14 Rites of Passage for Every Kid Who Grew Up in the South
1. Destroying your sled on the bone-dry driveway because you’d be damned not to do some sledding on your one snow day of the year.
It didn’t matter if there was a dusting that was already gone by 9am or if there was a whomping 2-inches on the ground, if your school called the day off, you got your ass in a sled — or at least made a “snowman” resembling more of a dirty ball of slush that had just had a stroke.
2. Suffering through vocal alarm clocks of your mom’s painfully loud renditions of “Rise and Shine” every weekday morning.
Because nothing said “get your ass up and on that schoolbus” like clapping about Noah, elephants, kangaroosies, and floody-floodies for eight-and-a-half freakin’ minutes.
3. Crafting a different excuse every year as to why you’re not going to Bonnaroo.
What you’d say: “I’m going to my cousin’s beach house in Florida. His parents aren’t going and he’s 21, so we’re getting tons of booze and gonna get really high the whole time.”
What you’d mean: “That week is church camp.”
4. Eating a whole ziploc bag of boiled peanuts to yourself while smoldering in 98-degree humidity.
Unless it was over 100-degrees, there was never a time when the “caviar of the South” bought from a roadside farmer wasn’t the equivalent of juicy, cajun crack. But when the temperature rose over 100-degrees? That was when you tossed those babies in a cold, glass bottle of Coke and reveled in some sweet and salty euphoria.
5. Getting threatened with manners school by your dad.
Not that your dad even knew of any “manner schools,” but you were smart enough not to risk it by mouthing off with a casual “yeah” to anyone ten years your elder.
6. Learning to fix something.
“I’m fixin’ to turn this car around if you two can’t get along.”
“I’m fixin’ to get supper started, so you better wash up.”
“Did you just get smart with me? I swear, you’re fixin’ to get a whoopin.’”
7. Making your own night-light with a mason jar of lightning bugs.
Because nothing felt more like summer in the South than being barefoot and surrounded by cicadas chirping while catching lightning bugs on a thick and humid night.
8. Mastering the art of thank-you note writing.
It didn’t matter if you got a new PlayStation or a recycled birthday card from your Aunt Ethel who never got your name right, thank-you notes were — and still are — a non-negotiable requirement.
9. Catching a crawdad in the creak with your bare hands.
And dangling it in your siblings’ faces to freak them out.
10. Stopping at a gas station to feed pellets to the emus.
Which would later make you question where the camels and goats were while pumping gas elsewhere in the country.
11. Going to Dollywood on vacation.
Forget Disneyland. Your vacations were spent salivating to the dry-rubbed smells of the Barbecue & Bluegrass festival, busting your eardrums during the fireworks display at the Great American Summer, or stuffing yourself silly at Aunt Granny’s All-You-Care-To-Eat-Buffet. Sure, you never ran into Mickey Mouse outside Cinderella’s Castle, but you were guaranteed to be mesmerized by Dolly Parton’s — er — hair when you’d catch her outside the line for the Tennessee Tornado.
12. Getting your head thumped during the sermon.
Which you would pick any day of the week over your mom dropping the dreaded “I’m fixin’ to take you outside if you don’t start behaving” bomb.
13. Owning your title as the official “clicker bringer.”
Because when your dad was posted up on the sofa with his shoes off, who was the one he always asked to bring him the TV clicker? Yep, you. And you owned it.
14. Burning your ass on an aluminum slide in July.
But no matter how many times you felt the flames of hell searing the back of your legs as you sizzled your way down the aluminum slide and onto the woodchips of perpetual splinters, you powered on like the badass eight-year-old you were.