I just have a lot to say.
January 31st, 2018 by

Well, I Come from Alabama

Several years ago, I let my subscription to Southern Living lapse. I thought superiorly, I just don’t read magazines anymore. I’ve been concerned about my own lapsing “Southern-ness” ever since.

I feel like the decline began when I started eating lunch at noontime and dinner in the evening (except on Sundays, of course). I’ll declare, there are just too many things about me that belie my Bible Belt beginnings. 

I don’t fry chicken. I tried a few times as a young woman, but I was far too impatient. I fry chicken fingers occasionally, but I buy them pre-breaded at Sam’s.

Chuck grew up in Memphis. I have been there 100 times since I met him in 1982, and I have never been to Graceland.

I have been to New York City, but I have never been to Savannah or Charleston or New Orleans.

I raised my children to eat boiled peanuts like they’re mother’s milk, but I have never boiled them myself. 

I deleted make a quilt and put up pickles from my bucket list.

I have never read Faulkner nor seen a Tennessee Williams play nor been to Monroeville for the springtime outdoor production of To Kill a Mockingbird.

None of my children has a double name.

I haven’t been fishin’ since Daddy died in 1978.

I don’t love a tomato sandwich. (See, I said tomato sandwich not ‘mater samich. That’s pure shameful.)

My children have never chewed sugar cane nor shelled a single pea.

I attend a church that is too large and fancy for dinner on the ground. We have churchwide luncheons.

I have been to the Grand Ole Opry only once, and it was for a show choir competition, for heaven’s sake.

I warm frozen biscuits, and I don’t make gravy.

I buy sweet tea at the grocery store. Not always, but enough to be ashamed of myself.

Bless my heart. I ain’t no better than a damn Yankee. I might as well plan for my children to be married on Iron Bowl weekend and prepare for my mansion to be in the North of Glory. Dadgummit! Is there anything of my heritage left in me? Have all those years of watching the Today show homogenized me? Who in tarnation am I, if I am not a daughter of Dixie? Surely I have some redeemable Southern traits. Surely my upbringing wasn’t all in vain. 

Well, by golly . . .

I have seen Rock City.

I taught myself to fry okra and cornbread, since Mama and Granny are dead; and my cornbread rivals theirs, if I do say so myself.

I cook a mean pot of butterbeans—not lima beans, and with a hambone—not Goya.  

I poured peanuts in my bottled Coke that I pulled from the machines at Daddy’s shop. 

Little Granny taught me gratefulness by muttering in sweltering heat, “I sure am glad I don’t have to pick cotton today.” She was mighty happy with a bowl of pot likker and a skillet of pone cornbread for supper.

I know what red dirt smells like.

I visited Helen Keller’s birthplace in Tuscumbia, Alabama.

I named a dog Magnolia.

Andy Griffith helped me raise my children.

My second cousin married Pat Conroy. Our granddaddies were brothers and best friends. Mine manufactured church pews. Hers farmed peanuts. 

I know that the sweetest sound on earth is a squeaking porch swing to a background chorus of crickets and bullfrogs, and the sweetest taste is a Chilton County peach.

I remember a country store down the road from both of my grandmothers’ houses with a slamming screen door and wide plank hardwood floors.

The muddy water of the Chattahoochee River is my Tara.

I agree that “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is the Greatest Country Music Song Ever Written.

I remember the excitement of passing through North Carolina on vacations and buying Orange Crush.

I buy Golden Flake potato chips, Bama jelly, and Sessions peanut oil.

I had great aunts named Effie Dell and Josie Bell.

One of the best date nights Chuck and I ever had was to a Willie Nelson concert at the Dothan Civic Center. I had the shingles and Chuck had the flu (there’s a country music song waiting to be written), but Willie sang “Seven Spanish Angels” and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and we plumb forgot.

I have a vague 5-year-old’s memory of viewing Daddy Byrd’s body at his house, but I don’t know who sat up with it.

I have never attended a barbecue, but I savor every bite–and lick my fingers. 

I married a guitar picker. He plays “Amazing Grace,” “Old Rugged Cross,” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” and it sounds like a back rub. I sure hope one of my girls marries a fiddle player.

I wave as I pass strangers, and I’ve been known to ask, “Who are your people?”

I recently downloaded Rick Bragg to my Nook—and renewed my Southern Living subscription.

Strap a banjo on my knee, Susannah; I might be ah’ight after all.


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