As a pale, outspoken Yankee who looks awkward in cowboy boots, when I moved to the South, I immediately felt out of place. People of the South do crazy things that I’ve never seen before, like dress up for football games and utilize phrases such as “bless your heart.” I’ve learned to (somewhat) fit in, and if you want my secrets on how to pass as being a born ’n’ bred Southerner, read this article, and bless your heart indeed!
1. Take your uptightness down about 20 notches. People in the South aren’t concerned with making millions and selling their firstborns in order to do so. They would rather focus on the more important things in life, like religion, family and pigskins (see No. 8). Even their walking speeds are about half that of any Yank’s—not to mention their driving speeds.
2. Monogram everything that you, your mom, granny and dog own. In fact, just get your initials shaved into your dog’s fur.
3. If you have a car on campus, make sure it has at least one decal representing the college you support or the island you vacation on (e.g., HHI, PI, IOP, FB, etc.).
4. “Y’all” is an endearing term that can be used to refer to anywhere from two or more friends to 20,000 strangers. Use the word like it’s your job.
5. If one flake of snow is predicted to fall a month from now, stock up on canned food like it’s New Year’s Eve 1999, because Southern towns are not equipped for extreme weather. Even if there are clear blue skies on the day depicted for such destruction, classes will be canceled based on the probability of disaster.
6. Pretend you’re in a military academy and address anyone you perceive to be older than you as “sir” or “ma’am”. Once you know his or her first name, extra points for repeatedly referring to this person with the titles of address “Mr.” and “Ms.” Pronounce “Ms.” like Miz.
7. Southern attire may not always agree with the weather, but it also might be your only chance to blend in. Ladies, here are a few notes for you: Jack Rogers sandals and Lily Pulitzer dresses should be your best friends. Gents, just remember that it’s always T-shirt time; a polo shirt, Vineyard Vines khakis and Croakies will suffice. The more you look like it’s Easter Sunday, the better.
8. Make believe football is your new boyfriend/girlfriend, and you’re in the most emotionally unstable relationship ever. You love football and would die for it, but sometimes it makes you angry. Tip: If the Gamecocks ever lose a game, blame coach Steve Spurrier, contemplate changing schools and then proceed to voice your hatred on Facebook.
9. As important as family is, home-cookin’ is what really makes home, home. Some choice foods: barbecue (the Philly cheesesteak of the South), grits (they feel like sand in your mouth, but suck ’em up) and tea (in the South, the tea is sweet, but the people are even sweeter. Aww.).
10. Be friendly. No, I mean, be really friendly. Like, golden retriever “I have just met you and I love you” friendly.
1. Don’t be friendly, smile or even make eye contact with anyone you don’t know. Model your life after Kanye’s.
2. When utilizing public transportation, never give up your seat, even if the woman standing near you looks so old she might fall over at any moment.
3. In the North, if someone mentions a historically significant “Jackson,” we assume Michael, not Stonewall.
4. For breakfast, Northerners eat scrapple. None of this grits business.
5. Northerners say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Be PC or be shunned.