Sorry I’ve been remiss in my postings as of late. I kind of picked up this bad habit lately called working. You see, when I first began this blog I was “under” employed. So I had plenty of time to cartoon and satire to my heart’s content. Now I’m nearing the sixth month anniversary of my new job and I’ve been quite busy receiving congratulatory calls, texts, and emails. Or rather, I’m just receiving a lot of calls, texts, and emails asking me to do stuff. The nerve right?
Nevertheless, my site stats have begun to climb on auto-pilot, being that this is now college football season. So, I had to give the people what they want. We all know that 75% of Southern culture is SEC football, 10% is the Civil War, 10% beauty pageants, and 5% bourbon. So SEC football it is to start the new season of blogging.
But then I had another problem; writer’s block. Haven’t I already blogged all my SEC stories? After all I’m one of the few Ole Miss alums who graduated in less than five years, so I don’t have but so many football stories. But then a friend reminded me that I often go on rants about how other schools, conferences, and game day experiences fail to live up to the SEC. And there you have it…perfect topic. And while some of my closer friends reading this will have heard these stories before, that’s true of about everything I’ve blogged about. At least this time there’ll be new cartoons.
And that was the other problem; Cartoonist’s block. You really can get out of practice with cartooning. But, once the first one was completed, the mental storyboard kicked in and this post took off. So without further ado, here’s my rant about how my other college football experiences have never lived up to my SEC ones.
For those of you new to this site, I didn’t grow up in SEC country. I’m a native of Virginia. So while my birthplace is not as football crazy as points south, it does make me 64% more likely to be president and 78% more likely to win a Civil War battle. That is to say, every Southern state is known for something. But the “southern” portion of my state is rapidly shrinking. Our universities seem like Big East schools (more on that later), and even the “in-state” kids can seem like they’re from out of state. And while I grew up safely entrenched along the south bank of the James River my region of the state is in the minority. So I fled to Mississippi.
You can read in several of my earlier posts how my time at Ole Miss shaped my identity. It especially shaped how I view the Saturday religion of SEC football. And like all things religious in the South, we tend to be evangelical, devout, and rather fundamentalist. Lukewarm college football gets spit out of our mouths. It was in the Bible I think… Bryant 14:5.
So fast forward a decade. I’ve been back in Virginia for awhile actually working in my major. For advancement in my field of work it became necessary to obtain a Master’s Degree. It made financial and professional sense to stay in state. In other words…it was free. And I wanted to get my degree as quick as possible. So I ended up at Virginia Tech.
Well that won’t be so bad right? That’s a football school. “You’re going to love it!” everyone tells me. Just wait until I see my first tailgate and game and it’ll be just like my SEC days…
Now don’t misunderstand me. I made some great friends at VA Tech. And indeed it has advanced me professionally as promised. The team was okay but…the football culture was rather lacking. Not their fault. They just don’t know no better.
I tried my friends. I really did try. I bought some Hokie paraphernalia and decided to give ACC football a shot. I even got season tickets and toned down my game day wardrobe a bit…you know the casual polo and khakis look of a successful land grant student.
Well when I entered my first tailgate I saw a shocking site. I believe I said something out loud to the effect of “well you can take the school out of the Big East but you can’t take the Big East out of the school”. Backwards caps, “alternate” Oregon style jerseys peddled by Nike, a sea of cargo shorts where there should be sundresses, and lots and lots of cornhole. Where I come from (collegiately speaking) the only time you should be watching cornhole is if you get sent to Parchman.
I guess I just never got used to the idea of tailgating on asphalt.
But then I realized It’s not really them, it’s me. See it began to dawn on me that the college football culture that I experienced as “normal” was actually very unusual, and that what I was witnessing in the parking lot was the norm for 95% of the country. So, I took that to heart, realized people were just having a good time supporting their school, and then I took a deep breath and decided they were all wrong!
But wait…I haven’t gotten to the game yet. The first game was against Marshall. I don’t remember much of it. I know they kept blaring a turkey call, and two dudes in front of me were “celebrating” with miniature shots of Wild Turkey from miniature airline bottles. And they were doing so in a way that I think is still illegal in Montgomery County, VA. But I wanted to give it a chance and I stayed until the bitter end of the 3rd quarter when the crowd did the Hokey Pokey. Then I left. The ACC was foreign.
