Friday, August 14, 2009

Southern Manners

While driving across the state of Washington last month I reclined in the front seat of the borrowed truck Grant was driving and immersed myself in my Southern Living Magazine. Zach and Kayla were seemingly entranced by their Nintendo DS games and Grant was listening to something on the radio. The road stretched long before us, it would be six hours before we arrived in Sandpoint.

I thumbed through the magazine making mental notes of recipes I would come back to examine later and found myself at the very back of the magazine. Normally I am religious about the way I read a magazine. I always give the entire thing a cursory glance, folding pages of articles or photos that I would want to examine in greater detail later. With my strategy set, then if I need to I can set the magazine aside and come back to it later, not having to start at the very beginning again. I suppose this whole thing got started when I had kids and I had to pick things up and put them down again.
But since I had six hours to wander through the photos, recipes and articles I abandoned my rules of reading and read the back of the magazine first. Oh the horror...I know.
I jumped into a fun article called "15 Ways to Charm Her" that detailed all the ways men can impress a Southern Girl. Since I'm a Southern transplant I wasn't sure if I would relate but decided to read on and see if any of the suggestions were in fact, true for this true Northerner.

Here are a few of the suggestions that I read out loud to Grant, and little did I know Zachary was listening to every word. Check out his response at the end.

1. Stand up for a Lady...doesn't always involve a chair
2. Know that the SEC has the best football teams in the nation...this doesn't necessarily apply to me.
3. Kill Bugs...yes for sure do this for me.
4. Hold Doors Open...I love this one!
5. Fix things and build stuff...Yes, I am always fascinated by the things that Grant can build.
6. Wear boots occasionally...Um, hmm.
7. Take off your hat inside.
8. Grill stuff...and this means besides hamburgers.
9. Call us...Yes, please, even if you just saw us that morning.
10. Stand when we come back to the dinner table...doesn't mean when we are at home but it sure is nice when we are out on a date.
11. Pull out our chair.
12. Don't show up in a wrinkled, or untucked shirt.

So, one of the things I've come to love about living in Texas is how polite everyone is. How the kids all say "Yes, Ma'am and No, Ma'am" and how even some of my adult friends when speaking to an elder use the same kind of language. I love it. It might be old school but it's refreshing to hear especially when it seems like the world we live in could use a taste of good manners.

When I finished reading the list to Grant and we agreed that he does most of these things for me most of the time. And I felt satisfied that, yes indeed, even though I'm a Northern girl by birth, that maybe the South is a place that I can live and love, I heard a little voice pipe up from the back seat.
"Mom," Zach said, "Do you think I could read that article?"

I had no idea he was listening, and second of all, I had no idea he was interested. Grant raised his eyebrows at me and I stifled a laugh. "Well of course, you can...but let me ask you a question. Why do you want to read it?"
Zach reached for the magazine and smiled sheepishly, then shrugged his shoulders. His response was more to the magazine page then to me but I heard it anyway, "Well, I figure that if I'm going to live in the south, maybe I should make sure I know about southern manners, especially if that's what makes girls happy."

So, there it is. My son wants to have good manners because it "makes girls happy". Not sure how I feel about that. Of course I want him to have good manners but am not quite sure I'm ready for his reasons behind it...Girls, really??


Carla Burke said...

I love Southern manners. I grew up here and was very used to the men in my opening doors for me. Then I met Phil from Chicago and he didn't have a Southern manner in his body. We're working on it and I always remind him it is teaching Sean manners who seams have been born with the Southern manner gene. lol
Great article!

Creating_Job_Security said...

Love this. If you think about it though, you and Grant were only a few years older than Zach is now when you took notice of each other. :) Probably not what a mama wants to here. xxoo