1. Knowing the difference between alcohol and Jack.
Offer us a leftover shot of Pumpkin Pie Pinnacle from your latest Pure Romance party, and we’ll probably smile politely and decline. But truth is, you’ve never been more harshly judged.
Now, get outta here with your dessert-flavored trash and pour us another round of Jack on the rocks, please.
2. Sitting in pews with a throbbing hangover from aforementioned Jack.
We acquired this ability by waking up in beer-stained bedsheets with stale cigarette hair to hip-cocked moms in curlers and floral-patterned dress standing in doorways saying, “If you can go out Saturday night then you can get up for church on Sunday morning.”
3. Not spitting in someone’s food when they ask us how much we love country music.
Wanna really get under the skin of a Tennessean? Automatically assume we all come home from a hard day’s work of huntin’ or muddin,’ kick off our camo cowboy boots on the screened-in porch, fatten our lips with some Skoal, and turn on twangy tunes about drinkin’ ‘till someone’s hot enough to take home from the honky tonk. Of course, not that there aren’t plenty of respectable folks who rock out to the genre — after all, Nashville does have the show that made country music famous. But to think we only listen to artists like Dolly Parton or Kenny Chesney is like assuming all Canadians are moose-riding Mounties who shower in maple syrup — it just doesn’t make any sense.
Have you ever wondered where the most influential musicians in Blues and early Rock N’ Roll history hail from? B.B. King? Tennessee. Aretha Franklin? Tennessee. Elvis Presley? Tennessee. Johnny Cash? Tennessee. Gregg Allman? Tennessee. Paramore? The Black Keys? Jack White’s Third Man Records? Yup — all from Tennessee.
4. Pretending to like the color orange.
Game Day makes the whole state look like someone vomited a sloshy sea of Orange Crush all over the place. Do we actually like sporting the citrusy color while perpetually missing Peyton Manning? Hell no. But dammit, we represent.
5. Being a hot chicken sadist.
No, please, by all means — keep telling us about how weak the Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin’ sauce is before trying some of Nashville’s hot chicken. It only makes the instant reddening of your entire body and tears streaming with dry-rubbed sweat that much sweeter. Of course, the less you act like a hotshot before ordering a basket of Shut the Cluck Up, the more likely we are to let you in on the secret pain-numbing power of pickles. And trust us — you’re going to want some pickles.
6. Killing you with kindness.
Screw us over? Prepared to be prayed for. Neighborhood rival? *waves in passing on the road.* Say something dumb? Well, bless your heart. Of course, when we finally do kill you from kindness, we’ll fill your family’s fridge with casserole dish upon casserole dish, maybe throwing in a seven-layer salad or two if we didn’t totally hate your guts.
7. Finding barbecue enlightenment.
Tender meat falling off the bone in a messy pile of dry rub? And who’s to say that barbecue has to be dripping in sauce to be goddamn delicious?
8. Making a feast appear out of absolutely nowhere.
One moment, you’ve got a bare table staring you and your rumbling stomach down. The next, there’s a smorgasbord of deep-fried chicken smothered in sawmill gravy, fried green tomatoes, sweet cornbread, green bean casserole, grits, collard greens, and at least two gallon pitchers of sweet iced tea. Most would assume the only logical explanation for such a feat would be raw Appalachian witchcraft, but we’ll let you in on a little secret — pecan pie. Lots and lots of pecan pie.
9. Downloading that online video 25 minutes before you.
Thanks to fibre optics, buffering is so 2012.
10. Being legitimately hip.
Tennessee gave birth to Record Store Day, which celebrates independently owned record stores around the nation, and is also home to the largest vinyl pressing plant in the United States. In other words, we thought vinyl was cool before it was an intellectual decoration for your bookshelf alongside a collection of novellas you’ve never read.
11. Keeping up with the mess of Tennessee liquor laws.
On Sundays, you can buy beer, but not wine or liquor, after 12 pm. All other days, you can buy any type of booze, but it has to be before 11 pm. Unless, of course, you’re in a county where the bars close earlier than 3 am. At that point, alcohol sales stop when the bars close for the night. And then there are a plethora of dry counties (like the one where Jack Daniels is distilled) scattered around the state, making it a common requirement to drive to the bordering county — or even state — for the purchase of alcohol.
12. Pardoning the ignorant.
On one hand, we’ve got outsiders mocking our accents and expressing their shock upon discovering our paved roads and proper dental care. On the other, we’ve got trucks flapping with Confederate flags in a black cloud of exhaust leaving behind cans of Bud Lite like a trail of breadcrumbs.
Having a degree in Gritting Your Teeth 101 is pretty much a requirement here.