Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rules in the South

Loved this recent article from Country Outfitter about rules in the South!  I added my $.02 after each one.

There are rules upon rules in the South. Some spoken and some unspoken. It can be hard to keep up with all of them, and depending on where you live in the South (ahem, Mississippi), you might adhere to some rules more than others. Here’s a list of some old school Southern rules you may not know or have forgotten.
1. Miracle Whip is tacky. Only Yankees eat it.
If you’re going to make chicken salad for a luncheon, you might want to avoid the Miracle Whip if you’re in the South. While this unspoken rule is fading out of relevancy, it’s one many Southerners espoused a couple generations ago. I’d never heard this rule till recently. I blame that on the fact that I’m one-fourth Yankee since my grandmother grew up in the North. Gramma may not have been born here, but as the saying goes, she got here as fast as she could.  Why would anyone buy Miracle Whip?  I agree, it's tacky!
2. Never reply to a formal invitation in anything other than black ink.
I know it’s tempting to pull out the 24-pack of multi-colored gel pens you bought at Target to reply to that wedding invitation of your younger cousin, but please don’t. Just because you’re relieved she’s not going to be an old maid (since she’ll be 23 next year) doesn’t mean you can throw etiquette out the window. She probably would’ve told your grandmother anyway. Save yourself that phone call.  Number one rule:  R.s.v.p.  and do it correctly.   Correspondence etiquette is important y'all!
3. Don’t dress your baby in anything other than pastels for the first year.
Babies should look like babies, so avoid solid bright colors and stick with the light blue or light pink, depending on gender. If I’m honest, I don’t adhere to this one with my own kids. I think I have an aversion to pastels, but this one is still good to know for situational purposes. If I didn’t know it, I might buy my best friend (who has deep Mississippi roots) a bright red and blue Ole Miss onesie for her baby shower this month. She’d act pleasantly surprised and thank me (after all I crossed football lines since I’m an Arkansas Razorback fan and she’s an Ole Miss fan). Inwardly, though, she’d make a mental note to take it back and get something hand-smocked and, preferably, something monogrammed with her baby’s initials.  Yes ma'am, there is a dress code for infants!
Side note: She might keep a bright red and blue onesie if it had the traditional mascot, Colonel Reb. It’s hard to find anything with the traditional mascot ever since the black bear replaced Colonel Reb in 2010.
4. When approaching a door at the same speed as another person, it’s polite to step back and let the other person go first.
Men give deference to women with this one, and younger people stand back for older people. However, if two people of the same age and gender are walking towards a door at the same speed, this rule could cause a politeness standoff with neither party wanting to be rude to the other. Time to stick your boots in the ground, make that other person go first. Always win a politeness war. Always.  I wish more people would follow this rule!  Remember to say "Thank you" when someone lets you go first.
5. Younger people should stand up when older people enter a room.
I can’t say I’ve always stood up when my grandparents left the kitchen and joined me in the living room. But, I’ll say this. If my Grandaddy ever asked me to stand when he entered the room, I’d do it. He fought for our country in World War II, raised three kids on a cotton farm, learned to fly an airplane after his kids were raised and makes his own fishing jigs. For all that and so much else, he has all my respect.  Please teach your children to respect their elders.
6. When walking as a couple, the man should always walk between his woman and the street.
This one probably has its history in days of old when the man would walk on the side closest to the street, protecting his woman from getting muddied by passing buggies or hit by vehicles. This rule has probably been lost with the invention of the sidewalk. Now, perhaps these days as the genteel Southern belle spirit is fading away a lot of men don’t want to put themselves between traffic and an angry woman. Do you remember the Dixie Chicks song “Goodbye Earl?” Yeah, it’s just not safe anymore.  You can always tell when a man has been raised right...he walks closest to the street when he is with a lady.
7. Chewing gum in public is tacky.
Keep the Bubblicious at home. Chewing gum is especially rude at business meetings, church, school, or really anyplace where someone might see you. Cows chew the cud, not good Southerners.  If you are chewing gum, you better be underneath the bed with the bedroom door locked!
8. Southern women don’t gossip.
If you are going to talk about someone’s less desirable traits, always precede your remarks with “bless her heart” then you can pretty much say what you want. For example, you might say, “Bless her heart, her Mama never taught her not to chew gum in public.”  I'm okay with this, but just make sure you are not making fun of people when you say "Bless her heart!"
9. Men should take their hats off when they come inside
Taking your hat off is a good personal hygiene rule. This one I get. Southern men love their hats, and when you wear your hat every day in the Southern heat, it tends to get sweaty and smelly. I kid you not; my husband has worn the same hat for the last 15 years. His sister gave it to him in high school, and he wears it all the time. My 3-year-old calls it “Daddy’s stinky hat.” I’m fine with him only wearing it outside.  Yes sir!
10. Wait until everyone is served before eating
Our family’s rule growing up was similar to this. We had to wait until after the prayer before we could serve ourselves each other. The five of us kids waited like ravenous wolves to hear that “amen” before digging in. It felt like a matter of survival with that many kids. We were just too unruly; bless my Mama’s heart.  Proper dining etiquette dictates that you not touch a thing on the table until the host/hostess {parents} are seated.  At that time, your napkin is placed onto your lap.  Once the host/hostess begins to eat, so may everyone else.


Lauren T said...

Love it! My husband and I were driving through Augusta yesterday on the way home from vacation in Charleston and I thought of your new house--hope you are enjoying it!

Renaissance Teacher said...

I was raised with all these rules except the one about baby attire. I think that one may be a bit off as every Southern mama I know dresses her little darlings very fashionably with all kinds of colors...especially their little girls. Rule #1 ~ absolutely! I think my grandmamma would be rolling over in her grave if Miracle Whip were to ever cross the threshold of my house. And don't think people won't know ~ the Southern belles of my acquaintance can taste the difference. :)

Alison said...

I'd settle for folks remembering to say "please" and "thank you". Its tough being Old School, isn't it.


A Southern Preppy said...

My daddy liked Miracle Whip, and my mother never could understand why. I'm a hardcore Duke's fan. Love the rules!

A Southern Preppy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Bolling said...

Miss Janice, I love these rules. Although, I was brought up to know and understand each one, I would love to have a copy posted in my house.
When I married, my husband had two children from his first marriage. Those two had not been taught properly. It nearly drove me mad. The one that got to me most, and still does is that they do not wait until everyone is seated to begin eating. I can still be putting dishes on the table and they are already eating. They usually finish before I can get started and then, they get up and leave the table. It is maddening, I tell you. And, to make matters worse, they are adults now with children of thier own. My husband and I have a son together, and I have the pleasure of teaching him to be a Southern Gentleman. He is 13 years old and doing quite well in the manners department.
Thank you for sharing this post. I am sorry my reply is so lengthy.

Carolyn said...


Miss Janice said...

Still in Florida. Will be back in Georgia next week:)

Miss Janice said...

I know a lot of people don't follow the baby rule. :)

Miss Janice said...

Not easy sometimes...lots of rules!

Miss Janice said...

Love Duke's!

Miss Janice said...

Good luck with trying to train the young adults! Not an easy task.

Miss Janice said...

Yes ma'am!

AngelaV said...

I agree with all except I did dress my babies in colors other than pastel except for black. And it's Duke's mayo all the way! Miracle Whip is awful!

Unknown said...

I live by each Southern Rule. Thumbs down on Miracle Whip

Yankee Implant said...

Maybe somewhere in the South there are women who don't gossip, but as a non-gossiping Yankee implant, this is one thing I don't like about the Southern culture.