While at the bank recently, I got in a conversation with a man and the bank manager. Our talk turned to how other parts of the country are so vastly different than the south.
"I went to California a while back," the manager said. "Beautiful state, had such wonderful fresh produce. But not the first bit of it was fried."
We all muttered our disdain over that.
Vegetables that aren't fried? What had the world come to.
"I knew I was ‘home' when I saw the first Cracker Barrel," he continued. "I had to get some sweet tea and fried okra."
The conversation went on to how some people have misconceptions about us because we are Southerners.
"Well, it's a known fact we eat dirt and marry our cousins," I said facetiously. "Or at least that's what some folks think."
The two men nodded forlornly.
"They don't understand we are just different in good ways down here," the other man - a stranger but now a relative by Southern heritage - said.
"Sure, we talk slower. We have that drawl to our voices; some people think that means we're stupid as all get out but we're not."
We all nodded in agreement.
As dyed in the wool - or more appropriately, cotton - Southerners we all knew what it meant when folks from other parts of the world had misconceptions about us.
A lot of those misconceptions are a bunch of malarkey, but there's a few nuggets of truth nestled among them.
We are partial to fried foods; the thicker the batter the better.
Every self-respecting Southerner knows how to get a hold of a jar of moonshine when they've got the flu.
We do say ‘yes ma'am' and ‘no ma'am' - even to folks younger than us.
We pull over on the side of the road when we see a funeral procession.
Women drive pick-ups, preferably a King Ranch. If it's a dually, even better.
We do have a way of talking that a lot of folks don't understand. That doesn't mean we're dumb or slow; we're using Southern colloquiums for dramatic effect.
My dear friend Sara Jean has the most magnificent Southern accent I have ever heard - she even looks like a petite little auburn haired Scarlett O'Hara.
When someone haughtily announced they couldn't understand her, she told them it was probably because she was speaking grammatically correct English; and furthermore, if they couldn't understand that, they could hop on Delta and take their carpet-bagging tail back from whence they came.
"I'm not in the carpet business!" the person replied. "Well, if you don't know what a carpet-bagger is, maybe you need to go back to your eighth grade history class first," was her eloquent reply.
Southern fairy tales begin with "ya'll ain't gonna believe this" and end with "that's the God's truth."
And like Dixie Carter's character said in an episode of "Designing Women": "This is the South. We aren't ashamed of our crazy people. We don't ask do you have crazy people in your family; we ask what side are they on."
We all know we've got a few members in our families that are a little odd, but they make the holidays so much more entertaining.
And we can get a little proud and high-strung over people making fun of our heritage.
We've been known to tell people they are about to make us really, seriously upset.
As we ended our conversation, the man sitting next to me said: "You know, we're not that different than the people in the other parts of the world. It's just that life's just a whole lot sweeter here in the South."
And I could have sworn someone in the bank said "Amen."