After living in denial for about a decade, I have finally come to accept that I am, in fact, one of those species known as a southern woman.
This has not been an easy path. I have tried desperately to pursue other roads : Grunge, Euro-trash, Australian (apologies to those who were with me on THAT road), but to no avail. The childhood videotapes do not lie. I did, and still do, say INsurance and not inSURance. And unfortunately I have to say that word a lot to Yankees. Who point it out.
I appreciate the recent observation from a fine man that I, like characters in many great films, have risen up from my southern roots to become a refined professional woman. Like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Although I hold this fine man in high esteem, he seems to ignore the fact that I am hardly a refined professional and I'm pretty sure I was never a prostitute. But I guess I appreciate the sentiment nonetheless.
When I was growing up, I loathed the thought of becoming just another girl who wanted the boy, the big house and the baby. I loathed it so much I even started loathing the people who did want it, including some of my closest friends. Nothing chilled my heart more than yet another friend getting married or pregnant before the age of 18. Oddly, although they would be living with their parents for years, many of them saw this as a bonus. Probably because their parents had big houses and that rounded out the three lifetime achievements.
I'm a little ashamed about how haughty I've been. There's a part of me that wants to understand how happiness can consist of episodes of Top Model and dishes made from canned foods that have no nutritional value whatsoever. There's a part of me that would just like to step into the mind of the average family woman of my age rearing children and trying not to notice how the years are flying by and they still haven't taken a vacation anywhere other than Myrtle Beach. But I can't. I did, just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, hoist myself up by my bootstraps, move on to bigger things and make a big fat success of myself. And NOT by sleeping with men for money.
But I am, at heart, a southern girl. I love the country with its neverending tobacco fields. I love bluegrass music, I love cookouts and boat rides and the way people who don't even know you call you pet names like "sweety" and "honey". I was in 4-H, and know how to help birth a calf. One of my best friends in high school had an old slave graveyard in her backyard. I know that the only tomatoes worth eating are those from a neighborhood garden. I grew up on SunTea and SunDrop. And I never go anywhere without brightly colored clothing during hunting season.
What's separated me from admitting my southernness has been a hesitation to admit that at one point I may actually want to settle down and have a family of my own. Okay, now I can admit that. Step one.
However, the bigger part of me that shys away from admitting to being a typical southern female probably has to do with the fact that they adore tragic situations and they adore praying. I do not love drama or praying. Actually, that is untrue - I probably do love drama on a subconscious level since I am always getting myself into situations that cause undue drama, but that's actually not my intention. That's just psychopathy.
I am not the type of person that sucks up people's misery with a shade of schadenfreude that borders on glee. I will never forget my sixth grade year when not one but TWO boys who sat next to me in class died and the girls in my class, probably like their mamas, were just falling all over each other to tell me the news. They could hardly contain themselves. It was truly disgusting. And the worst was they asked me to pray with them. I wanted to tell them I had already gone through the whole child death thing a couple of times, and so I know that praying does fuck-all.
These days, I like to live a secret life poised on the edge of tragedy, but I do not want to tip over because then I'll have to hear the dreaded words "I'll pray for you."
You'll PRAY for me?? Wow, thanks. How about giving me some money instead? Or better yet, develop super bionic powers to keep my child from almost drowning but now being permanently handicapped, my boyfriend from beating me, my son from becoming an addict, my daughter from being pregnant and my cable from going out. I'm sure prayer is going to stop the cancer from growing, the fibromyalgia from aching, and the hairdresser from picking out the wrong shade of blonde.
All this praying is taking up too much time while doing too little. I know. I've prayed, I think. At least I've closed my eyes and thought about God for awhile. Mostly what he'd look like dressed as a woman, but I'm sure that counts. In the end, I got the feeling that I had done something about as useful as making a wish before blowing the fluff off of the dandelion. And most of my prayers for other people have never really worked out, because well, they're just words. And I feel bad because it's like I've instilled a false hope or something.
But at the core I'm still southern. And when, like today, I learn of some crap roll of the destiny dice landing on a good friend, I do what a good southern girl always does. I sign the card "You're in my prayers."
And then lie my head on the table and sigh.