I went back to two more games to at least see the in conference opponents. Maybe that would get better. The UNC game was better, I think because I got along with the UNC fans very well. Then there came the NC State game. That was a dilemma let me tell you. Ole Miss was not awful yet. In fact, that was a Cotton Bowl season for us. Yeah yeah, go ahead and laugh Bama fans, but to us, the Cotton Bowl is our version of the BCS championship…or at least as close as we’re going to get. I had a bet going with my LSU friend (and what does that tell you about the state of the ACC fan base that my best friend at grad school had gone to LSU?), and it was the CBS game of the week at 4 O’ clock.
Meanwhile in Blacksburg I had my ticket to the Wolfpack-Hokie matchup. I wore my Ole Miss t-shirt under my Virginia Tech fleece and headed to the stadium. Along the way I had a chance encounter with a fellow Ole Miss alum. We did the Hotty Toddy cheer and we’ve remained friends since. So one positive…
But still but the time the game starts in Hokie-land I swear the whole time I’m watching the scoreboard for the Rebel-Tiger score. I think they gave two updates. The first update it was announced as zero-zero. In the meantime I had to listen to Hipster Northern Virginia Hokie kids trash talking clueless computer geeky NC State kids. I wanted to plug my ears and sing the “Ballad of Archie Who” but it wasn’t going to work. There would still be an ACC game on the field and an ACC student section surrounding me. When the second score update was finally announced Ole Miss held a slight lead at halftime.
That was enough for me. Surely Ole Miss would blow this lead and I would lose my bet if I didn’t rush home to watch the game in person on TV. Now, normally I’d never leave a game at halftime. The 4th quarter is my earliest, and only if there is a blowout. But this was different. This was life and death. This was the SEC on CBS. I exited to the gates. The nice lady reminded me that I wouldn’t be allowed to re-enter. I replied “that’s okay; I’ve got a real game to see”. I quickly unzipped my maroon jacket, and proudly displayed the shirt emblazoned with the name of my true love and sprinted home.
And I made it in time to see the 4th quarter. Ole Miss barely held onto the game, but not before nearly tearing my heart out, causing me to shout obscenities that would make a sailor cover his ears, and make several bargains with my maker. And thanks to Les Miles not understanding the concept of time….we won. About a minute passed. The minute that Ole Miss fans expect the referee to reverse a call to cheat us (see whenever we play Alabama close), or for Vern Lunquist to yell “PSYCHE!!!!” But no, we really won! And I went outside the house, right when all the ACC faithful were walking and driving home from their mundane game that had mercifully ended, and I yelled, and jumped, and danced, and screamed, and yelled filled with the spirit of Johnny Vaught.
The next day I sold the rest of my tickets to fund a trip to Oxford, MS. Four games were worth the price of one. Even though the game I attended in Mississippi was a loss, and I was told upon my return that I missed an exciting beat down of Boston College, I really didn’t miss anything. They missed it.
As another LSU friend of mine says “a bad game in the SEC beats the best game anywhere else”. See, different denomination, but same religion.
But that’s just the ACC. What about a football powerhouse conference?
Lemme guess? The Big Ten?
Let me tell you about the Big Ten folks. Not the same. Nope. Been there, done that…twice even. That’s enough evidence.
The first time was when I went to a Penn State-Iowa game in 2003. Now, I always knew something was wrong with that school and in the end it was the cult like mentality of the place…
“Now wait a minute Southern Blogger” you’re saying….isn’t the SEC a cult? No, we are the true religion. See, we choose to be fans and students of our SEC schools and when they don’t live up to expectations someone pays. Like a bad minister we will send an inadequate coach packing as quickly as you can say Houston Nutt. And we boo our own teams. The girls boo too. Heck, they’re the meanest ones. Our school cheers are complex, and we also have the complexity to dress ourselves without the aid of the student body president. The “white out” nonsense, “we are Penn State” banal cheer, and inability to criticize team and coach when they gave up an easy game to an easy opponent was lame to say the least. But the worst of all was the pre-game announcement that “Beaver Stadium is a smoke free, alcohol-free environment, and we thank you for your cooperation.” No sarcastic cheers from the student section, no boos… (No booze?) and no middle fingers of youthful defiance. Just pre-approved cheers, school-approved signs, and school-sponsored team spirit. No thank you. Not impressed.
