We just have creative methods for not reveling the entire truth. This can be a real challenge at times. Southern women are trained to maintain our manners at social events and occasions.
I remember when I was young and my parents would go to lots of parties and get togethers. In true Southern fashion, my mother was rather picky about her friends. I mean her real friends, not people that you just wave to from the driveway.
That is not a slight to my mom, she was just selective about the people she spent her free time with when she had any. My mom was always working one to two jobs when I was young, so free time was valuable.
My mom always said that life was too short to spend it with people that you do not like. This may explain why we spent very little time with our relatives.
My mom could have won numerous Academy Awards for her performances at many of these social gatherings. Some people would approach my mom with some stupid, drivel of a conversation starter and my mom would never break character.
She would smile and say “um, interesting” or “really?” This was especially difficult when the “some person” is known to be a complete dip shit. This makes for a fun ride home, though! And yes, we talked dirt about you after the party! Mom and dad would rehash their conversations after parties and I got to hear all the smut about other adults!
I recall a particular event that had a lot of people attending. There were lots of people that I did not know. Believe it or not, I was very shy as a kid. This translated into me following my mom around the party like a puppy to attempt to avoid having to talk to anyone. I had a crush on one of dad’s friends and every time he spoke to me, I would cry!
I used to try to hide under tables, but mom would always find me and make me come out. That sucked.
Anyway, at this particular party, some dorky woman, with too much make up on and huge, unsecured boobs, came sauntering over to my mom. I thought, who is this clown who looks like a football, line backer while wearing Barbie sized clothing?
She had so much makeup on that she looked like she used a spacaling knife to apply it to her face. She was one of those people that when you took off all of her makeup, you would not recognize her.
“Someone” greeted mom with some sugary speech about “it’s so good to see you.” My mom smiled and participated in a giggly hug. Mom introduced me, but I could not speak as the “shy monster” had stolen my voice! This happened a lot when I was younger.
Mom and “someone” go onto have a 10 minutes conversation with all the pleasantries expected at a party from a Southern woman. How is your family? Do you have any vacations coming up? How old are your kids now? Snooze!
True to form, I got bored and stopped paying attention. The conversation ends with more giggly hugs and promises to get together for lunch. This lunch invitation may or may not be sincere, by either parties!
As soon as “someone” was out of ear shot, I hear mom take a few deep breaths, breaking character! I asked her about her friend, “someone”. She looked and me puzzled. She said, “oh, her. She is not a friend, she is a bitch!”
I was thoroughly confused. First, I was not clear on what the word “bitch” meant, but I knew it did not mean friend. By the look on my mom’s face confirmed my suspicions.
Second, why were they hugging and laughing together for so long? Couldn’t they just way across the party like we do in the driveway at home? Adults were so confusing when I was a kid!
Mom went onto explain that she had been trying to avoid “someone”, but “someone” had snuck up on her. She said she did not want to cause a scene and that “someone” was not aware that mom did not like her. What?
Mom said “someone” had pissed her off at another time and mom did not want to discuss it with her. Mom said I would understand when I got older. This was the lame excuse many parents use with they cannot explain something to a kid.
She said “someone” would not understand why mom was pissed, even if mom told her why she was pissed. The lesson, she said, was that there are times when you are mad at a person that you should “kill them with kindness.” What the hell does that mean? Kill?
I thought deeply about this for the rest of the party.
On the way home, we discussed this issue further.
Mom explained that there are times when people make you mad. She went on to say that responding when you are mad can make you say things you do not really mean or will regret saying them at all. (She was still in psychology classes at the time.)
Mom quoted some psychology guru theory that once you say something to someone, it has been said and you cannot “take it back.” No matter how many times you say you are sorry or say you did not mean it does not matter. Sometimes words can cut deeper than a knife. I have seen this behavior end many relationships.
Friendships, marriages and long-term relationships are sometimes ended over intentionally or even unintentionally hurtful and/or mean things that are said in anger.
Mom always said that sometimes saying you are sorry was not enough. I believe that to this day.
This lesson stuck with me. I am not saying that I did not “shoot a number of arrows” to verbally hurt someone else. I soon learned that the instant gratification I felt was short lived. I always regretted it later. Sometimes it could end a friendship.
I would see the pain and sometimes devastation on the faces of the people I was ugly too. I was disappointed with myself at those times. I remembered mom saying sometimes saying your sorry was not enough. I still tried though. And, sometimes me saying I was ever so sorry was not enough.
Subsequently, I have learned the need for grace and thoughtfulness that my mother wanted me to learn.
There is an eloquence and heart about Southern women that cannot be defined. It will surprise you at the strangest times.
Just don’t try to load my dishwasher or clean any of my cast iron cookware. Them is grounds for a fight’n.
What is the old Plato/Philo saying? “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
In my opinion, kindness trumps being right every time! Being “right” only makes you correct. Being kind makes you human. Which is more important to you?