You know you’re in the South when…

  • Children call their elders Mr. Firstname and Miss Firstname, except Miss sounds like Miz.  So does Mrs.  (And, of course, so does Ms, but nobody uses that.)
  • The nurse checking you in cannot reconcile the fact that you have a different last name from your spouse with the idea that you’re married.  (“But you have different last names… so you’re not married.” [repeat a few loops, then]  “We’re married.  We’re just professors.”  “Ohhhhhhh.”)
  • Bless his/her/your heart… doesn’t really mean bless his/her/your heart.  It means ya did something dumb.  Or they just don’t like you.  Or sometimes that there’s been a tragedy.
  • Store-bought desserts are actually pretty tasty.
  • You can’t find good whole-grain bread.
  • You can find amazing preserves.  And bbq.  Though the bbq in your state is different than the bbq in the next state because the next state doesn’t have real bbq.
  • Last names are popular first names.  (I wish we could do this!  But sadly, our family last names don’t go with a DC last name.)
  • Common first names have creative spellings.
  • Life’s a bit slower and calmer than it is up North or in the city.
  • People aren’t offended by the term “redneck.”
  • It’s so hot in the summer you wanna die as you melt your way from the air conditioned car to the air conditioned building.
  • Is it green?  Bread it and fry it, baby!  I mean darlin’.
  • Even breaded and fried, I still hate turnip greens.  And mustard greens.
  • Pecans vs. walnuts:  Pecans win!
  • Restaurants have signs up telling you whether or not you can bring in your concealed weapon.
  • Y’all start saying y’all because it’s so useful!  English needs that vosotros form.
  • Your (college-age) students ask you questions about birth control failure rates.  Honest to God, I should not be having to explain condoms to ANYBODY.  I hate you, abstinence-only.
  • A single snowflake magically causes all the grocery stores to run out of milk and bread.

Whatday’all got?

66 Responses to “You know you’re in the South when…”

  1. Everyday Tips Says:

    Up here in the north, it has become exceedingly popular for kids to put ‘Ms.’ in front of a first name, and for some reason, I hate it. I would rather just be called ‘Kris’ than ‘Ms. Kris’. Something about it just burns my ears. Kind of like how seeing people write ‘wierd’ burns my eyes. No logic, just makes me cringe.

    Pecans and peaches are all the rage as you get south. I prefer the cashew myself…

    My kids love when we go down south. They are just shocked with how nice everyone is. However, I often wonder if part of it is the accent. For instance, if someone said “you are dumb as rocks” in that wonderful southern accent, would it still not sound mean? I do think though that southerners seem much more laid back, patient and generally kinder than us folks in the north.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t like the “Ms. #2” construction because I would rather EITHER be just plain #2, or if they are going to use an honorific it had better be Dr.! Rather than Ms. I would take my first name, if they don’t want to use Dr.

      Of course, this is only in situations when Dr. would be appropriate. For example, I don’t care WHAT the people at the grocery store, bank, shops, credit card, etc., call me.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I like Miz Firstname better than Mrs. Lastname … (especially when one is not married! or it isn’t your husband’s last name they’re adding the Mrs. to…)

  2. Spanish Prof Says:

    When all the food at a wedding reception is fried.

  3. julier Says:

    Some days I really miss living in the South. Here are a few more for you:

    It’s nearly impossible to be a vegetarian because even the veggie dishes have meat in them – usually a hunk of either bacon or ham.

    “Tha’t’s nice” may actually mean “f**k you”

    The air-conditioning is so cold that it feels good to go outside and thaw out.

    Perfect strangers smile and wave when you’re out and about.

    People leave their cars running, and unattended, while they run inside to drop of their dry cleaning or pick up a few groceries.

    People only lock their doors during August, primarily because they are afraid someone will break in a leave a zucchini in their kitchens.

    Dogwood trees and azaleas are in full bloom in March while most of the rest of the country is still covered in snow.

  4. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Camo is the new black!

  5. GMP Says:

    “We’re married. We’re just professors.” “Ohhhhhhh.”


    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      It’s true though! It’s like there’s two towns… all the weird Northern transplants with their fancy degrees and the true locals.

      I believe she then said I didn’t look old enough to be a professor. I’m pretty sure I do now… that’s one reason I’m keeping the shocks of white I now have instead of getting highlights.

  6. bogart Says:


    A half-inch of snow shuts everything down. You are startled when you move north of the Mason-Dixon line and discover that this is not true up there (also that it turns out it actually is possible to remove snow from the roads — who knew?) and seeing a falling snowflake no longer prompts you to think, “Ah! An unexpected vacation day!” — unless of course you have school-aged children in which case you think either “Oh no! Unexpected parenting day!” or “Oh goody! Sledding with the kids!” depending on your situation and mood. If you have preschoolers and chose a home-based daycare setup, you think, “Woohoo! My kid’s daycare’s not closed!” when you know every other one in town is.

