20 Things People in Memphis Constantly Have to Explain to Out-of-Towners

Memphis Insider Guides
by Karla Redditte Apr 25, 2016

1. Don’t call it a jail. It’s 201.

Almost everyone and everything in Memphis has a nickname. So, why should the Shelby County Jail be any different? It has and always will be “201.” There’s just something about a place simply known by its street number that lets you know “ish” gets real inside its walls.

2. A barbecue sandwich just ain’t a sandwich without a slathering of slaw.

Coleslaw on the side? Please. A good Memphis barbecue sammich ain’t a real sammich without pulled pork nestled ever-so-lovingly under a generous helping of mustard coleslaw. That’s some good eating right there — especially when you add baked beans from Payne’s or nachos from Central BBQ. This is the stuff dreams are made of. The sheer deliciousness of it will make you want to get up and slap yo’ mama and her pastor! (But you’ll wind up at 201 if you do.)

3. And if you don’t like the way we do barbecue — be it a sandwich, rib, chicken, or whatever — keep it to yourself.

You wouldn’t go to someone’s house and then complain about the food being served, would you? Don’t bring that foolishness here. We don’t care if you prefer how Kansas City does barbecue. Or St. Louis. Even Austin. If Memphis-style ‘Q is not your first choice, cram a Gibson’s donut in your mouth and hush. (And if you don’t like Gibson’s donuts, mane…bless your heart. You are a lost cause and we will politely ask you to leave our fair city.)

4. By the way, your new name is “Mane.”

“Mane” is the nickname we all share. It’s used in happiness (“Aww, mane…”), sadness (“Aww, mane…”), greetings (“What’s up, mane?), and even in distress (“Mane, lemme tell you…”). It’s just our way, mane.

5. Go ‘head. Drink the tap water.

Seriously. Our water is considered to be among the tastiest and sweetest in the nation. So, why buy bottled water when the liquid flowing from the faucet is a cross between unicorn tears and heaven’s manna?

6. Justin Timberlake is from Memphis, but he’s not.

JT reps the M-town. Hard. And we rep JT, with his fine self. However, Justin is technically not from Memphis. At last check, Millington is not Memphis in no way, shape, or form. However, since his true hometown falls under the “Memphis Metropolitan Area” umbrella, we roll with him, and always will. He can’t “drink us away.”

7. Meanwhile, Al Green is not from Memphis, but since he has lived here for so long and is so awesome, we claim him, too.

Al Green has helped to put the city on the world’s musical radar, so to him, we’ll always say “let’s stay together.”

8. Many of us have never set foot inside Graceland, and don’t plan to do so.

Nothing against the famous Whitehaven mansion. Or Elvis. It’s just that we hear so much of his music and see so many of his movies, videos, and pictures on TV, we don’t need to see the house right away — which eventually turns into ever. Plus, we try to avoid driving through that particular area to keep from hitting the clueless tourists who dart across Elvis Presley Boulevard like blind hound dogs in search of the King’s treasures.

9. Speaking of Elvis, he’s dead.

Every so often, someone pops off at the mouth and says Elvis was spotted in one of Graceland’s second-floor windows. Look, if the King didn’t make an appearance when Lisa Marie married Michael Jackson, it is safe to say he is gone. May he rest in peace.

10. And while we’re on the subject, there is more than one “King” in the city.

Of course, Elvis is the most popular. Yet, when you mention “King” in conversation, you should specify whether you are speaking of Elvis, B.B., Jerry Lawler, or Willie Herenton. Mmmkay? Thanks.

11. Mud Island is not made of mud, nor is it an island.


12. “Get dope out your vein, and hope in your brain. You’ll never get nowhere smokin’ the pipe.”

If you were around in the ’90s, you can probably finish the rest of what Pastor James Salton said in one of the most thought-provoking, yet hilarious commercials to ever come out of the Bluff City. Decades later, the classic lines continue to pop up in conversations, as well as classic cackles from the depths of our souls.

13. Yes, our basketball team is named after an animal that can be found nowhere near Memphis or the state of Tennessee.

And we have no problem with that. But I tell you what — our team can (usually) tear up the opposing team on the court LIKE grizzlies. Head to the Grindhouse to see it for yourself. Believe!

14. We all don’t sound or look like “DJay” from the movie Hustle & Flow.

Now, some of us do put you in mind of the countrified, gold-toothed, processed-haired character many people have grown to love. Yet, the majority of us don’t.

15. However, we will pump our fist and gangsta walk to DJay’s breakout hit “Whoop That Trick.”

In fact, we like it so much that we use it to cheer on the Grizzlies. “Whoop that trick. Get ’em.” It’s our way of getting crunk.

16. Crunk. It’s the only way we know how to rock.

Crunk is not just a genre of hip hop. (Thanks Three 6 Mafia!) It is a way of life.

17. Bass Pro Shops is the bomb.

Don’t knock hanging out at this outdoor store inside the Pyramid until you try it. It’s an adventure, whether you’re an outdoorsman or not. The view from the top alone is worth a trip.

18. But it’s not the only “bomb” site in the city.

Memphis is more than just Graceland and Bass Pro. Check out Beale Street, the National Civil Rights Museum, the Peabody Hotel, Stax, the Pink Palace, Hattiloo Theatre, the Burkle Estate, Overton Square, and Elmwood Cemetery. This is just a sample of a large and awesome list of places to learn more of the city’s juicy past, present, and future.

19. If you live here, you will have at least one friend or family member who works for the Post Office, Fed Ex, or the airport.

These are all considered “good jobs with benefits.”

20. And forget life accomplishments. What high school did you attend?

The answer to this question tells us everything we need or want to know about you.

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