And then there was the famous time I infiltrated the University of Michigan. Now that was a lot more fun. Mainly because I decided to dress up in costume to infiltrate Midwestern football. I came as a Gerald Ford era Michigan Wolverine. In fact, I dare say my Midwestern costume was more Midwestern than the other Midwesterners. In true Globe Trekker fashion I went “native” and did what the locals did including: participating in a Climate Change Awareness Rally, spinning a post-modern Art cube, playing beer pong without beer (that was the oddest thing of all), learning their fight song, playing nerf football with strangers while making Heisman poses, and eating copious amounts of cheese fries with ranch dressing. Perfect infiltration. Except for one problem.
During my munching of the cheese-ranch fries at the bar, a friend of my friend, a hardcore Wolverine got into a conversation about the “overrated SEC”. The apostasy included rants about the “unfairness of playing bowl games in warm states, the easy non conference opponents the SEC faces, the quality of Big Ten NFL draft picks, media bias…yada yada”. And then, in full costume, in the middle of Ann Arbor, after all my successful infiltration…I blew my cover and went full on cheese fry to cheese fry Preston Brooks mode calling out Yankee lies. I couldn’t help myself.
By the end of the evening I was in a room of people who were watching the Minnesota Michigan State Iowa Purdue Indiana game. Or something like that. I couldn’t tell. What I could tell was these foreigners were watching a crappy game and cheering loudly when a real SEC game was on on CBS. It was awful, just awful. So I did what any good Southerner would do in the midst of a pagan ritual. I began preaching.
I began sharing about the promised land of Southern girls in pearls and sundresses, the smell of fried chicken, fall leaves and bourbon, the utter hatred you have for anyone else in the visiting student section, the rules of said combat, the battle scars, the joys, the defeats, the best damn football conference in the land. Amen and Amen.
In the end there’s only one school for me. You grad school can give you a nice resume and an extra diploma on the wall but it is not, nor can it ever be your alma mater.
I know which one mine is. Hell yes, damn right! You finish the rest…
NEXT TIME: I will show the Show-Me state how to properly behave in their new neighborhood. So long as we’re stuck with them. I’ll try not to be so late this time.
So I’ve been meaning to get this little blog post out about a week ago. Thing is life, errrr…rather work has a way of interfering with Southern fried blogging, so it took me awhile to finish up this batch of cartoons.
The one good thing about keeping busy, especially at a job where I interact with folks from all over the place is that it helps inspire new stories, or in an especially bad week filled with difficult people, forces me to reminisce about good times (some might call it a coping mechanism but that phrase sounds kind of Yankeeish to me). All I know is there was a song once that mentioned something about “old times” being “not forgotten”. I’m sure y’all know the tune.
So back and forth in my brain between bouts of stress and briefs moments of relaxation I developed this piece. Originally it was going to be a treatise on blue laws, the complex and contradictory nature of the politics of morality, and so forth but then the ghost of Lewis Grizzard told me…”son, it’s really just about finding cold beer on Sunday”.
And so it is…
According to the Sheriff’s department, Lafayette (Luh-FAY-It) County, Mississippi is a dry county. At least that’s what the signs always said. And certainly in a state where you often hear the phrase “the law is the law”, you’d expect folks to follow it to a “T”. Yup, judging by the beer cans and broken whiskey bottles strewn by the sign, a rickety post holding up a well used shotgun target, I guess you could say that people vote with their litter.
The signs are there for good reason. That is, you’ve been fairly warned. What Lafayette County is trying to tell you is that they’ve decided that it’s more profitable to bust you for alcohol than to sell it to you.
Now, it’s not that it’s illegal to take a sip or two in the county. They just figured if you couldn’t buy it there then you’d have to cross into another county to get it, then you’d probably not wait to get home, then flying down the highway, having emptied your bottles just you could pitch them against the Lafayette County sign while your buddy literally rides shotgun, and well fish are much easier to shoot in barrels. In other words, as Roscoe P. Coletrane would say “Cuff ‘em and Stuff ‘em.”
