the walls, and get some pork roll. Slice it, fry it, put cheese on it and eat it on a hard roll. There's nothing better.
2. Rye Bread. Maybe it's because the Jewish population is so prevalent where I grew up, but Southerners just can't make a decent rye bread. If you ever want a real one, go to Lakewood, New Jersey and mingle with the rabbis. They'll point you in the direction of one of many good Jewish bakeries.
3. Pizza. Just so you know, Pizza Hut is not real pizza. Neither is Domino's. Or Papa John's. Real pizza has a thin, crisp crust, the sauce is not sweet, it has oregano on it, and needs no toppings. The pies are a good 20-24" in diameter and cut in 8 really big slices. Slices are to be eaten folded in half, lengthwise, and when folded as such, the point does NOT fall limply. Remember, it's a CRISP crust. Here's a hint: if the guy making it speaks English, it's not good pizza. His name must be Dominic or Luigi or Alfonso and you must communicate in one-word blips. He understands "large," "small," and maybe "pepperoni." "Here" and "to go" complete his English vocabulary. Someone else runs the register. For the best pizza you've ever had, go to Point Pleasant, New Jersey and ask someone where Vesuvio's is. Everyone knows. Just don't order tea.
Be thankful ~