Geraldine Ferraro once made the claim on national television that only in the northeast could real genius be found. Remembering this recently, I began listening and watching the things going on around me here in the south even closer than I usually do.
Of course, I already knew that if one is not very careful, his southern speech can often make him sound not much above an idiot, but I also resented the heck out of Ferraro’s assumption.
So…I decided to try a little experiment on myself. One morning I decided to record my conversations just to see how many “southern” expressions I used on a given day. Before 10:00 that morning I had two sweethearts, three darlin’s, a bless your heart, and a couple of sweetie pies!
For the next week I worked to clean it up, you know, be as dry and boring as a northerner! This worked fairly well until I needed to make a trip to a large department store. While there, an elderly gentlemen approached me.
“Excuse me, I just wanted to tell you that I’ve been watching you shop and you’re wearing the cutest outfit I’ve ever seen.”
Now at this point I could have said several things.
“Thank you very much.”
“It’s so nice of you to say that.”
“Get your hand off of my shoulder.”
But, did I say any of the above in my quest to appear as bright as those northeasterners? I did not. What did I say?
“Why, Bless Your Heart!”
The smile on the old man’s face told me I had said it just right, and Geraldine be danged!
P.S. After I finished this article I heard a fellow Texan say something that made my southern jargon sound brilliant. When asked if he knew someone, the old rancher replied, “We’ve waved, but we ain’t howdy’d yet.”
I’m pretty sure that is Texan for I know who he is, but we haven’t actually met yet!