I have established that Southern speak is its own form of English. Where else does your mama look at you and say something like “well, honey, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. I submit to you, no where.
Now imagine not just one Southern mother in a room but several. Then imagine that they are all related. Then add in their husbands, children, and grandchildren. This is like a festival of sayings, slang, and general entertainment.
I was recently home for an extended visit due to the death of my beloved Auntie O. In the South when death occurs many visits and countless food deliveries follow. Luckily, my family loves to eat and there are plenty of us to do it. I have 13 first cousins ranging in age from 6 to 58, 14 second cousins, and 5 third cousins with one on the way. These are just the cousins in my immediately family – on my father’s side they go on forever. In fact, there is one holler in town where I am related to everyone in it. These 33 cousins are just the beginning. And, I know that this is not the proper legal designation for cousins – no need for some smart wills and estates lawyers to correct me here. Of all those family members at least 29 were present at this sad occasion. In one house. Amongst the crowd were three lawyers, three physicians assistants, three nurses, five teachers, two ultrasound technicians, a speech language pathologist, nurse practitioner, a pilot, and a “hell of an engineer” as my Daddy says.
Below are some random comments that I overheard throughout one evening (please note that there is no way for me to put all these into context). This will give you a taste of a close Southern family in all its glory. Enjoy!
“I reckon we can tie a chain to it an pull it out?”
“That was the time we got that VW Beetle stuck in Bath County during the snow storm, that is what they are talking about.”
“We lived at the good end of the bottom, on the other side of the restaurant.”
“What is that (referring to a cousin’s tattoo)?”
“Donald slept in the Rambler that whole summer.”
“You were a happy baby, you just did not sleep.”
“Am I related to all these people?”
“Which one is your Dad?”
“Are you all still talking about the dogs?”
“Don’t give away my pickled beets.”
“Does he [vegetarian cousin] know that those green beans were made with fatback?”
“No, but I can’t wait to tell him.”
“She knew how to boss.”
“She hid the chicken and dumplings.”
“She made me give her a dip . . . the color drained out of her face . . . then she was laid out on the front porch throwing up.”
“This is no place for someone with a headache.”
“I can’t tell you I love you enough.”
“I can’t listen enough.”