    If you get a vehicle stuck in the snow a man with a pickup will stop, unbidden, and pull it out for you.

    You can order a restaurant meal consisting of meat, starch, and veg, and it’s all brown. Possibly the same shade of brown (examples: fried anything + biscuit + potatoes or, if you want to branch out a bit color-wise, black-eyed peas or baked beans. Don’t forget the hushpuppies!).

    I’m a bit startled to learn, though, that you have to drive to the next state to get different bbq. Here it’s available intra-state.

    I’d actually recommend the book 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About The South by John Reed and Dale Volberg Reed if you’re really interested in this. It’s a surprisingly decent “read” for a coffee-table sort of book.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Well, given we were brought up on St. Louis style (which is all about the sticky gloppy sauce), it may be that we don’t truly appreciate the more subtle differences between barbeques.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Last time my car needed an emergency jump, the students who jumped it for me said they’d just done a road trip that summer visiting across the country in a broken-down old car. So their car broke down ALL over the country. They said people stopped fastest and were most helpful in the South.

  7. bogart Says:

    Mmmm. I love me some St. Louis-style ribs. But for my pulled pork, I’m all about the vinegar. Oh, there’s another — you get a choice! Would you like pulled pork, chopped pork, or sliced pork?

    Oh, I forgot another of my favorites: among the items listed under the header “Vegetables” on one of my favorite bbq place’s menus (as an example): deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese, cottage cheese . (Also, pasta salad, macaroni salad — but heck, those may include actual produce).

  8. Dirac Says:

    Some of these comments and points in the article are just moronic. Yes, several are normal observations but others reek of pretension. A vegetarian in the south…who cares? Vegetarians are mocked in Germany…so what. Most likely you are a typical, vegetarian and rather than just passing on a meat dish you have to make a point of saying ‘I am a vegetarian and cannot eat this item.’

    Last names…sorry, it is still the norm in the north to share a last name. Oh no, what will the elite think?

    People leaving their cars running for AC…wow, you certainly don’t live in the northeast if you think this is odd behavior.

    Seriously, did this post even need to be made? I am sorry for lashing out at everyone but I lived in the south and it is different but not because everyone was stupid. I had a quantum mechanics professor who had a drawl. He is smarter than everyone posting here but because of the accent, you would probably treat him like a hick.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Huh. You obviously missed our previous posts on the Midwest and California. I don’t see where you’re getting that we think people in the South are stupid. We haven’t done one on the Northeast or Pacific Northwest yet, but we will eventually, given that the two of us have lived all over this fair nation. (Except I think the Mid-Atlantic region, but I hope never to go to New Jersey again if I can help it.) There are cultural differences that as amateur anthropologists we find interesting. Different does not mean bad, though you seem to think it must.

      We also love our meat and are not vegetarians. However, it is true that vegetarians cannot eat side dishes in much of the South (as they tend to do when trying to be unobtrusive) because meat is often used to flavor them. In the North they use butter. I don’t see how that’s insulting anyone. Both bacon and butter are tasty. But vegetarians eat one and not the other. We respect people who have made the choice to be vegetarians for whatever reason, as we think everyone should (so long as they’re not preachy, and very few are after age 20 or so in our experience ).

      Feel free not to read our blog! It’s not monetized.

    • Frugal Forties Says:

      Wow. Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, didn’t they. I’m a Southerner and I thought all the items were spot on, humorous, and made me a bit homesick.

      • bogart Says:

        Amen to that (not sure where this will appear; I’m amen-ing Frugal Forties’ reply in case that is unclear)!

  9. Linda Says:

    We used to vacation in the south every year so I learned quite a bit about customs as a child. Plus I work with a lot of people in Nashville and have traveled there a lot over the years. So here goes:

    * in the South they know how to make cornbread; it should not be dessert-sweet as you’ll often find it in the North.

    * Biscuits are better: fluffy and fresh.

    * You can get grits at nearly every restaurant. (I like mine with just butter and salt. Mmmmmm)

    * It’s not only green things that are breaded and friend. In Nashville I was at a restaurant where they had breaded and fried lobster tail on the menu. Eww!

    * They don’t call it the Bible-belt for no reason. When any bad things happen people say they will pray for you. (I’m never sure how to take that; I appreciate the sentiment but I’m not religious.)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Huh, I’m intrigued by breaded and fried lobster tail. It’s got to be better than New England Lobster rolls…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t care if people pray for me; I guess it’s nice of them. But I’d rather have a casserole instead (or in addition). Something actually useful.

      • bogart Says:

        You do realize that down here you’re going to get both, right? Definitely not mutually exclusive!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I don’t think #2 has spent much time in the South. :) They don’t casserole it up here quite so much as they do in the Midwest though, not by a long-shot. Luckily there are plenty of Midwestern transplants who do. I think the difference is Southerners pray first then feed, whereas Midwesterners feed first then pray.

