Sunday, September 18, 2011
South Carolina Report
A South Carolinian will say "Bless your heart," when what she means is "You disgust me." They say things such as "I'm fiddin' to carry Mama to the church suppah and fixer a plate to carry home. She ain't upta stayin', bless her heart. I swan that woman can pitch a fit! S'about to get on my last nerve, Hon." That bit of conversation would take about twelve minutes.
What they call "tea" here is a syrupy sweet iced beverage that will rot your teeth within three minutes of drinking it. One would assume dentists could make a lot of money here, but evidently, they don't.
I live in the Upstate, which is actually the northwest corner of the state. Due West, SC is southeast of here. Central is in the very northwest corner of the state and Centerville is in the northeast corner. West Union is 80 miles as the crow flies west of Union. With the very same crow flying, Ten Mile is about 211 miles from Six Mile.
North Carolina is to our north. The only thing that separates South Carolina from Alabama is Georgia, a fact which scares me a lot. The state has magnificent beaches, a touch of mountains and an historic ancient swampland.
Flora and Fauna
South Carolina is the Palmetto State. Palmettos are palm trees that are neither tall nor pretty. While there are cute little lizards called skinks that are sometimes electric blue, there are also little scorpions, fire ants and crunchy grass, which makes going barefoot rather dangerous. The state also has bamboo, cacti and a great diversity of hard and soft wood trees. There used to be a lot of cotton grown here, but that was before. . . you know. . . and everything was ruined. I'm not sure why they don't start cropping and milling bamboo instead of trying to get rid of it, but I think it's because it might interrupt the pouting over. . . . you know.
The plants and wildlife are plentiful and diverse which is amazing since things have to grow in red clay instead of black dirt.
Religion here is quite diverse as well. There are White Baptists, White Southern Baptists, White Pentacostals, White Independent Baptists, Black Baptists, Black Southern Baptists, Black Pentacostals, Black Independent Baptists, and two Greek Orthodox Churches that throw a good festival each fall.
A lot of hunting and fishing goes on in South Carolina. People are especially encouraged to hunt wild boars, which are dangerous, nasty, invasive critters set on taking vengeance on human kind for every hog factory in the country. South Carolinians invented shagging. No, not that. . . . the dance. Mostly people go to their church picnics, potlucks, revivals, and Bible study groups if they are not drinking, watching football or shagging.
South Carolina has hurricanes and heat. Plenty of both. Three of the four seasons here are summer and winter lasts 2 weeks. South Carolinians sweat more than the average annual rainfall in New Hampshire. Even Southern Ladies sweat, though it is referred to as glowing.
Generally this is something that South Carolinians like to handle themselves. I'm not 100% certain, but I think it's illegal to have a house without at least one gun. It's also highly recommended that pickup trucks and cars be equipped with a small gun that will fit handily in the glove compartment. Vehicles usually come with a confederate flag on them somewhere. Socially liberal drivers may add a bumper sticker that says, "It's Heritage, not Hate."
The state vegetable is collard greens. (Note to Yankees: collard, not colored.) These are large, dense, dark green leaves that are wonderful sauteed in some olive oil with garlic and green onion, but any South Carolinian will tell you that is not the way it's done. Here they boil any flavor out of them with some fat back and sugar. They also boil peanuts here. I have no idea why. The average Sunday supper is something like fried pork chops, fried okra, mashed potatoes and gravy, grits and gravy, macaroni and cheese and sweet tea. If you're lucky some sweet potato pie. 30.9% of adult South Carolinians are obese.
South Carolina was the first proud state to secede from the Union when ruthless Yankees laid siege to Fort Sumter. This Southern whooping of Yankee butt led to the War of Northern Aggression, sometimes referred to as That Recent Unpleasantness. If you don't drawl, you refer to it here as. . . you know.
People here generally don't know that the Civil War is over or that the North won. Of course, the state is ranked 48th in high school graduation rate, so perhaps most people don't actually get to take a history class.
The Big Question
It's a free country, contrary to some local beliefs, and I could choose to live elsewhere. After all, the difference between a Yankee and a Damn Yankee is that Damn Yankees move here.
Despite my obvious distaste for much of South Carolina - and please note I didn't even touch on politics - I've met some nice folk down heah. Of course, if this blog gets read by many here, I'm sure I'll have offers to be escorted to the Mason-Dixon Line. My co-workers are gracious, patient people who usually tolerate my Yankeeness. I love my little house in the woods, the flowers and birds, the ocean and the tiny bit of the Appalachian range that dips into the state. I love the real, honest hospitality I've received when visiting a few churches. And now that I speak fluent Southern, I enjoy the impromptu conversations with total strangers. Jesus help me, I've even learned to love cheesy grits.
Will I stay here forever? The thought makes me about as comfortable as a long-tailed cat on a porch full of rockers. But I sho nuff ain't gettin' any youngah, so who knows? Bless my heart.