Northern gals of a certain age were brought up with many of these strict values that are both illogical and difficult to shed. Totally shocking however is the fact that Byrd would wear black to a wedding. This gal of a certain age was taught not to wear black to a wedding because it indicates you are unhappy and equate the wedding with a funeral - -growing up, the only women I'd seen wearing black at weddings were widows, who never wore anything else.
Miss Hildreth Wore Brown is both a collection of stories about charmingly eccentric Southerners — mostly ladies — and a compilation of rants, mostly involving driving and children. Byrd discusses the things that are utmost priorities in her life — shoes, clothing, hair — and shares some of her experiences and fears concerning them.
She also tells us the three things a proper Southern female never discusses — sex, bodily functions, and money. My mother was from Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, yet she and her sister were very firm on those taboos (as well as religion and politics). To this day there are certain words describing bodily functions that I will not say — just thinking them makes me queasy.
As captivating as the stories in Miss Hildreth Wore Brown are, they do tend to reinforce some stereotypes, particularly the one about Southern women who are airheads only caring about the way they look and a collection of outdated social mores. I’m not sure what the Southern stereotype of Northern women is, but I know it involves volume and rudeness. However, anyone who has been to a football game in the South, whether it’s LSU or the local high school, can attest to the boorishness some of the ladies display.
Byrd wisely avoids sports, and shares stories about shopping, special occasions, weddings, funerals, travel, Ivana Trump, and asparagus. Children, husbands, coffee, Robert Redford, beauty pageants, and Victoria’s Secret all show up on the pages of Miss Hildreth Wore Brown, accompanied by humorous details of Byrd’s dealings with them.
If you are a Southerner, you will enjoy the memories these stories evoke; if you’re a Northerner you will learn what some Southerners think of you, and it’s not always pretty. Personally, I know the difference between the North and the South. It’s shopping. The North offers more variety; the South offers better bargains.