Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Southern Charm

While on vacation in Myrtle Beach, I realized that one thing I had forgotten about the South (Hubby and I lived in Charlotte, NC and Charleston, SC while dating and early in our marriage) was how friendly people are.

Everywhere we went, we were asked, "Where ya'll from?" and were immediately engaged in conversation. (Of course, with 5 males decked out in some sort of Red Sox gear at all times, we may have been a bit conspicuous.)

We were definitely in the minority as Northerners down there. It seemed most of the vacationers were Southerners who had driven to the beach from their hometowns.

Seemed like, for some reason, most of the little girls were named Hailey (Halley?Halle?Hayley?) and the little boys running around were either an Austin or a Levi.

And I can't count the number of times I heard, "Well, bless yer heart."

The pool, especially, was a hotbed of meet and greet as all the children (mine included) played and splashed and shared toys. It was welcoming to engage in conversations with others as we shared experiences and laughter and watched our children romp.

In that regard, it made me miss life down South. (And don't even get me started on the difference in weather. And how much I LOATHE the winter that seems to last for 6 months.) I realized that living back up North (I was born and raised and attended college in upstate NY) has certainly made me become more cynical and suspicious of others. Colder.

For here in New England, eye contact with strangers is rarely made. No one goes out of their way to initiate random chitchat. People are more closed-off, rigid and stern.

It's kinda sad, actually.

Southern driving, on the other hand, was quite frightening.

You see, in Massachusetts, it's a state law that vehicles must stop for pedestrians. In South Carolina? Notsomuch. We learned that the hard way.

One day, we had to use a different pool at the condo complex because the kiddie pool was being "worked on". (Total cover up. You know someone probably pooped in the pool and they had to drain it. Ewwww.) So we had to cross 4 lanes of traffic to get there and back.

Picture us: 2 parents, 3 children, 2 grandparents. Schlepping in swimsuits and sandals. Holding beach bags, towels, toys, coolers, etc. Trying to cross the street.

No one stopped! Cars just whizzed on by. We could only make a "run" for it (YOU try running in a wet bathing suit and flipflops whilst lugging a ginormous beach bag and holding hands with a small child) when all the lanes were completely devoid of cars.

Just picture the Atari game Frogger.

And THEN, if we happened to still be crossing while fast-moving cars approached, they beeped! Angrily!

Southerners: They'll kill you with kindness. And their cars.

15 comments:

pjmomof3boys said...

Ha! I'm not sure if I'd rather be killed with kindness or a car...Seems kindness would be a bit less messy...

I haven't been to the South much--a few times when I was younger and a few times on work trips (Houston, Atlanta, Birmingham), and I'd have to agree that Southerners ARE a friendly bunch. Too bad about Northeasterners. Why not be friendly? Where's the harm?

You need to come visit us here in the Midwest. Iowans are like Southerners, except we prefer sweet corn to grits. And if you come to Southern Iowa, you will even hear some "ya'all"s and "I reckon"s. I love it when I walk by someone on the street and say "Hi" and my son asks, "Who is that?" and I say, "I have no idea!" It's just what you do in Iowa.

So come on over to Iowa! I even know a place you can stay with three boys eager to play with YOUR three boys! And then we can leave all SIX BOYS with the daddies and go have a margarita! :)

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

The name Austin is EVERYWHERE down here. My SIL used it on her second child and I was stunned. I really thought she'd avoid something so overused. I used to love that name, but when every other baby boy has it, it loses it's charm.

In my recent experience, drivers in Boston aren't aware of the yield to pedestrians law!

Melizzard said...

As a Southerner born and raised I did a two and half year stint in NYC from 2000 - 2002 and was shocked and pleasantly surprised at how open and friendly and welcoming New Yorkers generally were. We used to joke that they must hiring Disney to pump the happy juice in the water like they do in Orlando.

Even before 9/11 everyone was very friendly to us. Maybe we just amused them. Afterward, well forget about it the whole placed centered around being kind to the people around you.

After that I've always felt the need to defend New Yorkers in the Yankees are not as friendly as Southerns debate.

But P.S. I'm going to say it might have been NY tourists trying to kill you with their cars. 'Cause we only drive old trucks you know.

amanda said...

omg i LOVE frogger!!

well not that you had to play it while on the highway on your vacation.

but you know what i mean :)

Mrs. Schmitty said...

I live in Jersey and say, almost on a daily basis, that I wish I could move South. I would love to live in the southern part of North Carolina or the upper part of South Carolina. You are right, the people are so much nicer.

Clare said...

I just found your blog, and it is great!

It sounds like a great vacation, we go down to Myrtle every summer. I know what you mean about crossing the street, VERY dangerous down there. XO, Clare

Shauna Loves Chocolate said...

I never realized there were so many incarnations of the name Hailey.

As for driving... even though we've got laws to stop for pedestrians, no one follows them. I wish they would.

fairytalesandmargaritas said...

Haha! Where in upstate NY are you from? I'm from Rochester.

Manic Mommy said...

"Southerners: They'll kill you with kindness. And their cars."

Priceless!

Lindsay said...

You're so right about stopping for pedestrians. I grew up in upstate SC, but we always would vacation near Myrtle. It is DANGEROUS to go walking there, because they will not stop. Ever.

Aside from nearly being mowed down, I'm glad my Southern peoples left you with a good taste in your mouth...and not just from sweet tea :)

QueenMother said...

You are so right. My minivan is a Suburban Assualt Vehicle but I am so happy to have you join us at "the club" for swimming and cocktails-that is if your pelvis isn't shattered.

Mom of 5 said...

Drivers are the same way in Arizona. They do not yield. For anything. But they are also not polite at all. They avoid eye contact. Friendly chatter usually does not happen.

I'm from West Texas. People there yield for EVERYTHING. And they wave. Even if they don't know you. Men hold doors open and politely acknowledge you. If they are going slow in front of you on a 2 lane road, they will PULL OFF so you can go by. It's amazing. I know not all of TX is that way, but it is where I lived.

It's amazing how different parts of our country are. I've been to 26states in my life, and each one has it's own "quirks".

Worker Mommy said...

Lord, I'm glad you made it home in one piece !

HeatherPride said...

I can relate - used to live in Mississippi and totally miss that Southern charm. But not the way Southern women dress. Who ever heard of attending a college football game in heels and pearls??

Immoral Matriarch said...

Southerners cannot drive. I hate NC. LOL

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