Navigating your way through the liquor laws in the various Mississippi counties nearly took an advanced degree in international relations. I guess that must be why Ole Miss started an international relations program when I was down there, just so folks could understand where to buy cold beer.
Lafayette County was even more complicated than most counties. Because it was home to the University of Mississippi it had a more truncated set of rules. I even think these were thoroughly explained during new student orientation. At least that was the part I paid attention to. Oxford was a “wet” town in a dry county. College towns were allowed to be dens of iniquity. But there was a catch. If you wanted to buy beer at a convenience or grocery store you had to pick up your cases and six packs off of the shelf. They were not allowed to be sold cold. You had to go home and chill them. This was of course to thwart college kids from drinking cases of beer in the store itself and running amuck. The town fathers had a good sense of how to prevent vice after all. Oh yeah…and not on Sundays. That was never mentioned anywhere on a store’s sign, because you were just supposed to know. Unless you were from Arkansas (more on that later).
So let’s say you are an Ole Miss student. You have money burning a hole in your pocket, you’re thirsty, and you want some beer. Only it’s Sunday and you know the county leaders have already figured out that you’re too stupid to just buy beer ahead of time (actually they were right about that). Let’s say you’re not even legally allowed to buy hoppy suds in these United States. Checkmate right?
Not so fast. Remember SOME Mississippi counties made their yearly revenue through enforcing morality. This then requires OTHER Mississippi counties to make their yearly revenue selling you into depravity. And thankfully Panola County was right next door.
There’s not much in Panola County until you get to Interstate 55. And even then really it’s just a pothole- filled ride on the way north to Memphis. Yet back in my day there was a place called Rick’s. There’s a line in Casablanca where one of the characters mentions “everyone comes to Rick’s”. In the film, Rick’s is Bogie’s character’s oasis of a bar during Nazi occupied Morocco in WWII. Our Rick’s while a little bit different was also an oasis.
The Rick’s everybody came to in our neck of the woods was a run-down gas station/ convenience store maybe two or three inches over the county line. I’m not kidding. It was clear even to the much younger and less world travelled me back then, that Rick’s sole purpose in life was to sell cold beer on Sunday to Ole Miss students. That’s because there was a giant sign that read “Cold Beer…Sundays” next to a Colonel Reb sign that read “Ole Miss students welcome”.
The other thing that was funny was that there was nothing within ten miles of Rick’s other than cotton fields. And, if you drove past Rick’s on any other day of the week, it was empty. On Sundays it was packed with SUVs and pickups with fraternity tags and Ole Miss parking stickers. Rick was a hell of an advertiser after all. He knew his target market.
The funniest part about Rick’s place was what you saw after you walked in. There was nothing, and I mean nothing, blocking the wide path from the entrance to the giant beer cooler. To the right and left were chips, candy, toiletries and other items that were covered in dust. I guess Rick wasn’t too concerned with people figuring out his front operation. He also had another saying that quickly made the rounds of campus (also probably in new student orientation), “if you can walk, you can buy”. No questions asked. And he even had Polaroids of people getting their picture taken there with him. Rick was a hero! Well…more like a hero to the corruptible deputies who wanted to supplement their income.
The law is the law. Students will be Students. Money is Money.
Just take it easy crossing back in Lafayette County.
On a regular weekday however you didn’t have to go over to Rick’s. He was probably closed anyway (I never could tell). So the place to go was the Rebel Barn. It kind of had a “if you can drive you can buy policy” if the right people were working. And if your Hawaiian ID said “McLovin” that was all gravy. It was kind of a nice ritual to go there after class on Friday or instead of class on Friday and stock up for game day or just the weekend in general.
Then there was that one special Christmas of 1996. Well not so much Christmas but Christmas Ale. And it wasn’t even Christmas but January 1997 after we got back from break. It rarely gets down to freezing for any long period of time in North Mississippi, but I remember it being quite chilly. The cases of beer in the Rebel barn were about to freeze and become wasted. The stoner dude who worked that day, who was known to be lax on the rules, mentioned to us that they had to unload cases of 1996 Abita Christmas Ale and that they were on sale for $4 a case. Yup, $4 a case for Abita…and by the way Abita is a very good Louisiana swill.
