Although I have only lived in South Carolina for just over 20 days it has given me enough time to observe the way of life and culture down here. While I have said more than once that in general people are people wherever you go, different regions do have certain personalities, brands, and quirks. For tonight’s blog post I want to briefly describe five things that are distinctively southern and five things that are distinctively western.
Accents: When I watched movies with southern characters I used to think they purposely exaggerated the accents. They didn’t. Southern people speak with an accent, some more than others, but I love the sound of it. There are certain words that sound absolutely awesome when rolled off the tongue of a southern person.
Phrases: With the accents come the phrases too. The word “ya’ll” isn’t a stereotype of the southern language, it is a word near and dear down here that is used constantly. For the most part everything is “Yes Sir” and “Yes Ma’am.” Many women will address people with words such as “hun,” “baby,” or “darling.” The word “Coke” is a catch-all term for any type of drink. Give me three more weeks and I will have another list of terms to rattle off for you.
Food: I would say food is a big difference for me coming from the west. Seafood is king down here, especially in the area I am living. In the past week I have tried grits, hush puppies, and sweet tea. The south is famous for BBQ and so predictably there are a lot of restaurants specializing in it. Surprisingly I have also noticed that there are many mom and pop wing places down here. I am embarrassed to admit that I haven’t dined at any of these local places but have managed to visit Buffalo Wild Wings twice. As I mentioned in a previous post, you will find alligator on some menus.
Corn Hole: It took me my first full day in Myrtle Beach to realize how popular corn hole is out here. For my western friends asking what corn hole is just think of a bean bag toss type game. You will find people playing this on the beach, in pool areas, at bars, or at any social event. When I attended the Finals Frenzy night at CCU I watched as two teams almost ended up brawling with each other because their corn hole match got so heated. This game is not for the faint of heart.
Mt. Dew and Peanuts: Today I was walking to lunch with our media relations and publications editor and he filled me in on one of his favorite drinks. Explaining his concoction he told me he will occasionally take a bottle of Mt. Dew and pour a pack of peanuts (shell off) into it…and then drink it! I posted this very unique recipe on Twitter and received a few responses back telling me that this is a completely southern thing. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have thought to mix something like that up.
Coffee Shops: The other day at lunch I had to explain to our director of news and public affairs about the millions of independently owned drive up coffee stands that line the streets in the western states. With my boss helping me out, we explained the size of such a stand by comparing it to an ice shack here in the area (yes, in South Carolina they offer places you go just to pick up ice). I explained how people develop loyalties to such stands and how many of these places now operate under themes such as baristas in bikinis or baristas dressed in zombie makeup. You definitely don’t find Java Huts or the Daily Grind down here.
Annunciation: My friend Sidney and I talked about her southern accent for a few minutes. I then asked if I sounded different to her. She said I did sound different because of the fact that I didn’t have an accent. She said I annunciated my words almost to a fault. That is pretty much the consensus from southerners on how westerners talk.
Cold Weather/Snow: Just like I have very little idea of how bad the humidity will impact me down here, southerners don’t know too much about the bitter cold we face out west. When I tell people that I left Montana when there was still snow on the ground their jaws drop. When I follow it up by telling them that Missoula saw snow just this month their jaws drop even further. I don’t really even get into the negative twenty below temperatures we “enjoyed” this past winter. I just say that the south beats the west when it comes to weather.
More Health Conscious: I could probably put Missoula up against any place in the nation when it comes to the importance of fitness and love of the outdoors so the south doesn’t need to feel bad that I am putting the west ahead of it when it comes to the role of exercise in everyday life. You don’t see people running, riding bikes, walking dogs, and hiking down here like you do in the west. You don’t see the elaborate organic and healthy eating displays either. When I enrolled in my benefits package I was told premiums were higher than back where I am from simply because I now live in an area that specializes in the production and consumption of the tastiest (and not low-fat) food you will find anywhere.
Grocery Stores: I could have used this point under the south heading too but the west category needed one more so here it is. Co-workers asked me what grocery stores I shopped at out west. After I threw out the names of Albertson’s, Rosauers, and Safeway they looked at me with blank stares. You won’t see any one of those down here. Rather the main players are Food Lion, Piggly Wiggly, and Kroger.
Definitely some changes to get used to but nothing to rattle me too much. In fact, all of these differences just make this new adventure in my life even more fun. I love experiencing new things and life in the south has provided me with that. However, despite what people tell me, I am 99.9% sure I will never develop a southern accent. Don’t Blink.