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16 Things Us Tennesseeans Are Born Knowing How to Do

Tennessee Student Work
by Shannon Dell Feb 4, 2016

1. Swigging moonshine like it doesn’t burn with the powers of hell.

Sure your eyes may swell with painful tears of regret and your throat may bleed like you just chugged a cup of flaming razor blades soaked in pepper spray, but dammit, if someone offers you a swig of some blueberry cobbler moonshine from a mason jar, you take it like a champ.

2. Stretching one syllable into two…or three.

Think the words time, like, and wine are all one syllable? Psh, yeah ri-ight.

3. Making new best friends at the grocery store.

And realizing that this new best friend is actually your Aunt Opella’s husband’s second cousin’s wife’s sister’s best-friend-from-college’s brother-in-law when they’re over for dinner the day after fate caused your buggies to bump in the produce aisle of the grocery store.

4. Ripping someone a new asshole while sounding sweet as molasses.

Because if you ever find yourself in Tennessee, just know that “Bless your heart” translates to “You’re a fucking moron” and “I’ll pray for you” really means “Screw off.”

5. Conserving silverware.

Because why dirty-up a perfectly clean fork when you can just stick your food on a stick?

6. Blending anything and everything with coarsely ground corn kernels boiled with milk.

Shrimp and grits, smoked gouda and grits, catfish and grits, berries and honey grits, pimento cheese and grits, grits and tabasco sauce, sugar and grits, butter and grits, sausage and grits, breakfast and grits, lunch and grits, supper and grits, snack and grits, grits and everything.

7. Eating slow-cooked barbecue the way it’s supposed to be eaten.

In other words, basted and doused in a medley of sauces and flavors like vinegar, pepper, tomato, mustard, Worcestershire, and tinged with ketchup. But the real Tennessean way of eating barbecue is keep it dry, rubbed in spices and herbs before being smoked to perfection. Slam a side of sloppy coleslaw on your plate, and congratulations — you now possess the palate of a Tennessean.

8. Showing respect to your elders, even if you have gray hair yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 16 or 60, if you’re talking to someone 20 years your elder, you say “yes ma’am” or “no sir.” And if you think you won’t be called out in public for responding with “yeah,” you’re sadly mistaken.

9. Waving at strangers.

Whether or not you know the jogger tripping over her dog’s leash or the old man sitting under a roadside vegetable stand with boiled peanut juice dribbling down his chin, it doesn’t matter. Wave anyway.

10. Possessing redneck radar.

In other words, if you turn down a road of Confederate flag-cluttered porches and dip can littered yards, it’s probably in your best interest to retreat back to society.

11. Concocting the perfect sugar to ice to tea ratio.

Add one gallon plastic pitcher of steaming Lipton tea to a cluster of ice cubes, a mound of sugar, and voila — you’ve got the recipe for some syrupy sweet house wine of the South.

12. Preparing for a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Because you never know when you’ll need those 64 cans of corn, green beans, carrots, vegetable soup, beef stew, beef and vegetable stew, chili, tomato soup, peas, asparagus, and potatoes for those catastrophic snow dustings.

13. Writing thank-you notes for everything.

Because if you think that same green bill will be falling out of your singing birthday card from Aunt Edith next year if she doesn’t get a thank-you note within a week, think again.

14. Turning starches into vegetables.

Corn? Vegetable. Cornbread? Vegetable. Mashed potatoes? Vegetable. Mac n’ cheese? Vegetable. Bread? Does it have onion in it? Then it’s a vegetable.

15. Knowing the difference between supper and dinner.

Dinner is the largest meal of the day while supper is the third. Don’t get it twisted when you’re invited for Sunday afternoon dinner to avoid company during a suppertime football game.

16. Knowing the difference between bourbon and whiskey.

C’mon y’all. Is this really still an issue?

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