So needless to say we got ourselves a huge stockpile of Abita Christmas Ale. I think it took months to get through and we even had our TV sitting on top of some cases. The getting it there was the hard part. You had to lug beer several six packs at a time up to your dorm room.
Of course, you had to hide this from the petite authority of the dorm R.A.s But this could be achieved by placing the six packs in your book bag. Clearly we were all attending the university to study and were returning from the library. I think our Abita Christmas Ale took about 50 trips to the “library”. I do remember one visiting parent remarking about “how studious we were”. Smart aleck kid that I was I probably thought he didn’t get it. Now I’m thinking he was probably an alum himself and knew what we were doing. After all library books don’t make clinking sounds.
There was a whole ritual to getting beer my first couple of years. Learning the laws, learning the REAL laws, learning about Ricks, learning how to properly pack a book bag, and then learning how to chill them quickly in the micro-fridge (you didn’t think micro-fridges were used for milk and butter did you?)
After I turned 21 and the thrill of the chase was transformed into a mundane walk into any grocery store or mart when the mood struck, the blue laws didn’t really affect me much. I had gotten used to them, and not having buying beer on Sunday wasn’t a big deal, nor was even buying or drinking beer even a big deal. I’d honestly forgotten about the “No Sunday beer” rule.
Then one day while I was getting gas I saw a rickety late 70s Camaro pull in. It had Arkansas tags and the man that got out of the car clearly went with it. He had a dirty ball cap, long hair and a beard, torn jeans, and a t-shirt and shoes on that were clearly being worn because they were required to purchase in this particular establishment.
Seconds later he angrily emerged from the store and then spoke to me. Why people like this always come up and speak to me, I don’t know, but thankfully they make such great material. He asked “HEY MAN! HOW COME THEY WON’T SELL ME NO BEER!” I paused, remembered what day it was and then told him that in Oxford they don’t sell beer on Sundays but that there’s no sign, you’re just supposed to know. Then he calmed down and replied “Oh, I just thought it was because I was from Arkansas.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
In any case, I sent him to Rick’s. It’s on the way to Arkansas.
It’s been several months since my last post on The South Will Blog Again. You’ll have to forgive me for my absence. I went and found a full-time job. Funny thing about blogging…you have a whole lot more time to do it when you don’t have much else to do. So in any case, it’s been about ten weeks on the new job and I’m pretty settled in. I do have less time to draw cartoons so I’ll be posting most likely only once or twice a month instead of weekly.
Nevertheless, I have resolved that the South will indeed blog again. In any event with new co-workers, many of whom are “sectionally challenged” (from the North that is), I have had a new batch of people to tell my Mississippi stories to. And that reminded me of this blog and that I have a worldwide forum for them.
So this will be the first part in a three part series based on my observations about life in that misunderstood state of Mississippi. I was both an outsider and an insider there. I wasn’t born in Mississippi, but long time blog followers will know I was schooled there. And by “education” I really mean in the art of storytelling, cuisine, blues music, flasking it, and SEC football…you know all the important things in life. Along the way I learned to see the charm in the little quirks that tend to annoy those from the outside, especially from those states that have lots of snow, traffic, and frowning people.
Of all the things that tend to annoy first-time visitors, especially from up-North, is how %@#$ slow things are in Mississippi. And in my little way, I’m here to explain how it all works. So sit back and enjoy the story and cartoons, and forgive my little mistakes, I am after all, a bit out of practice.
– Southern Blogger
It Takes Time to Spin (a) Yarn
People in Mississippi love to talk. And perhaps that’s why I fit in so well down there. I love to talk…I mean seriously I can talk and talk and talk and talk. I even get paid to talk hours on end. One of the nice things about Mississippi is that people take the time to speak to one another, swap stories, tell lies, and then tell some %$#@ lies on top of that. In fact, its the most story-telling place in the whole country. More writers and musicians come from that state per capita than anywhere else. Mainly because there’s not much else to do, and as I’ve blogged before, Yankees will pay you a whole lot of money to make up crazy stuff as long as you throw in some moonlight, magnolias, and talking fish (see Faulkner, William).
