1. First and foremost. Never load another women’s dishwasher in the South. I mean never. If you do it anyway, we will graciously thank you. It is appropriate to stack dishes in the sink and on the counters. I realize you are trying to help, but this ain’t it. If you try to load my dishwasher, I can tell you how this is going to go down. My brain will gasp in sheer, epic horror that you actually loaded my dishwasher after I have already told you not to do it. I will wait until you leave. Then, while mentally cussing your name to the moon, I will unload the dishwasher mess you made, then re-load it “properly” to my standards. Loading our dishwasher is not helpful and can cause someone to break out in hives at the thought.
2. Do not scrub cast iron pans! Some people do not use cast iron. Those that do know that it can take years to “season” a pan. I had someone tell me that a friend was trying to help clean up after a cookout and scrubbed her cast iron skillet to a shine. My friend was so pissed because it took her three years of cooking with the pan to get it seasoned. Just don’t mess with cast iron if you do not know what you are doing.
3. We can carry most of what we need in our bra. This may include a small gun. When I was younger, I used to go out without a purse when parting. I could carry my money, my identification, lipstick and compact all in my bra. My mother continues to put her cell phone in her bra so she won’t lose it. I still carry Chapstick in my bra.
4. “Bless your heart” is not always used in a caring or kind manner. Most times, it is said to show sympathy or understanding of what a person is saying or doing. But sometimes it is said because we have no idea of how to respond to whatever you just said or did. It keeps us from asking ridiculous questions of you to explain your bizarre or stupid behaviors.
5. When we call you “darlin’, precious, sugar, honey or sweetie”, is because we have forgotten your real name. Or, we do not care to recall your real name as it is just easier to use one of these words. It also may make you think you are special, when in fact, sometimes you are not. It can be hard to tell which is true.
6. Smiling at you while you are talking does not mean we understand or agree with what you are saying. We also may not even care, but we keep smiling. Mostly, we are just being polite and just waiting for you to shut up.
7. Do not ever ask, “do you remember me?”, unless you are prepared for the answer “no”. This question is rude and serves no purpose. This is one occasion when manners can be put aside, truth be told. If I remembered who you are, I would have said it, so help me out and just say, ‘Hi, I’m —.” (This is expanded in a previous discussion)
8. When we gently pat you on the arm or the shoulder, we are trying to get you to shut up. It is just our gracious way to help you stop talking without intentionally embarrassing you. More than likely what you are saying is inappropriate or just plain dumb. We are attempting to save you from yourself. If the “pat” on your arm gets harder, then you really need to stop talking.
9. Sometimes our perceived hospitality far out weighs our patience. This can occur when someone “drops over” for an unannounced visit. Southerners know to “call ahead” before dropping in for a visit. This does not mean to call when you are in route to our home or already in the driveway. If someone comes to my house unannounced, I will not answer the door. This is not a personal affront, but simple manners that allows me time to brush my teeth and put on a bra before you come over. If someone says, “stop over anytime”, this also means a call is in order before doing so. Just know the answer may sometimes be no.
10. We do not air our “dirty laundry” in strange company. We may gossip with each other, but rarely “dish” on our own Southern people in front of strangers. This does not apply at family gatherings, as we have to get the “dirt” on each other when it is only family around.
11.” White lies” are allowed if it spares the recipient a major confrontation or may greatly hurt someone’s feelings. For example, “why yes, that looks lovely on you, though you may want to wear a sweater with it”, “no, those jeans do not make you look fat, it is just the new fashion”, “no, that pie was great, just a little under done, but I could hardly tell”, “of course that outfit is not too small, the tag probably has the wrong size”, or “bless your hard, you tried.” In our heads, we are wondering if you actually own a full-length mirror and looked at yourself before you left the house. Hell, do you own a mirror at all? Did you think that maybe a size or two larger would be more attractive? Later, when we get home, we just pray for you. I’m just sayin’. (This is also another discussion.)
12. Southern women are strong! Never let that sweet smile and the batting eyelashes fool you. We are usually doing two to three things at once from the time that we awake and until the time we go to bed. Our mind is constantly thinking about all the things we need to accomplish that day, even while having a conversation with another person. It is just a fact. Ask a Southern woman what is going on in her “pretty little” head at any given time and you will find it involves various unrelated activities and chores that need to be done. Pretty impressive, if you were asking me.
13. Southern woman are tired of hearing about our “accent”. Did it ever occur to you that it might be its you “that talks funny”? Accents are not directly related to intelligence, by the way. Sometimes, I will “lay it on thick” with my “accent” just to watch your reaction. “It tickles me pink!” (Also Southern) My favorite part is the facial expressions of the people interacting with me while they seem to be “deciphering” what I am saying. This makes me happier than a pig in slop! Later, we joke to our Southern friends about your discomfort and squirmy behaviors as you talk with us. Just to be clear, we do this on purpose, at your expense, then laugh our butts off when we compare notes. My absolute favorite part of these conversations occurs when people correct my language or grammar. I was doing it on purpose, dork. Sorry, but this is true. (I said Southerners were smart, hard working and take care of one another. I did NOT say that we did not enjoy humor at someone else’s expense from time to time.)
Just a side note, I do not behave this way to kind and gracious people. This naughty behavior is reserved for people that have either insulted me more than once or have just generally pissed me off at the wrong time. Welcome to the South and YeeeHAAAA.
14. Southern women have LONG memories! This can be both good and bad. We remember small kindnesses and thoughtfulness. We remember when people “helped us out” during times of need or shortage. However, we also remember the times we were lied too or were the “fodder” for gossip.
Southerners have a lot of pride in our history and in our work ethic. We may not have done everything right, but we made our way in this country.
After all, we built Stone Mountain, right? That took a while and a lot of hard work. (If you believe this, then I have a pyramid scheme, I mean business proposal, that you may be interested in.)
So, enjoy your time spent in the South. This is where the iced tea is always sweet, porches are a meeting place, Y’all is a proper noun and folks are welcome, as long as you call first. Bless your heart.