Q: What do you call a northerner who visits the south?
A: A Yankee
Q: What do you call a northerner who visits the south and stays?
A: A damn Yankee.
That joke loses its hilarity about the 10,000th time a Yankee hears it. I moved from the Northeast to the Deep South ten years ago. Apparently everyone in Baton Rouge thinks that he or she will be the first person to tell this joke to a Yankee transplant. This could be the basis of the motto I wrote for that city, “Baton Rouge — where Southern hospitality is a thing of the past.”
I had misconceptions and stereotypical views of Louisiana when I moved down there. I confessed to one gentleman that the only things I knew about the state were Mardi Gras and malaria (I had seen Jezebel). His response: “My father had malaria.” Okay, so maybe it wasn’t such a misconception…
So, as tragic as Hurricane Katrina was for a lot of Gulf Coast residents, it did me the favor of moving me out of the Deep South and into the Moderate South. Woo-hoo, as they say. I actually love the South, although I still don’t understand why Louisianans think the Civil War is still being fought, and they’re winning. It’s a “Southern thing,” y’all.
Olivia deBelle Byrd, bless her heart, explains and elaborates on a lot of Southern things in Miss Hildreth Wore Brown, a collection of anecdotes detailing what it’s like to be a certain kind of lady in the South. “Certain kind” because there really are a lot of different types of women in the South, just like the North. Hardly any of them are wearing hoop skirts, sitting on plantation porches, and sipping mint juleps. Hardly any.
One of the surprises in Miss Hildreth Wore Brown is the number of trips the author has taken to New York and Boston. Despite her visits, she doesn’t realize that some of the things she claims as Southern are true all across the USA. For example, she writes of never wearing white to a wedding, a funeral, or after Labor Day (and for those unfamiliar with these fashion faux pas, white season begins on Memorial Day and runs through Labor Day. That’s why you see so many pairs of white capris and sandals on those two holidays).