Monday, April 20, 2009

If You "Country" & You Know It

I was born in West Texas, but raised in Alaska. My husband was born in West Texas and raised there. My husband thinks I talk "white." That pisses me off because what he means is, not that I use the language correctly but that I don't sound flat, "country" and dusty-road raised. Or, worse yet, he thinks that to sound educated is something that only certain races can do. What about Asians and Hispanics and other with an accent?... In his defense, let me say that Tim doesn't really mean to be narrow-minded. I am working on him, trust me.

Now, having said that, I don't have a problem with other peoples accents. Matter of fact, I have the habit of mimicking people when I am around them for more than 20 minutes. I'm not as bad as my sister, who can be a little embarrassing when she does the same thing. When I lived in England, I had to damn near chew my tongue off to keep from doing a bad impersonation of Princess Di. When I get around my Texas-raised cousins, I start saying stuff like "over yonder," "soda water," I ain't studdin; (studying) y'all," and I might even slip in a "chill-run" or two if there are some kids around.

Mostly, though, I speak pretty much with what I think of as no accent at all. But my husband, with his country ass, calls that "talking like a Yankee." Hmmph. I'm so slow that, for a minute,  I thought he was talking about the baseball team! (I'm kidding.)

Whatever accent I speak with, I do know my behind is from the "country." I spent over 30 years of my 47 on this earth in Alaska, but I still have the ways of a country girl. The evidence?

  • I know what hot water cornbread is
  • I have used Vaseline, petroleum jelly - or whatever you want to call it - and olive oil as my primary weapon in the war against ashy-ness (and I use the word "ashy" to describe dry skin)
  • I have at times safety-pinned my money to my clothes
  • I have kept extra safety pins on me (usually pinned to my slip or the inside of a blouse or dress)
  • I have sat around the house after church in nothing but my slip and houseshoes
  • I do know how to "sop up" gravy with a biscuit
  • I was putting bleach in my dishwater before Dawn mixed it with their detergent
  • I like mint in my iced tea
  • I have put a piece of eggshell in coffee grinds before brewing
  • I know what fatback is
  • I have had homemade pork rinds
  • For a long time, baking soda was my toothpaste, deodorant and basic kitchen cleanser
  • To this day, I address folks older than me as Sir or Ma'am
  • I remember chewing tar for the health of my teeth
  • I know what "'Shine" is (hint: it's not for your hair or nails... It's hooch, people. 
  • Moonshine...)
  • I know you can "mark" a baby before it's born
  • I knew people who actually whittled while they sat on a porch
  • I can fix a single chicken to feed 10 people
  • I remember being able to buy dill pickles from a big barrel in a corner store
  • I know people that can fix fried chicken in a bag
  • I've had smokehouse meats - right out of somebody's smokehouse
So, yeah, no matter how I talk, I haven't lost anything about my early upbringing. I'm a country girl & I'm proud of it.

Cedric the Entertainer talks about what the "country" is. (And BTW, we didn't call people "gay" when I was growing up in the country; we called them "funny" and even though we called them that, didn't treat them like they were less than anybody else.)