After 12 years of marriage he has learned me so well and doesn't have the "dazed and confused expression" quite as often. He just looks at me knowingly and shakes his head at the poor soul who has blundered into a social faux pas that they weren't even aware existed. I remember coming home from the grocery store, when we were first married, fuming angry (which means I was bawling my eyes out) because a person I hardly knew had the audacity to ask me a very personal question...in public no less! (Lesson 1) When a southern woman cries... it can mean many things but often times it is to vent anger and frustration...it's the eyes or the mouth and most often we have been taught crying is more acceptable than hollering!)
Seth had no earthly idea why I was crying...he couldn't fathom why I thought what they said or asked was personal and third he was confused as to why in the world I didn't just tell them to mind their own business.
(Lesson 2) We don't talk talk personal things or in general "air our dirty laundry") You may think you know personal things about a southern girl's life but I can guarantee you ...unless you are in her inner circle, you haven't begun to scratch the "surface of knowing" There are things west of the Mississippi and north of the Mason/Dixon line which are acceptable topics of conversation between complete strangers or even "polite company" which would not be comfortable for someone from the south!
When you have angered a southern woman or hurt someone we love...look out. Our memories long...and usually genetic.(Lesson 3) You mess with a southern girl...and you've signed yourself up for being the ire of her entire clan (even those you have never met!) You may not like Aunt Etna but she is family and if "Joe" down at the Piggly Wiggly in the meat department insulted her, you can sure bet the entire family will take their business elsewhere even if they have all shopped at the Piggly Wiggly for years. There are people here my clan back in the south knows all about and would ask me to point them out should they ever make a visit to Montana. They carry my stories with them there.
(Lesson 4) You may never know you have insulted a southern girl. We have all sorts of ways to express our displeasure. My friends here in the west say I have the nicest way of dressing someone down and wish they could learn how to "put someone in their place" like I do. I'm still not sure it is a good thing that it takes many people 20 or 30 minutes to realize they have been chewed out but many will say it was the "politest a** chewing" they ever had.
(Lesson 5) This is not to say a southern girl wont lose her temper. There are varying stages of this. Stage one usually involves the term "bless your or their heart" I want to clarify...There are two types of southern "bless your hearts" One signifies you are thinking of another with kindness and affection...the other means you really wish they would burn in hell or can kiss your "lily white behind" but that is just something you won't voice out loud....they can be hard to distinguish between ...as the differences are sometimes subtle. ;)
Stage two usually involves tears of frustration and large words which require many people to run to their dictionary. I can remember Seth and my first argument and his dazed expression. Through clenched teeth I told him he was "the most exasperating man I had ever met and it would behoove him to mind his manners with me if he ever expected to experience you know what ever again ... as his audacity was a serious affront to my sensibilities" As I walked away I heard him say "I don't even know what some of those words mean.
(Stage 3) May involve raising the voice, possible cursing (with intermittent apologies for cursing), possible finger shaking and a lecture. Sometimes if she has had time to really examine her ire she will have a list, or letter she has penned so as to make her thoughts clear. If her anger has bubbled or exploded to the surface with out much warning for her she may be so uncomfortable with the feelings it explodes into a full blown "tizzy" ...with possible reciting of everything you and your ancestors or sex have done since the dawn of man. Often times this is due to not voicing her feelings earlier on or her subtle warnings and attempts at dealing with issues have been missed, over looked, or ignored. IF she has reached this point, you can bet she will be like a bulldog with a bone...it is in your best interest to come to a healthy compromise or give in...because no one will get a moments rest until you do.
(Lesson 6) Southern girls know that a mint julep and a girls night of eating and laughing, and making fun of those who have hurt you, cure all sorts of what ails those we love. If you are blessed to have a southern girl as your friend, rest assured you will never go hungry, live without hugs, kind words, or someone who will fiercely defend you to the grave. Southern women are loyal to a fault. To our friends, community and family. If you have betrayed her trust, it is awfully hard if not impossible to reclaim. Learning to forgive and let go, is a huge lesson I have had to learn.
(Lesson 7) We still appreciate being "treated like a lady" I don't mind having the door opened for me...and actual expect it. I prefer my husband to drive when we are together, though I am perfectly capable. I miss the days of men standing up when I excuse myself from the table. I love being the one to get the dip from the kitchen, as long as he is willing to take out the garbage! I don't find it a front to my feminist sensibilities. I treat the men in my life respectfully and with love and care as well. I have seen women out here in Montana act as if a man opening the door is an affront to their abilities. Nonsense to this southern girl!
Make no mistake though, we are strong. While we present a softer side of life to the world, we have back bones of steel. If we see something wrong in the world around us, some injustice, we will not usually give up or stay silent if it has come into our radar. We are very good at rallying support when needed. It can sometimes be confusing for those around us to know which side of the coin they will be getting when dealing with us.
(Lesson 8) There are lots of things we will not talk about even with our spouses. Now even writing these next sentences make me cringe but I assume most of my audience is women, so Ill be a little more frank. I can remember asking Seth, when we were first married, to go pick me up some feminine hygiene products at the store. He looked utterly confused...repeating the phrase over and over. Exasperated I finally whispered "You know....tampons" We were the only two people in the room and he couldn't figure out why I was whispering...and I couldn't figure out when he returned why he didn't by five other un-needed items to cover up the fact I sent him on that errand to the store. There are often times I still blush when he flirts, become mortified when he discusses things which husband and wives discuss, and whisper when there is no one else around even tough I could and should say it out loud. We are always tasteful...even when no one is looking ;)
(Lesson 9) We don't know a stranger. We can strike up a conversation with anyone in the grocery line. My husband always is shocked at what people talk to me about. He may have known someone for years, and just standing there in line I have discovered things about them he never knew. A little kindness and conversation go a long way. Don't ever under estimate our charm. Seth says there are very few things he can say no to when I get all soft and southern... lol We also know when not to abuse that charm ;)
(Lesson 10) Even as adults we most likely will still use Yes M'am and sir, Mr. and Mrs, and other forms of polite titles when we are addressing others. Particularly if we were raised to value and respect authority figures. I remember people thinking I was being sarcastic and rude when I used these early on here in this area. I had to assure them I wasn't and sadly let go of these niceties.
( Lesson 11) We use sugar, honey, sweetie, sweetheart, love, and other forms of endearment even with people we don't know well. It does not mean we want in your pants or in your husband or boyfriend's pants. It isn't meant to be a serious expression of affection, just a common form of address like "hey you"
(Lesson 12) We are adaptable. I have learned and changed so much the last 12 years living in Montana. Sometimes I wear sweat pants to the store (gasp) and go to town with out my face (makeup) on. I rarely wear hose and only shave when I have to in the winter time. I more easily voice my opinion and displeasure and have learned the value in saying exactly what I mean. I can change a tire, drive a tractor, start a fire, shoot a gun, repair a fence, and hold my own in this tough beautiful place.
(Lesson 13) You can take a girl out of the south...but you can't take the south out of the girl. The south will always be home to me. I live here...I reside in this area...I am not from here and this is not my home. Every heart beat is a reflection of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains I explored, the honey suckled air I breathed in , the Georgia peaches I picked, the lazy summer homemade ice cream days of my childhood. Nothing compares to her and I will spend every moment of my life missing it and wanting to return. While I may choose to light my hearth here...my heart will always