1. “Does your uncle make moonshine in his bathtub?”
Why do people always assume that we make moonshine in bathtubs? We’ve got big, beautiful, copper stills for that.
2. “Wait, you don’t own a jacked up truck?”
Visit Tennessee and you’ll probably see hundreds of jacked up 4x4s with rebel or American flags painted on them. Driving next to them will be the thousands of people that actually like getting more than 15 miles per gallon.
3. “Is it okay if my black friend comes with us?”
It’s 2016, and this is a question I still get asked. It’s one of the worst and most over-exaggerated stereotypes about Tennessee. We’re not all racist. We’re not all bigots. Just because Tennessee produces a few idiots, like that guy from Polk County who’s running for congress on the “Make America White Again” platform, does not mean we all cling to those old ideologies.
4. “Were you bottle fed whiskey as a kid?”
My dad did use whiskey as a way to get me to calm down when I was a baby. That being said, we’re proud of our whiskey, but we don’t all drink it. I know several Tennesseans that have a healthy respect for our state’s liquor of choice and choose to avoid it.
5. “Aren’t you guys all supposed to be sweeter than pecan pie?”
I’ve met several people that seem to think that Tennesseans are the epitome of Southern hospitality, and while I can tell you that I know a lot people who would give you the shirt of their back if you’re in need, I also know an equal number of people who are just assholes.
6. “You’re a lot smarter than I expected.”
Sorry about that. I forgot that we’re all supposed to be dumber than a sack of broken bricks and about half as useful. Let me just put these books down, and I’ll get back to milking the cows.
Poet Nikki Giovanni, who is often cited as the poet of the black revolution; economist and Nobel Prize Recipient, James M. Buchanan; inventor and computer engineer, Mark Den; and hundreds of other musicians, writers, and artists all call Tennessee their home.
7. “Don’t you guys eat, drink, and worship football?”
I can’t deny that there isn’t a little bit of truth to this one. Come football season, you’ll see thousands of people walking the streets covered from head to toe in orange, University of Tennessee apparel, and on Friday nights, the population of most smaller towns can be found at their local high school football game.
8. “How many bibles do you own?”
Fun fact: 20% of us identify as something other than Christian, and 14% of us even identify as nonreligious. Just because most of us spent every Sunday morning singing hymns at our local church, doesn’t mean we stay that way for the rest of our lives.
9. “Did you run around barefoot in your dirt yard when you were little?”
Only part of the state has dirt yards, the rest of us have grass. And, yes, maybe I did run around barefoot because who wants to wear shoes when you can feel the grass and Earth squish between your toes? However, going shoeless was a choice for most of us, because being from Tennessee does not mean you are “dirt poor”.
10. “Can you wrangle cattle, rustle pigs, and kill a bear with your bare hands?”
Cattle wrangling is more of a Southwest thing, but we can rustle some pigs every now and then. Wild boar are a big nuisance in east Tennessee, and boar hunting has become a very popular pastime. As far as the whole killing a bear thing, we aren’t all Davy Crockett.
11. “Are you voting for Donald Trump?”
Memphis is almost as liberal as San Diego. There is such a thing as a liberal Southerner. We are a rare breed, and we spend most of our time feeling like a little blue dot floating in a sea of red, but I promise you we do exist.
12. “How can you not like country music? You’re from Tennessee!”
We might be the country music capital of the world, but that doesn’t mean we go around blasting Kenny Chesney and Rodney Atkins. In fact, Tennessee played a huge part in the development of Rock N’ Roll and Blues music. You’re just as likely to hear the car next to you cranking out some Kings of Leon, Jack White, BB King, or Muddy Waters.
13. “Doesn’t everyone carry a gun?”
For a Southern state, we’re actually pretty open-minded on the whole gun control issue. You’ll find an equal number of people who carry guns regularly and people who are against the idea of carrying all together. For the most part, we don’t care what you do with your guns, as long as you’re doing it in a safe manner.
14. “How many cousins have you kissed?”
We’re not all incestuous, backwoods hicks who would rather make-out with our cousins than drive to the next county over and pick someone up. And to answer your question, one. And it was an accident.
15. “Are barbeque and biscuits really that important to you?”
Yes. Yes, they are.