1. You know the proper way to set a table.
You never begin eating until everyone is seated and someone has said “Grace.” You never put your elbows on the table, talk with your mouth full, or reach over someone to grab something. You know that everything must be passed to the right, and before getting up from the table you must excuse yourself. Once given permission to leave, you always clear your own plate, and anyone else’s who has finished.
2. As a youngin’, you were disappointed that on Saturday the big screen TV was reserved for football all day.
As an adolescent, however, you were stoked during college football games. It was one of the few days of the year that you could get belligerently wasted in public, underage, with your grandparents, shouting obscenities at the top of your lungs, with no consequences. Also, there were guaranteed to be Chik-fil-a party platters and Piggly Wiggly boiled peanuts somewhere in the vicinity.
3. Your parents woke you up in the morning with a song or a phrase like “rise and shine,” or “up and Adam, Adam ant.”
Upon waking up you were expected to make your bed, hospital corners and all. Failure to do so could result in a spanking – yes, a real spanking. On the other hand, good behavior was often rewarded with a “coke,” which could refer to any soft drink.
4. You were taught proper manners at a very young age.
Your response to any command or question was a yes ma’am/ no ma’am, yes sir / no sir. You always said “the magic words” please and thank you, and in some occasions even had to hand write thank you letters. You may have been sent to an etiquette or “cotillion” class, where you learned how to do the foxtrot, shag, and how to behave like a proper lady or gentlemen.
5. When you heard your mother’s high-pitched whistle from down the street, you came running.
If you choose to ignore this summons, it was only a matter of time before your friends’ mother would relay the message, since all Southern moms seemed to be in constant communication with each other. You’ve been told the dreaded words “I’m tellin’ your Mama!” More than once…
6. You had a list of chores you had to complete after school before you were free to roam the neighborhood with your friends.
At which point you would spend the rest of the daylight hours barefoot and outside. Between you and your friends you probably had lots of golf courses, woods, lakes, and streams to explore. You would build forts, climb trees, catch tadpoles, frogs, and fireflies. You would bring them home with you and try to keep them as pets – although they always seemed to disappear.
7. You had a special section of your closet reserved for your “Sunday clothes.”
These were off limits unless you were going to church, or some other formal holiday or event was occurring. While you disliked going to church, you always looked forward to the Sunday feast that followed. This spread most likely included multiple casseroles, fried okra or collard greens, mac-n-cheese, rice -n- gravy, and of course some type of meat that was probably supplied by one of your family members who went hunting the week before.
8. You grew up thinking you had a lot more “uncles, aunts, and cousins,” than you actually do.
Southern parents love to refer to their best friends as our aunts and uncles. Eventually, you realize these people aren’t actually part of your extended family. However, you are constantly meeting people who ARE your extended family, and you realize that some of the branches in your family tree may have crossed over each other more than once.
9. Good behavior or good grades was rewarded with a trip to the State or County Fair.
This was the most thrilling event of the year until you discovered Carowinds. You looked forward to riding the upside down rollercoaster. You were allowed to eat corn dogs on a stick until your stomach ached, and then probably threw them up after the tea cup ride. After squandering an excessive amount of money on those rip-off carnival games, you managed to win an oversized stuffed giraffe that your dad had to carry around for the rest of the night. At least it made it easier to find him at the rocket after you get lost in the house of mirrors.
10. You definitely talk with a southern twang or “drawl.”
It may or may not be as intense as your parents or grandparents. You talk slow, and you make short words longer, and long words shorter. For example, you convert one syllable words like “there,” into 2 syllable words, like “they-er.” You never pronounce the “g” in the -ing, looking = lookin, trying = tryin. When you can’t think of the right word, you refer to things as a “thingamajig,” or a “whatchamacallit.” You say things like “lawd!” and “I reckon so.”
11. There were entire sets of china, and even whole rooms in the house, that were never used except on holidays.
Although you always ate family meals at the kitchen table, the dining room was always in view. In this room was a much bigger, fancier table, and a large glass case that contained all types of dishes, cups, silver, serving utensils, and strange shaped things that seemed to serve no purpose at all. They have been in your family for generations and you only use them a couple times a year on holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving.
12. Your mother would rearrange the furniture and redo the upholstery throughout the house every few years.
Some days you would arrive home from school and do a double take as you notice subtle changes have taken place — new curtains, a different layout of the room, a different pattern on the couch, a different rug, new flowers or plants in the room. Southern women do like to mix it up every now and then.
13. Dads had guns and moms got a piano.
Boys, you learned how to shoot and clean a gun at a very young age, and would accompany your dad on hunting trips. You had a freezer in the garage stocked with dozens of pounds of meat, and you had a dehydrator for making homemade jerky. Girls, you would have to spend hours sitting with your mother or grandmother learning to play the piano.
14. Every bathroom in your house had a bowl of potpourri and a monogrammed hand towel.
Each bathroom had a different theme, color, and potpourri scent. There was probably a little basket behind the toilet with magazines like Southern Living, and books like Little Black Sambo, or Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.