Happy Birthday to my step-father B! I hope your 60th birthday brings you continued health, happiness and great gifts.
His birthday today reminded me of something interesting that I recently, although quite accidentally read. First, some background. I live in the Mid-Atlantic region, but I am from the south and spent over 30 years there and most definitely consider myself a Southern Girl with some newly acquired Northern sensibilities. My step-father is from South Carolina and remains in the south, so he is just plain extra southern with an order of slow-cooked grits on the side. But, in that super charming, “Yes, Ma’am, No Ma’am, let me get the door for you” kind of way. That being said…. my parents were just here and after they left I discovered a magazine left behind. The name, “Garden & Gun” made me throw up in my mouth a little and I picked up the offending periodical with two fingers and directed it toward the recycle bin. More background here: We are gun-adverse in this house. No guns of any type. The kids will encounter them eventually, but it won’t be because I gave them access or my blessing. Instead we use terms like “caulk machine” or “glue machine” as in “Yes, honey, mommy lost her fingerprint in a terrible glue machine accident making your Batman cape.” So, I see “Garden & Gun” and I think “Hell & No”. But I pause at a story teaser called “Southern Women: The Writers, Artist, Musicians, and Designers Who Are Redefining the Southern Belle.” I’ll give it a look-see. I’m open-minded like that.
What I found was nothing short of profound, to me, anyway. Here’s just a sample:
Southern women are different. That is a fact….
To be born a Southern woman is to be made aware of your distinctiveness. And with it, the rules. The expectations. These vary some, but all follow the same basic template, which is, fundamentally, no matter what the circumstance, Southern women make the effort. Which is why even the girls in the trailer parks paint their nails. And why overstressed working moms still bake three dozen homemade cookies for the school fund-raiser. And why you will never see Reese Witherspoon wearing sweatpants. Or Oprah take a nap.
For my mother, being Southern means handwritten thank-you notes, using a rhino horn’s worth of salt in every recipe, and spending a minimum of twenty minutes a day in front of her makeup mirror so she can examine her beauty in “office,” “outdoor,” and “evening” illumination. It also means never leaving the house with wet hair. Because wet hair is low-rent. It shows you don’t care, and not caring is not something Southern women do, at least when it comes to our hair.
Wow. I could go on, but I’ll let you read the rest here on your own if you are so inclined. Thank you Allison Glock for breaking it down. I have been known to throw a silk magnolia behind one ear for a school meeting, or wear a little make-up to the gym. As she put it, “This is less about vanity than self-respect.” Not that you don’t respect yourself if you don’t own a wide-brimmed hat and always have a spare lipstick…this is just me I’m talking about.
So, I actually tucked Garden & Gun into my magazine bin as a reminder to do something every day that I didn’t plan to do. And I don’t mean go back to the store 3 times because I keep forgetting stuff, but something like read a book that’s not my style, or eat a food I’ve never heard of (nothing with eyeballs, of course), or maybe even contact someone I had written off. I have a few of those, and Yom Kippur is right around the corner. Looks like I better get started.
Happy Birthday again, big guy. We love you, even if you do subscribe to “Garden & …machine.”