Now where was I? Oh yes getting side tracked talking too much about people who talk too much.
In any case, one of the keys to social success in the Magnolia State is learning how to navigate the world of conversation. You run into it right away when you get off the highway and come to a Mississippi Welcome Center. In my personal experience nearly all welcome centers in the state are staffed by older ladies with big hair who offer you fountain Coke or coffee, and have a wall sized portrait of Elvis.
My last visit was in 2010. I crossed into the state from Alabama and went right up to the counter for my free Coke and conversation. Sure enough an older lady with big hair welcomed me. The first thing you might hear will be “welcome to such and such county, Mississippi”. Certainly the second question will be “where are you from?” This question can certainly be answered incorrectly. Depending on how well (or poorly you answer) you will be asked about how long you plan to stay. It’s sort of like customs.
In my case I said “Virginia” (usually good), “South of Richmond” (better), “I went to Ole Miss” (great unless its a State fan), and “I really love Mississippi, it’s a second home”. To which I was simply told “welcome home”. So I passed. I also got two more refills and ended up hearing the lady’s life story, discussed football season, and heard about the crazy local radio preacher that comes in once a week (yes to the visitor center in his own town).
Now either you get that ritual or you don’t. But in case you are unenlightened I just passed a test. No doubt my license plate was called in and various sheriff’s deputies, hotel staff, waitresses, and storekeepers were alerted that I was “good people”. They are networked like that.
That’s because I took the time to not be in a hurry. Just imagine answering those questions wrong and then being in a hurry to get through the welcome center. Yep…you’re getting pulled over son.
These are the conversation rituals, and when business is occurring, even when business doesn’t seem to be occurring you are being sized up.
Way back in school, for my senior research paper I had to interview someone important to my topic. Before I could do the interview in person I had a phone interview (which had the “where are you from” question). After driving to the man’s home, I had to meet his Mrs. who served me a plate of Mississippi mud pie (which is fantastic), compliment her, refuse seconds, then take seconds, and further compliment her, followed by the man of the house discussing college football, then high school football, then more college football (in that order) before proceeding to business. I got the interview and an A on that paper.
Slow down…sit a spell…pay attention to the conversation. Keys to survival.
Well…That’s Just Earl
See friends, some people are never gonna get what I just said. They are usually in a hurry and won’t slow down for nothing. And they’re even the type of folks that would try to correct the double negative I just wrote. These folks are called Yankees. Now I mean no offense, it’s just the way they are. When you go to the North, people are walking real fast, like their pants are on fire. They have to walk fast to catch public transportation, to get to their corporate offices, or to get to their cars real fast so they can sit on the highway real slow. Yep that’s pretty much the entire North. You don’t have to go there just take my word for it. When have I ever exaggerated on here? In any case if you are really curious just go to Atlanta. It’s kind of the same thing.
Now as for Yankees in a hurry. Don’t be in Mississippi. Repeat. Don’t be. You can’t do it. What I mean is this…either you are going to be driving along real fast in the back county and get pulled over for driving over 56 in a 55 zone with the wrong state’s license plate…or you’ll run into “Earl”.
Who’s Earl? Well “Earl” (don’t forget the quotation marks) is every guy I’ve ever seen in a broken down pickup truck along the highway. Usually “Earl’s” truck will have more colors on it than a rainbow…that is if a rainbow was seven shades of rust. “Earl” might be missing things on his truck that in other state’s would be needed for inspection…such as working brakes, an accelerator, or a license plate. But the funny thing about “Earl” is this. You can bet he will be going 40 miles under the speed limit, and you can also bet that nobody is gonna care. That’s because everybody around there knows “Earl” and they’ve planned their trip around him.
And if you try to pass “Earl” and you aren’t driving an ambulance, well then you are going to see some flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror. (“Earl” won’t because he doesn’t have one). Then you will meet the deputy with the mirrored sunglasses. His name is “Roy”.
So don’t be in a dang hurry. Plus “kid’s is playing”. Understand?