  10. First Gen American Says:

    I hate being called Miss Sandy. It seems the popular thing to do with my more religious friends up North as well.

    Driving in any kind of weather (even rain) is pretty scary in the south. When I lived in the carolinas, a pork truck tipped over and blocked the freeway for a day because of the rain.

    How bout this know you’re in the south when gravy is served for breakfast.

  11. MutantSupermodel Says:

    I don’t have anything awesome to add because even though I live about as far south as you can get in this country, I don’t live in the South. Which has always bewildered me…

  12. Cloud Says:

    You have just strengthened my resolve to take my (Kiwi) husband on a vacation in the south some day. He’s been to Florida, and that is just not the same. I keep telling him how different the different regions of the US are, but so far we haven’t really taken vacations that demonstrate that. Except our trip to Wichita for a wedding. He kept commenting on how weird it was that complete strangers kept coming us to tell us how cute our kids are. We agree, but we’re not used to being told so by complete strangers who are under the age of 70.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      HAHAHA. Yes, DC is SUCH a FLIRT because ze’s constantly being told how adorable ze is by strangers of all ages. I didn’t know they did that in Kansas.

      I love this country and all its differences. Except New Jersey.

      I am so itching to take my family to the redwood forests. I haven’t been since I was little and before he met me, DH had never left the state he grew up in. (Ze then went to college in a different region of the country, then graduate school in yet another region, and has done a nice amount of traveling since then. But I love going with him to new places he’s never been before and watching him experience the novelty, especially when he enjoys my favorite things. I like it when he shows me new things too.)

      • Cloud Says:

        Our upcoming intra-CA family vacation will include a stop in Sequoia National Park! We’ll do the redwoods some other time… but still- big trees!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Also awesome! Man I wish we lived in CA! All the places I want to go are less expensive to get to from there than from here. Summer time around here sucks. Winter is awesome, but there’s not enough break in the winter.

      • Cloud Says:

        Yeah, it is an awesome place to live. I occasionally get all whiny about the size of my mortgage or the utter collapse of leadership on display in my state legislature. But then I do something like go for a run by the bay, and realize that I can basically do that year round, in the same attire, without risking heat stroke or frostbite. And I shut up and count myself lucky.

        When my husband first moved here, just the sight of a street with a line of palm trees made him happy. Since we lived on such a street, he was pretty happy. That’s worn off now. (But he’s still a pretty happy guy.)

  13. Frugal Forties Says:

    Everyone from the waitress at the diner to the bank teller to your doctor calls you “sweetie” or “honey” or “darlin” or “babydoll” or some endearment. It’s not patronizing or rude – it just is.

    “Bless her heart” is one of my favorite phrases – it contains such a wealth of meaning!

    Grits. ‘Nuff said.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, I like being called honey and sweetie and Darlin’ by the right people. In the Midwest if the person saying it isn’t over 60 or a waitress, then being called that means you just said something DUMB.

  14. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    Pecans vs. walnuts: Pecans win!

    Wait! You mean pecans and walnuts are different nuttes?? I always thought they were just two different words for the same f*cken nutte.

    (And BTW, DO NOT F*CKE WITH JERSEY. I have some associates in Jersey who can be very persuasive, and I don’t think you want to have to talk to them. Capisce?)

  15. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    EWR is te best f*cken airport! F*cke all you f*ckers!

  16. Spanish Prof Says:

    Re Fried cookie dough… Jacksonville, Florida, site of the best used bookstore I’ve ever found in the South east of Atlanta.

  17. notofgeneralinterest1 Says:

    Have not traveled much in the South (conferences and transferring flights through Atlanta don’t count) but these lists of differences are great!

  18. notofgeneralinterest1 Says:

    P. S. Always pecans, never walnuts.

  19. Z Says:

    Sausage biscuits.

  20. pvcccourses Says:

    breaded & fried turnip greens? eek.

    I remember most of all grits with everything. Grits in the morning, grits at noon, grits at dinner. Mind-bogglingly salty ham and utterly deadly pecan pie.

  21. Kalyn Says:

    I’m from Eunice la, I though all of this was normal. It’s funny how people freak out about the stuff we all do here.

  22. 2012 in review « Grumpy rumblings of the half-tenured Says:

    […] You know you’re in the South when… 58 comments July […]

  23. L Says:

    Late to this party, but as a Damn Yankee (came South and stayed) I find most intriguing the fact that Macaroni and Cheese is ALWAYS classed as a vegetable here . . .

  24. Beth Thompson Says:

    The phrase “No bigger than an minute” is used to describe a skinny person, “Long legged Anna” is used to describe a tall woman, and you will have someone in your family named “Bubba.”

    Oh, And we have more ways of using bacon in our food than uses for WD-40 and Duct Tape. :)

  25. Yat In Exile Says:

    People say “SEC” and they’re not talking about the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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