Recently, two friends confessed the unimaginable: they have never seen the movie Steel Magnolias. They might as well have just spit unsweet tea on the grave of Scarlet O’Hara. I was appalled. One of them is a Yankee by birth, so it’s really not her fault. Her lack of proper home training can really be blamed on her parents. But the other is a debutante, for crying out loud. She went to cotillion, for Pete’s sake. She should know better.
To their credit, they have asked for help, instruction for where they have fallen short of true Southern Girlhood. I want to be clear, none of us are interested in perpetuating the myth of Southern ladies: delicate women who get the vapors, sitting on the front porch waiting for their men to ride up on their steed and rescue them from a life of any actual labor or concern at all in their pretty little heads.
We are quite beautiful, just ask our gentlemen suitors. We have good manners and genuine hospitality. We believe in being lovely hostesses to make people feel comfortable and welcome. But we are tough as nails. Raised to overcome low expectations and difficult circumstances, we can take all this life may throw at us, and we will look good doing it. Make no mistake, we’ll bake you cake and fix a fine supper, but we. will. judge. you. If we’re doing all this in heels with lip gloss, mascara and a Miss America smile, you best get out your fire baton and join in. Southern Life is no place for the weak of spirit.
I agreed to put together a syllabus for their formal education. This is the first draft. Consider this a working document. Their schooling will begin this fall.
Movies Since the picture show has air conditioning, this is fantastic place to spend time in the summer. If you haven’t noticed, it’s also dark. Young Southern girls have been known to let boys steal a kiss or two. But if you are interested in what’s showing on the screen:
Books Despite the ill-informed reputation for being dumb as dirt, the best Southern girls love reading. We love books. We love reading books. We are readers. (I make no claim these are the best works of Southern literature, only that reading them gives insight Southern culture.)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A Time to Kill by John Grisham
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
All Over but the Shouting by Rick Bragg
Food Let’s just get this out in the open: we eat meat. While we respect and appreciate those who chose not to partake, Southern girls like bacon, burgers and bar-b-que.
Chicken Fried Steak – I’m partial to the dish as it’s served at Capital Bar & Grill in Little Rock, but others can get the job done
Cheeseburgers – cooked medium with drippy American cheese, pickles, onions (for me hold the tomatoes) there is some debate if ketchup should be included with the mustard, for me either is good
Bar-B-Que – I prefer wet ribs to dry rub, but understand those who like less mess. Pulled pork sandwich from Whole Hog Cafe in Little Rock with #3 sauce dressed with slaw is hard to beat.
Fried squash, okra, onions, pickles – if its vegetable dipped in flour or breadcrumbs and fried in Crisco with lots of salt, YUM!
Breakfast for supper – eggs, bacon and pancakes make a divine Sunday night meal
Cornbread – simple, tasty, old schoolers crumble it into a glass of cold milk
Grits – truth be told with enough butter and cheese, I could eat cardboard, but that is how I enjoy grits
Maker’s Mark – half and half with Coke (not Pepsi or any other abomination) you can thank me later
Deviled Eggs – Learn how to make them, and use the proper tray to serve them. They are required at funerals.
This is far from a complete education. We haven’t even touched on music, funerals, college football or the proper use of the word “y’all.” But it’s difficult to get it all into one post. Send suggestions or revisions. We’ll get these girls on the right path in no time.