Some Folks Don’t Get it
Still, you can be sure that some people won’t slow down for any reason. Let’s say they get past the welcome center without having a conversation, and even pass “Earl” on the road without getting pulled over by “Roy”. They’re still going to run into slowness. That’s because Yankees at some point will get hungry and have to get food from a chain restaurant. Big mistake.
Everyone from the Deep South knows that our fast food places are the worst in the country. Bar none. Look, we don’t admit to being bad versus the North at a lot of things. Not when it comes to beauty pageants, liquor, hand to hand combat, hunting, fishing, and college football (the important stuff). But we’re real bad at fast food.
See the secret is we are better at sit-down diners, roadside cafes, and barbecue pits. For some reason food service in the South is faster in those places, and the meat cutters, ticket takers, and waitresses still have time to hear your life story and tell you theirs. Yet on the other hand, our fast food establishments will always be super slow and lined up out the door. That’s because Southerners don’t work very hard when they can’t carry a conversation. And chains, which are all headquartered in New York, always write the training manuals wrongly. An obvious exception is the Southern based chain Chick-Fil-A which combines fast food with good ole Southern charm. “My pleasure”.
But back to the point. Every Mississippi town no matter how insignificant has a Dairy Queen. And the DQ will be broken down, and have only one person working the register. That person will also be on drive thru, the fry cook station, the ice cream station, and be the manager. Get the point? It’s not worth it.
Now locals who do end up in the long line ahead of you know it’s going to take a while. And they know they are unlikely to get what they asked for. Just pay, take it, eat it, and remember to go to Smedley’s BBQ next time. But then there’s always one highway Yankee. This person will be instantly spotted. They will have on their Red Sox or Yankees gear, have a ruddy face, and a snide angry look to them. At some point they will sigh and huff and puff about slowness. About ten minutes into their slow burn they will attempt (futilely) to rally the other customers to their side. Then when at the counter they will explode into a full fledged rant with no effect. Southern fast food workers are impervious to this form of criticism as it will not make them work faster. Then the icing on the cake is when the Yankee asks for the manager, realizes that the 19 year old that spilled the cherry sunday on the floor is in fact the manager.
Again, you have been warned.
So there’s science behind this?
Yes, I’m glad you asked. There is in fact a scientific formula to why things in Mississippi run so slow. In has to do with the ratio of Mississippi heat and humidity, times the personality of the person that is in your way, which is quantitated by the amount of bourbon to the second or third power, and then sub divided by the time of day and quantity of fried food the person consumed. It’s all simple arithmetic people.
Seriously…have you ever tried to move fast when it’s 116 degrees? And I’m not even factoring the heat index. You will die within minutes if you try to exert yourself under such conditions. That kind of heat melts asphalt, evaporates tires, and turns all show poodles into hound dogs. It’s got that kind of power. To survive, slow down, find you some shade, sit down, relax, and grab some iced tea or lemonade. At that point you can brush up on your conversation skills.
So in the end it really is a matter of things being too hot to move fast. It’s science…not quite the Gospel…but still…it’s stuff up on the chalkboard.
So is there a way around all this?
Yes sadly there is. You can drive around the state (recommended if you’re gonna be rude about it), have a car faster than “Roy’s” (unlikely), and don’t stop to get gas, food, or pee. Then and only then can you beat the slowness.
Well… then there’s one more method that’s worked for Florida, Atlanta, Northern Virginia, and Charlotte. You can just move there. Someone, I think it was US Grant during the Civil War, figured out that the way to beat the South’s greatest weapon of heat and humidity was through the air conditioner. It’s sort of like the atomic bomb of North-South relations. With air conditioning, Northerners have been able to survive in the South (in their compounds) where they can drive as fast as they want, order fast food, watch hockey, vote liberal, and do all kinds of crazy stuff we in the South don’t understand.
But somehow I think, all the air conditioning in the world won’t get you past the “Big Hair lady”, “Earl” and the manager of the Duck Hill, MS Dairy Queen. At least I don’t hope so 😉
Well, friends it feels good to be back blogging again. Next time check the site out I as discuss part two….all about blue laws (and how to get around them).
– Southern Blogger