Although time has changed many aspects about the South, there is still a Southern culture. When I was travelling to Kenya, Uganda, and, later, to the Philippines, I was advised to familiarize myself with the culture of those societies so as not to offend and so that I would not look like a bumbling oaf. When I moved to western Colorado, I discovered that there was a culture there, too, and I would need to become knowledgeable about it.
What makes the South a little more difficult to truly navigate is that each region has a sort of micro-culture. I hail from northeastern Tennessee which is culturally different from even middle or western Tennessee. Certainly, it is different from southern Georgia or even eastern North Carolina.
So, to help those who are moving to, or even visiting, this grand and glorious region collectively known as “The South,” I asked my friends on social media to share the WORST advice one could give to someone heading our way. Here is a collection of some of that really terrible advice:
Southern grandmothers appreciate being told that county ham, eggs, and gravy and biscuits is not a healthy breakfast.
“Y’all come back,” means to turn around and walk back to where you were and stay until it’s really late.
Tell everyone how great it is up North! Big hit. Also, preface some advice with, “Up North we do it this way.” And, Be sure to include the phrase “Well, you know, back up North,…” in every conversation. (Or whatever part of the country you are moving or visiting from.)
Be sure to tell everyone how much you dislike all these historical monuments and statues in nearly every town.
You should never pull over and stop for a funeral procession.
You don’t need a pest management company. The bugs aren’t that bad.
Now that you’re in the South, you won’t need winter clothes. It never gets cold down here.
You really won’t need air conditioning in your car or your house.
Be sure to tell your new Southern friends that NASCAR is not a real sport, or, that SEC football is not competitive.
“Bless your heart” is a compliment
When you believe a physical confrontation with a Southern man may be imminent, immediately “Talk trash.” Insult his religion, his beliefs, his mother. All of these are effective. The timid Southern man will flee. (When giving this advice, ensure the northern gentleman has current emergency contact information).
Same scenario, but dealing with a Southern woman: add her children to the top of the list of things to insult (in this case make sure their Last Will and Testament is duly notarized).
Ask someone “What’s all the crud hanging from the trees”? (It’s Spanish Moss, by the way.)
Never say, “Sir” or “Ma’am,” especially to those older than you.
Treat a round-about as a four-way stop — everyone will love you.
Be sure to poke fun at Southern accents and have the attitude that these people are dumb.
If someone offers you grits, say, “Sure, I’ll try one.”
Go ahead and schedule an important event on any Saturday in the fall. There’s nothing else going on at that time.
Make sure you correct grammar and mispronunciation — you know, like pointing out that “irregardless” is not a real word. It helps to laugh just a little when you do it, so they know you are just trying to help and are a fun kind of guy.
Always order Pepsi at a restaurant.
Make sure to remind your new friends that the South lost the war. Use the word “confederacy” a lot in conversations. They love being reminded of their history.
Outdoor, midday weddings are only acceptable during the last two weeks of July and the first three weeks of August in the south.
Before moving, get rid of all your casserole dishes.
Let it be known that you are for gun control, for greater government control, and for the taxation of churches.
You won’t need a ceiling fan on your porch or in the house.
And there you have it — some of the worst advice possible for folks moving to the South, offered by people, including transplants, who currently reside here.
If you DON’T take the advice offered, your journey through, or re-location to, the South will likely be pleasant. You will find Southerners, generally, to be a patient lot, slow to anger, even slower to retaliate — even when provoked — and welcoming in most situations.
But, go too far and cross that invisible line, and, like a racoon or opossum who is cornered in the garage, they very well may bare their fangs and claws and defend their integrity, honor, and reputation with great enthusiasm.
In other words, the advice for anyone, including Southerners, entering a different culture — whatever that culture may be — is simply, in the immortal words of SpongeBob SquarePants, “Don’t be a jerk”
[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). During the pandemic, the church is open at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays but is also live streaming at www.ctk.life. He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South (www.midsouthdiocese.life) He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]