I’ve been in Illinois a week and thankfully I have not had too much in the way of culture shock! I was a bit surprised when I tried a new grocery store and they required a .25 deposit for the cart, then charged me for bags, then made me take my groceries back out of the cart to bag my own bags…which I just paid for, but nothing was as surprising as the things I encountered when I moved from New England to the South. Some of them are funny (now) and so in no particular order….
- Texas Pete is not a biker dude. When I first moved to the south, I left the world of law and my position as a paralegal to wait tables. The money was much better, and I was not stuck behind a desk. A rather large man with a Harley Davidson shirt asked me for Texas Pete. The restaurant was loud on a Sunday morning for brunch, so I did not clearly hear the way the question was phrased….I just heard the name. I was taken back for a moment. I know I have tattoo’s, but what about me made this guy think I hung out with a guy named “Texas Pete”? When I told the gentleman I didn’t know him, he asked for hot sauce in an aggravated tone. It wasn’t until I got back to the server station and asked if anyone knew my mystery man, did I realize my mistake. Texas Pete IS the hot sauce. This was 10 years ago, and I’m sure Texas Pete has made it into New England supermarkets since then.
- Armadillos are roadside ornaments. In the 10 years I spent in the Carolina’s, I never once saw a living armadillo. I only saw them on the side of the road….dead.
- Alligators will fuck you up. I’m not kidding when I saw my first “Beware of Alligators” sign and about choked. I had no idea I was moving to the land of gator, and I thought they only lived in the Bronx Zoo. Not only do they walk about freely, there was one found at a drive thru window in the heavily populated Tanger Outlets near our house, just looking for a burger. Not cool.
- They are still fighting the Civil War. This one is sad. As soon as I landed in North Carolina, and even more-so in South Carolina, it was evident racism is a BIG deal. Having grown up an hour outside of New York City, where you can be anyone you want to be, I was shocked. I can’t tell you how many times I was called a “Yankee” with negative connotation. Some people just automatically hated me because of where I was born. They have not realized the Civil War was over 150 years ago, they lost, and my family didn’t even get here until the 1920’s…..we really had NOTHING to do with it.
- They call Cockroaches “Palmetto Bugs!” Not only is this the state bug (gross), it’s a damn cockroach. Southerners can call it what they want…it’s a cockroach and it’s nasty!
- College Football is a Religion. It doesn’t matter if you even went to college, or where. Everyone has an affiliation they pull for on game day. Some of the major teams include USC, Clemson, Ole Miss, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. Like I said, you didn’t have to go there, you just have to wear their colors and carry their koozie around….which brings us to number 7….
- Everyone uses a Koozie. I had never heard of this until I showed up in the south. Everyone uses koozies for everything from soda to beer. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They even personalize these things. Having a bakery, I delivered cakes to a lot of weddings. Personalized koozies were so popular, I swear 3/4 of all weddings I did the cake for offered guests their own koozie commemorating the happy couple. Koozies bring me to the next thing…Moonshine.
- Moonshine exists. In high school and college I could drink a lot of people under the table….then I met moonshine. People in the south still produce the illegal substance in sheds and can it in mason jars. It comes in a variety of flavors and is often given as a gift…you know…on the down low. This stuff is no joke! My first sip almost knocked me off my stool. I’ll just stick to my Amaretto Sour, thanks.
- No One is Ever in a Hurry. Dear Lawd I cannot express to you how frustrating it is when you’re trying to do ANYTHING in the south in a timely manner and everyone else is just taking their time! They don’t drive fast, talk fast, or just move fast at all. Yes, I grew up an hour outside of New York City where the term “A New-York Minuet” comes from, but seriously folks, people will just miss entire green lights and NO ONE will hit their horn AT ALL…EVER….. These same people enjoy sitting out on their front porch, just sitting. They aren’t even reading a book. They just sit there with dogs next to them…..doing nothing!!!! The dogs bring us to number 10.
- Hunting Dogs Are Working Dogs. Here is another sad one. So many people in the South actually use their dogs as hunting tools. When they are done with the dog, they abandon them. The most common of these dogs are Treeing Walker Hounds. I have had 3 in total….all abandoned.
This is Tremor. He survived one of the worst abuse cases in SC history (by the skin of his teeth) and was once a great hunting dog. Because he’s older, he was abandoned and given to a man who killed over 200 hunting dogs. Tremor was one of 45 to survive.
- BBQ is important. In Connecticut, we used to drive over an hour to get the best BBQ in the state….it was also the ONLY BBQ in the state. In the south, BBQ is so serious, each state has their own signature flavor or rub. Some people will only eat certain types of BBQ and I’ve even heard people fight over what is the best. Seriously, I was just happy to have it wherever I went! Some people take their BBQ so seriously, they drive around with smokers attached to their vehicle. I guess it’s “just in case?”
So there it is! The good, bad, funny, and ugly of living in the south.