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Living Southern
by Angela Gillaspie

I want to be in a Southern magazine. I need spice and excitement in my life, plus I want everyone (except Momma and my cousins) to take notice of me. Every month when I read my collection of Southern magazines, I get the same fired-up feelings that those folks on television get when they bite into a York Peppermint Patty.

Yee haw!

Iím qualified to write for this type of magazine because Iím as Southern as grits and Iíve lived in the Deep South my entire life. Of course, I did leave the South one time back in 1985 for my honeymoon in Barbados. Gracious, I could hardly understand a word those foreigners were saying, and they didnít even have pinto beans or barbecue on the menu.

My dear husband tried to convince me that those folks spoke English but heís a city-boy from Alabama and was probably trying to show off. Case in point was when he ordered a gin and tonic with his supper instead of a draft beer. By the way, there was no draft beer to be found down there -- anywhere.

Another reason I could be in a Southern magazine is my love of cooking. I could send in one of my recipes, but most of their recipes use exotic ingredients like baking powder or Shiitake mushrooms. Most of my recipes use either bacon grease or potato flakes. Hey, I could send them the recipe for snow cream, but not all Southerners have the main ingredient -- snow.

Also, there is Aunt Ruthís recipe for soap or her recipe for hushpuppies that amazingly have some of the same ingredients. Nope, Iím sure these recipes ainít glamorous enough for the editorsí distinctive palates.

My house might be worthy of being in one or more of these magazines. All I have to do is ship my four kids off to Mommaís for a while, replace the carpet, buy a new couch, paint over the crayon marks, buy some doilies to place over the gouges, and place baskets of fresh fruit on the doilies.

Naw, thatís too much trouble and my house wouldnít stay in that condition for longer than thirty seconds. As my sister-in-law Alicia would say, ďIt would take forty-lebím (forty-eleven: thatís a whole bunch) people to keep this place clean.Ē

I have to admit that I wished Grandma Whaleyís house couldíve been in one of those magazines before it caved in. For years and years that house stood slightly skewed to the left due to the shifting red clay foundation. The shutterbugs would have loved the tin roof, pot bellied stove, and orange floral couch on the front porch.

I could write about my travels, err, now that will definitely NOT get me into one of these magazines. Iíve lived in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, and Alabama, but travel? Travel is something you do at a leisurely pace to enjoy the view and food. When I travel, it is a three-hour white-knuckled hell-on-wheels trip listening to my children scream, ďARE WE THERE YET!?Ē Nope. I ainít going there physically or metaphorically.

Last is me -- I could write about just plain old being Southern. I canít really write about being a blue-blood-azalea type, since I lean more toward the poor-moon-pie-eatiní-redneck type. So, I contacted some of my Southern and non-Southern friends, and asked them what Southern meant to them to give me ideas for a nice little Southern story.

Most of my friends commented on the humidity and all the bugs we have. My Michigan friend Denise said, ďThe south is comfort, Southern hospitality, bugs, heat, bugs, heat, bugs, heat, and Southern Comfort to forget the heat and bugs.Ē

Iím partial to my bugs and heat, though. Living up north where my kids couldnít run around half-naked and there wouldnít be ants crawling on gardenias just wouldnít be home to me. I love slowly rocking on the front porch swing at night listening to the whippoorwills hoot and the cicadas scratch out their love songs while the fireflies flash out covert messages to each other.

The majority of remarks about the South were about our comfort foods: grits, pole beans, greens (collards and poke salet), cat-head biscuits, barbecue, black-eyed peas, gravy over everything, and chicken-fried steak. How do non-Southerners cook without bacon grease and cast iron? My buddy Cindy (from Chattanooga) said that she couldnít believe that none of my responses included boiled okra. I told her only Democrats eat boiled okra and most of these nice magazines are above petty political agendas. Besides, you must eat okra breaded in cornmeal and deep-fried to avoid your neighbors talking behind your back.

That might work. The writing angle just might be my ticket to get into one of these magazines.


Read more of Alabama Kudzu Queen Angelaís stories and those of other great Southern humorists at her marvvy website. Uh huh!

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