“Mama” and “Daddy”
I have no idea why we Southerners do this. All I know is that my Mama called her mama “Mama”, and her daddy “Daddy” until the day they died. My Daddy has done the same and I’ll probably be calling my parents Mama and Daddy long after they’re gone. When conversing with fellow Southerners, we don’t ask, “How are your parents?” We ask, “How’s your Mama and Daddy doing?” It is just the way. (And I know some of y’all get your feathers all ruffled over the idea of calling someone “Daddy”. I will never understand why “Daddy”, in particular, is so sexualized. Shame on y’all, get your minds out of the gutter!)
I do not fully understand this, yet I am so guilty of it. Like so many Southern women, I am OBSESSED with putting my initials on anything and everything. Which, given my status as a single lady, is a pretty wasteful thing to do. Can’t wear your old monogram when you change your last name (actually, maybe you can, because feminism). On a given day, I could be seen wearing a monogrammed ball cap, a monogrammed sweatshirt, with at least three different pieces of monogrammed jewelry, sporting additional monograms on my sunglasses or rain boots, and then I drive off into the sunset with my monogram car decal as I sip iced coffee out of my monogrammed glass. I do not find this image to be at all unusual and neither do any of the other hundreds of monogram adorned Southern belle types I come across on a daily basis. You could show me some baggy, unexceptional t-shirt and it wouldn’t faze me, but slap a monogram on it and, suddenly, it’s adorable and I have to have it. Don’t ask me why, I just do.
I don’t claim to be at the forefront of all things fashion and beauty; quite the opposite is true, if we’re being totally honest. Nevertheless, I do love flipping through the glossy pages of Vogue and admiring all the sleek, flat-ironed-into-submission hairstyles that so many high fashion models are shown in. I was born with naturally straight hair, so I like to think I was made to pull these looks off. But, it just doesn’t feel right. Back in the day, when my Southern mama was teaching me how to do hair, I was taught to worship hairspray and curlers. I learned that hair was not some limp thing on your head, but something to be spruced up with delicate curls. In my adult life, I have gotten increasingly lazy with just how dressy I’ll go with my casual looks, but I’ll be damned if I disappoint Mama by being seen in public with flat, dead-looking hair. I can’t explain why I feel this way, but it comes from a very deep place inside me.
Church as a social event
Now, before everyone comes out of the woodwork and blasts my ass, let me explain what I mean: In the South, church and churchgoing are a very big part of the social structure and culture. Churches are large institutions and the South boasts a particularly dense religious population. I was raised in a Catholic family, but have been an outspoken atheist for many years. My family knows and embraces this fact about myself, yet, without fail, every time I visit home, I am roped into attending church. Not to convert me, not to disrespect my beliefs, but because it’s just the place to be on Sunday. The South takes the idea of church way past the point of personal faith and religion; your local chapel is the center of all social life (unless, of course, it’s football season, in which case the social hub changes in venue to the local high school football stadium.)
High School Football
It’s well-known that the South loves its football. Professional football, college football (SEC! Whoop, whoop!), and high school football. Especially high school football. Despite the fact that I’ve been out of high school for years and that my younger brother started attending a private academy, my parents can be found on Friday nights in the fall, cheering on the local public high school team. Why? Because it’s where everyone else is. Why? I don’t know, the whole town just sort of shows up here.
Southern Pride (and everyone thinks their state is the “real” South)
I grew up in Texas, aka, The Center Of The Universe as far as any Texan is concerned. I would later move and pursue my university education at an SEC school in the more Deep South. One thing was consistent in both of my Southern homes: we love the South, we take great pride in the South, but “insert-home/current-state-here” is the real South and the rest of y’all can suck it! Southerners are, at the same time, strongly unified in their shared love of their region and fiercely protective of their home state, adamantly believing that of all the beautiful wonderful South, the state they call home is the best. Do y’all have this problem North of the Mason-Dixon line?