How to Live In the South, Tip #1

Contributed by Jodi Paige

I have a mixed marriage.  My husband, Ed, is from the North, and I was born and raised in the South.  Despite the fact that Ed has now lived here for 25 years, he still marvels/complains about how slow we Southerners can be.  I don’t mean intellectually…I mean the actual speed by which we get business done.  And if you’re not from the South, you may also be wondering, “What the heck is taking these folks so long?”

If you’re a good sleuth, there are really plenty of clues all around you.

Ever notice things down here like the high ceilings in our homes, fainting chairs in our antique stores, or how about the Pawley’s Island hammocks in our back yards?  These things aren’t just an assortment of aesthetic niceties for us, they’re actually a matter of life and death.  As I glance outside at my outdoor thermometer placed outside the glass of my wonderfully air-conditioned studio, I see it’s a typical day in June here in the South:  sunny and 97 degrees.  We won’t even get into heat index or humidity.  Now, imagine this kind of oppressive heat and sun, without the benefit of electricity.  No fans, no refrigerators, certainly no AC.  Consider the evolution of coping with these kinds of conditions from 200 years back to the present.  Here in the South, part of surviving this kind of heat is to learn to take things more slowly.  “Walk, Don’t Run,” as the Ventures advised.  “Don’t wanna get the heat prostration!” my Uncle Joe in Beaufort used to say as he fanned himself with an old church bulletin and drank iced tea right out of the pitcher.

You see, dear Northern immigrant friends:  moving slowly in the South isn’t meant to aggravate you, but to help the entire Southern species survive.  So the next time you’re standing in line to get a plate of BBQ, waiting on that oil change, or spending 5 minutes in the “speedy checkout” at the grocery—glaring at that slower-than-molasses clerk–just repeat the mantra that the rest of us indigenous Southerners have learned to say with all the Bible-belt kindness we can muster, “Bless their heart.”

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3 Comments to “How to Live In the South, Tip #1”

  1. I really love this blog post, Jodi. It reminds me of much of the writing my mother did. Great stuff! WE WANT MORE!

  2. That was great Jodi. It reminds me of sitting in the yard in the sheet metal yard chairs with my grandparents snapping beans and fanning myself with paper fans from the funeral home. I hated it back then, but what I wouldn’t do to have that time with my grandparents again. Our kids generation has lost something by replacing canning with Wii.

  3. This made me think of two things: 1) my dear sweet little grandma from Sturgis, Mississippi who, “bless her heart,” moved from Mississippi to Hartland, Maine to marry my grandfather and spent the rest of her days in cold, cold Maine. She would always say “bless their heart”; and 2) (as a northerner from Buffalo, New York) did you know that in 1902, the first modern electrical air conditioning unit was invented by Willis Haviland Carrier in Buffalo, New York. I have yet to figure out how 7-8 months of snow flurries inspired someone to invent a machine to make things even colder. But, if you want to thank anyone Buffalo is located at the westerner border of New York, just a few steps before you hit Canada,and is a great place to visit during the hot summer months.

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