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sugar and southern spice

June 17, 2014

sweetteaIn the South, we’re known for many things. Ask for tea, it comes on ice, and with sugar. It’s hot in the summer. We say “y’all,” which means “all you people.” “All y’all’s” is possessive, and it refers to something (or things) belonging to all y’all. “I picked up all y’all’s towels at the pool.” It doesn’t get very cold here, and when it does, we freak out if school isn’t cancelled. If it snows, everything shuts down. Seriously. You can eat at Waffle House, because it never closes, but don’t expect the trash service to run. We’re nice. Well, we try to be, anyway. Or maybe we try to seem nice.
Once on a group email, the messages went back and forth regarding change in the group. Half wanted new things, and the other half wanted to leave it as it was. We were having a seemingly fine conversation, with suggestions for change and reminders of why it should remain. After a few backs and forths, someone piped in and reminded everyone to be nice. What? I thought it was a pleasant discussion. Discussion does not equal argument. Opinion doesn’t mean anger. Sorry if it hurts your feelings when we don’t all agree with you, darlin’.
Talking to a friend today, she told me she hates upsetting people. No one loves it, dearheart. There’s a difference between squashing someone’s hopes and dreams and telling them it’s irritating when they repeatedly cancel appointments. We do that, though. I find that, with age, I’m much less likely to try and ruffle feathers. Is it that we can let it go more easily? Do we care less? Life’s too short to fight about it all, but I’d rather not be a doormat, either. It’s tricky.
We wouldn’t dare complain about someone in public. All complaining and gossiping is done in The Trust Tree. Never been in a Trust Tree? Sure you have. You just might not’ve known its name. “This is between you and me,” is an invitation to the Trust Tree. The Trust Tree is where nice people go, with friends and hushed tones, to be themselves. Ok. I take that back a little. The Trust Tree can also be a place for sharing family secrets that include anything besides white picket fences and sweet tea. They serve bourbon in The Trust Tree. The Trust Tree is a very busy place.
All rules go out the window, if you sass our Mama or pick on our kids. You may never hear us cuss (well, you’ll hear me cuss), and Bless Your Heart means you probably don’t really want to know. There’s always a nice way of saying it, sweetie, even if you don’t feel all that nice about it.
If this makes us sound catty, I’m sorry. We do love you. We’ll pray for you on any occasion. We very rarely show up without an iced cooler full of beer. We may say, “hey y’all! How are ya?” as more of a reflex than a question, but we’ll come running with a casserole every day if needed. If the obituaries tell us your great aunt Glad died, you’ll at least get a pound cake.
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. With many exceptions. When in doubt, climb the Trust Tree, and pour wine. Sweet tea will occasionally suffice. Cheers, y’all!

*originally published in the Metro Spirit, Augusta, GA 6/12/14

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