Gravel Gertie Explains Being Southern!

For the past couple of months, non-Southerners have been asking me questions about the strange things we Southerners do.

Whether we're farming our dirt, racin' our rebuilt heaps, and fluffing out our big hair, we're proud! Now get the heck out of our pork rinds!

Read on and get educated!

Dear Gertie,

What's the deal with bacon grease? Who eats bacon anyway? I don't get it.

Nancy in New York

Dear Nancy, bacon grease is a gift from God Himself. The uses for bacon grease are unlimited. You can use it to fry okra, season beans, fry taters, flavor stews, make sawmill gravy, season cornbread, make a dressing, and many other things. As far as who eats bacon, I have to admit that I'm not a big bacon eater, but it's mandatory that I fry up a pound or two for Sunday breakfast just so that I can have my glorious bacon drippings. Bacon is a great topping for potatoes, salad, sandwiches, nachos, and French fries. Yup, bacon and its drippings are fattening, but a little will go a long way! And if you don't get it by now, you never will, bubba.

My Daddy told me that when he was a pup, a show of prestige was how much lard you had rendered, so having bacon grease ain't just good taste, it's a status symbol. Click here for more on bacon grease.

Dear Gertie,

Why do Southerners always say y'all instead of you?

Ned from Nantucket

Dear Ned, when we are talking one-on-one, kinda like now, we use "you" because it is in the singular form. Using "you" in the plural form seems like bad manners to us, so that's why we say "y'all," short for "you all." We don't want anyone to feel left out.

Gert,

Why do Southerners have couches on their front porches?

Ina from Illinois

Hi Ina! Most of the time when I can afford a new couch, I hate to part with my old one. Lots of memories were made on that blue faux naugahyde, so many times we just put it on the front porch. We spend a lot of time on our front porches jawing with our neighbors, so why not be comfortable?

Dear Gertie,

Why do Southerners like to fry everything?

Frank in Lincoln

Hey Frank! We don't like to fry everything, but many things are better fried. Frying vegetables is quick and cheap (especially if you recycle the grease) and that's why we prefer this cooking method. Fried pickles, donuts, taters, onion rings, and okra are awesome!

Gert,

I don't understand the prevalence of abandoned appliances and vehicles in Southern yards. Why?

Eliot from Nevada

Dear Eliot, our broken down appliances and vehicles clutter our domains for usually one reason: we might just get it working again someday. There's always hope. 90% of us are poorer than church mice and it just tears us up to part with anything that cost more that $10. If the washing machine stopped spinning, then I'll betcha Uncle Hubert could fix it (after it sit on his porch for a month or year or two).

I reckon that's where our interest in CAT, NASCAR, and feed and grain co-ops come in too. Not having much cash to buy cars, we'd fix the old heap that Granny Early left to us -- parts are cheap when you pull them off of other heaps.

We are a proud people, we expect to work hard to earn our pay. We want to stretch our budget so we reuse everything from pantyhose (to wrap our Vidalia onions in down in the cellar or to filter the dryer) to tin foil (to wrap our stove eyes in). We eat pork because we use and reuse purt-near every part of the pig (except for the hair and eyeballs) -- well, we used to. Nowadays, many younger Southerners just buy fat back and packaged barbecue.

Dear Gertie,

Do Southerners really marry their cousins?

Jane from Jamestown

Dear Jane, we Southerners have some strange idiosyncrasies down here, I admit. Many years ago, some of us were known to marry our cousin. Why? A long time ago, the only folks that lived close by were family; there was slim pickin's, so to speak. Look at those Brits! Ya can't tell me there wasn't any inbreeding there. Charles and his momma look just like their relatives from hundreds of years ago -- ugly and pointy noses and everything. I reckon some folks ain't much for pollutin' the gene pool, or havin' a family tree that don't branch too often.

Dear Gertie,

Why do Southerner women have big hair?

Karen from Kalamazoo

Dear Karen, big hair is our birthright. We use our hair to attract (and keep) males -- kinda like a peacock. The humidity down here most of the year is 110%, so we take great pains to preserve and enhance our coiffures. Teasing, gelling, and spraying our hair so that it stands up about a foot above our heads ensures that our date/spouse can find us in a crowd (like a football stadium, picnic, mall, or tent revival).

Dear Gert,

Why do Southerners love car racing?

Amber from Ohio

Hi Amber! Racing is gaining in popularity all over, sugar! It ain't a Southern thang any more. Sure it's popular here, but other folks are beginning to follow this sport. Racing started here in the South when the whiskey bootleggers would out run the law in their rebuilt Chevys. I know I come from a family of Tennessee bootleggers. Hell far, ya gotta make a livin' to feed the babies.

Dear Gertie,

Why are Southerners portrayed as rednecks?

William from Wetumpka

Hey William, I do have to say that I don't like that stereotype. The term redneck comes from when the poor folk worked in the fields as laborers while the blue bloods stayed inside and counted their gold bars and drank their whiskey "neat." Since the laborers wore blue jeans and had a tan, they were made fun of because of what they represented: dirt farmers. Have you noticed how popular it is to have a tan and wear jeans nowadays? J

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Revised - 10/05/00
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