Had I known 40 years ago that attending college in Florida, and staying in the state after graduation, would put me on the slippery slope to becoming a “Southerner” I might have made a different choice. Might have…
It did not occur to me then that living in the South posed any significant cultural threat. I figured that since I was 18, my “culture” was already imprinted in my subconscious. That like those “shields” you put on your car’s paint job to protect it, nothing “furrin”” would penetrate. So living in very “Southern” north Florida for most of my adult life was not a concern.
But now I’ve learned that my optimism was somewhat misplaced. That like some cultural termite, “Southern” was slowly but surely devouring the foundations of my cultural house.
And how did I learn this? Why on the Internet, of course.
The sister of one of my high school friends sent me a link to an online quiz which evaluates whether you are “Yankee” or “Dixie” by asking what words you use. I was quite shocked to learn that I’m 76% “Dixie.” Seventy-six percent!!!! WTF?
The good news is that I’m apparently only “Dixie” in speech. (But if there’s any quiz out there that will gauge whether I’m “Southern” in any other regard, do not…NOT… send it to me. I’m afraid to know!)
My first suspicion was that it’s all my wife Susie’s fault. She’s not just “Southern”…she’s a gen-you-wine “redneck.” (Really; all that garden work gave her a red neck.)
When we were first dating, Susie’s Southern drawl was so thick I often couldn’t understand her and I had to ask her to repeat what she said. She also used many strange phrases. If we were at an elevator, she’d say: “Mash that button.” I always thought “mash” was what you did to potatoes. And if she gave a ride to someone, she’d say: “I carried him to the grocery.”
Now I did notice that some of those words were ones I used in the Philippines, so living in the South is not the entire explanation. But wait! Manila is located in…southern Luzon island!
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that some Southern language (such as “y’all”) has crept into my vocabulary. After all, I don’t want to come across as too much of a “furriner.” But I’ll never “mash” a button or “carry” anyone anywhere. I’ll let Susie do those….
Want to see if you’re “Yankee” or “Dixie”? Here’s the quiz, which tells you, as you answer each question, where that term is prevalent.
Y’all take care, heah?