1. Finding new family members in line at Kroger.
Meeting new friends at bars means always having someone to throw back shots of whiskey with. Grocery store friends made from buggy bumps and boxes of cornmeal? Consider them family.
2. Settling your drunken stomach at Waffle House.
How folks from other regions deal with their debauched nights without greasy “smothered and chunked” hashbrowns soaking up their impending hangover, us Southerners will never know.
3. Pitchers of Lipton tea sweetened with mounds of sugar and poured over ice served with the creak of a porch swing.
Because what’s a porch swing session without the South’s finest house wine?
4. Minding your diphthongs.
Seriously. Just try-ah to may-ake ah-all these words sow-und lah-ike wah-an syllable.
5. Gluing yourself to the Weather Channel from November to May.
Catastrophic snow dustings could hit at any moment. You have to know when to load up the buggy with canned veggies, bread, milk, and the fixings for Brunswick Stew for when the city shuts down over an inch of powder.
6. Church events.
Church events usually mean one thing and one thing only: there’s going to be food. But not just any food — church lady food. Religious or not, it’s near impossible to turn away a paper plate weighed down with a meat and three veggies cooked by the trembling and frail hands of church ladies who bless your heart while unknowingly cure your hangover during Sunday afternoon dinners with some mac n’ cheese and Sister Schubert’s yeast rolls.
7. Gym memberships.
Turns out, pimento cheese, syrupy sweet tea, buttermilk biscuits, and deep-fried Oreos aren’t great for the waist. Of course, neither is the fact that you can get Memphis’ dry-rubbed ‘cue FedEx shipped to you overnight.
If your pants are digging a little too deep in your gut, it’s time to hit the gym. Gotta make room for some more cheese grits one way or another.
Trust me — you’ll need all you can get when you wake up smelling like stale cigarettes and Jack to a pissed off momma in your doorway saying, “Well, honey, if you can go out Saturday night, then you can go to church Sunday morning.”
9. Saving your breath.
Y’all. Y’aunt. Fixin’. Why waste your breath when you can get your point across just fine, j’hear?
Whether it’s bottles in trees, a front porch mirror, or holding your breath while passing a cemetery, throwing salt over your shoulder after living in the South won’t seem so silly anymore. Especially when you start blaming your shitty year on the fact that you forgot your plate of black eyed peas and greens on New Years.
11. Cleaning your plate of veggies.
It doesn’t matter if the okra is deep-battered and fried to greasy hell and back, if it came from the ground, it’s a vegetable.
12. Garlic and citronella.
Have you seen the size of the mosquitos down here? It’s like you’ve walked onto the set of Starship Troopers with a sweaty forehead sticking to the wave of gnats following your every move.
Sorry, bugs, but welcome to the season of citronella and garlic. Consider yourselves warned.
13. Natural noise machines and nightlights.
Not all Southern creepy crawlers are bad, though. How else do you think we would get our beauty rest without lightning bugs for night lights and cicadas chirping us to sleep?
14. Frizz Ease.
For all those days when walking to the mailbox is the equivalent to wading through a thick and sludgy swamp.
15. Cajun boiled peanuts.
The caviar of the South? More like styrofoam cups of salty crack. Throw in a car ride through the countryside with the windows down, and you’ve got yourself a bonafide addiction.
16. Saying “yes ma’am” and “no sir.”
At least you better get addicted to this. Otherwise, expect back-of-the-head thumps for committing the most heinous crime against anyone who could have ever been your babysitter: saying “yeah.”
17. Chick-fil-A on Sundays…when it’s closed.
Chicken fried in peanut oil, topped with two pickle slices on a buttered bun, served with waffle fried dipped in Chick-fil-A sauce and a styrofoam cup of sweet iced tea? So simple. So delicious. So damn perfect.
Heads up for the inevitable Sunday mornings cravings, though. Those withdrawals are serious.