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The Southerner
by Lonnye Sue Sims Pearson


I received an e-mail one day asking for a definition of a Southerner. Thatís a difficult question to answer. I have very little with which to compare, having only been out of the Holy Land once, and that was a trip and a half, I tell you. To compare the South with Los Angeles, California, is like comparing Saddam Hussein to Jesus. It just ainít working for me, folks!

A Southerner is a hospitable, gentle, Bible-believing, church going, smiling, back slapping, give-you-the-shirt-off-his-back gentleman with every intention of doing right. At the same time, he is a backstabbing, animal-killing, truck-driving, barhopping, beer-drinking, loud mouth, no-good, cheating redneck without a soul.

On the other hand, a Southerner remembers all family membersí birthdays and anniversaries as well as the details of every State/Ole Miss, (or Georgia/Tennessee, Arkansas/Auburn, LSU/Florida, ad nauseum) football game ever played. And his mama.

A Southerner goes the extra mile during a crisis. He organizes prayer chains for the sick, food for the bereaved after a death, gifts for the bride and groom, ice cream socials for the elderly, music for the benefit concert for a child with cancer, and support for the lonely.

The South has produced (arguably) the most talented authors (William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Maya Angelou, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Fannie Flagg, Pat Conroy), musicians (Ike Turner, Elvis, B.B. King, Muddy Waters) and celebrities (Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Sela Ward, Gerald McCraney, Cybil Sheppard,) in the world. But it has also produced (arguably) the most hideous excuses for mankind (Jimmy Swaggert, David Duke, Bilbo, Byron de la Beckwith). So that either makes us geniuses or idiots; take your pick.

Southern girls have won the Miss America pageant more often than any other region of the country. So I guess that means that we can claim the prize in the beauty department. That is, until a tornado or a hurricane or any other disaster causes the media to air stories of said disasters. Then every toothless, overall clad, good ole boy vies for the camera to tell his story. However, while he wheezes or spits or scratches, he is organizing a clean up team for the elderly/injured neighbors and thanking the Good Lord that he and his were spared.

In other words, Southerners are real people with faults and accomplishments just like every other human on Earth. We are one family; we are one voice; we are one of a kind and every kind. We are kind.

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BIO: Lonnye Sue Sims Pearson, a Mississippi Delta native, now lives in North Carolina, where she teaches English. She writes: "I've never been published, but as an English teacher I have spent lots of years reading other Southerners' writing. I finally decided to gather my stories and put them on paper; when I am too old to recall anything, Iíll have a hard copy of my memories!"

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