Photo: Darren Baker/Shutterstock

11 Superpowers You Get Growing Up in Rural Tennessee

by Andrew Baker Jul 4, 2016

1. Being able to tell the difference between bourbon and whiskey by sight and smell alone.

Yes, there is a difference, and we’ll defend that stance until we die. Wanna test it? Hand us some Jim Beam when we’ve ordered Jack Daniels and see how quickly we push it back across the counter and ask for what we ordered.

2. The ability to ingest an obscene amount of buttery, grease-dripping food and still somehow make room for fresh blackberry cobbler, banana pudding, and deep-fried moonpies.

It doesn’t matter how much dry-rubbed barbecue, potato salad, smothered baby back ribs, or green bean casserole you eat, when Mammaw brings out that eight-layer blueberry slide cake, you loosen your belt and dig in.

3. Being able to curse like a sailor one minute, and then turn into a docile, respectable person the next.

Want to see a neat trick? Introduce us to someone who’s 15+ years older than us. We’ll instantly go from the trash talking, swear word slinging, goofball, to the epitome of respect and kindness. We’ll throw out a “yes, ma’am”, “no, sir”, and “thank you, ma’am” every few seconds to just drive home the point that we respect them and are there to help.

4. Being able to find random swimming holes by simply pointing at a road and saying, “Down there.”

Take us down any gravelly backroad and we’ll lead you to water. It’s one of the few ways we know to beat the heat during the summer. And rest assured, in those rare times that we can’t find a creek or pond, we’ll call our friend’s neighbor’s cousin’s daughter’s aunt Mary, and she’ll point us in the right direction.

5. The ability to know our rough geographical location at all times based solely on our position to the mountains.

One of our favorite pastimes as kids is running around in the woods until we get lost, then try to find our way home. It’d typically take a little bit, but the second we’d find a clearing, see the open sky and rolling mountains in the distance, we could normally tell where we were and navigate back to the house. We’re well known for pointing out landmarks in new locations and being able to navigate by them alone.

6. Being able to make friends in almost any situation.

Growing up in rural Tennessee means dealing with boredom by striking up conversations with people at any given opportunity. There’s an old saying around these parts: “send him to the store for one thing, but don’t expect him to come back for a few hours.”

7. We’ll only shed a small tear and allow the faintest grimace possible as we swig moonshine from a mason jar.

It might feel like Satan’s pissing down your throat, but you’ll never hear us complain about it. In fact, if you’re not paying attention, you’ll never notice as a bead of sweat streaks down the side of our face, the corners of our lips turn down, and our eyes start watering.

8. The ability to be sweeter than a honey suckle to our worst enemy, while subtly tearing them apart.

You can bet that if you’ve wronged us, you’re going to hear a lot of “well, how nice!”, “bless your heart”, and “I’ll pray for you.” We’re masters of kill-them-with-kindness, and we’ll probably bringing you a casserole after your uncle Dale passes away, despite loathing you on a fundamental level.

9. Being able to spin a story from anything. I mean absolutely anything.

We’re fed and raised on front porch stories, campfire legends, and our family’s personal tall tales, so it’s no wonder that we can turn even the most mundane events into spellbinding adventures. We’ve been known to embolden a few of the events for the sake of drama, but trust me, all our stories are at least 99% true.

10. Switching between southern hospitality and pure, unbridled rage in the blink of an eye.

We get it. There are two stereotypes for southerners: the sweet as pecan pie person who’ll do anything for you and the angry redneck yelling at his wife from his 4×4 in the Walmart parking lot. They’re terrible stereotypes, and while we don’t all embody them, we do have a bit of each in us. You’ll never know it, but our southern hospitality does have its limits, and when you finally push that kindness too far, it won’t be our kindness that you’ll remember us by.

11. Being able to show up at a friend or family member’s house as soon as a celebration starts or a tragedy happens.

I remember years ago, when my father died, we spent a little while at my grandma’s house before heading home. When we got home, we found that in the few hours we were gone, our friends and family member filled our house with enough casseroles and food to keep us fed for the next month. Weirdest part was our doors were locked. And that’s the way it always goes. Did someone graduate? Here’s some cookies. Birthday party coming up? Here’s an extra cake for the kids. Family member died? Here, take these 3 things of green bean casserole, 2 things of hash brown casserole, 5 crockpots of homemade chili, and 47 sandwiches.

Discover Matador