As is natural, the more time you spend in a place, the more you start living and imbibing the local cultures and norms. My relationship with the great american south is kind of like that. Anyone who lives here for a while knows that you are not a true blue southerner until you are at least a couple generations in. Or Ten. It’s all good, y’all. Because being the outsider is what I do naturally. The outsider gets a choice in what they accept into their lives. The insider, by virtue of being an insider, does not get that choice.
I have been viewing my own assimilation into this culture with a very jaundiced eye. I moved into a city — capital of the state, no less –which is defined by one street. One street. And a multitude of inner roads. But one main street. Having lived in cosmopolitan cities before that, this was a big step down. Because a southern city is a lot of things, cosmopolitan it is not. And that is a matter of pride.
Life awakens at dawn. My dawn is 10 minutes before I need to get out of the house. The southerner has lived half his day by this point. It is 9.00 AM, people!
The world lives in a 9-5 drudgery. The southerner indulges in a 4-3 day. 4.00 AM and 3 PM. By choice. The mind boggles. Who in their right mind chooses to wake up at 4.00 AM? The southerner does.
The rest of the world calls it happy hour. The southerner calls it dinner. I call it late lunch.
Life moves. At a pace. It’s all good. It moves. It’s like the good ‘ol southern drawl. It goes on… with no real goal, no end game. After a while, you realize, that’s just the southerner using their southern charm to decide how to deal with you, the outsider.
You use the pace you having been getting used to- to your advantage. And wait it out. Don’t make sudden moves, Don’t feed the beast. Be still and wait it out. Let the drawl go on.
More power to civil war reenactments. A Gauntlet Thrown.
Do you own a gun? – And Acknowledged.
Did you burn your own bridges?
Show me the money.
All men are created equal.
Any distraction is welcome at this point. The weather. The birds. The bees. Climate change, for God’s sake! Even the bloody liberals. Or democrats. Pretty much the same thing. Feminism!
You wait it out. And the drawl goes on.
But it is weakening. Once the small talk stash is empty and you are still lingering, the ingrained southern manners kick in. To hide the annoyance. And the drawl transforms into teeth gnashing attempt to politely ask you to fuck off. You politely agree. The sense of humor kicks in. And just like that, the southerner becomes the american.
And the American is able to connect with you as an outsider in a way that no true blue son of soil in any other country or community is able to. The chip on the shoulder falls. The baggage is dropped. Allowing you to do the same. Before you know it, you are home. In all your outsider glory.
What that means is that I can stay up past 6.00 pm. And wake up with the mid-morning sun. And keep banker hours. Hey, it matters. No one tells me when to wake up. It’s a matter of principle, you know. Even if I have to throw in the occasional y’all to drive the point.
Me and the south. Yeah. It’s all good, y’all.