I had always kind of thought of Virginia as a southern state. Except for NoVa, of course, which from all appearances cut ties with the rest of the state decades ago. NoVa went corporate, the rest of Virginia went south. It did secede from the Union, after all, and in most parts of the state it’s only about half a mile to the nearest statue of Robert E. Lee. They grow peanuts and tobacco. Sounds southern to me.
Then I moved to South Carolina. Now, South Carolina is not the deepest of the Deep South: even as an outsider I know that. But as soon as I found out that my neighbor hunted squirrels…in the backyard…well, I started to worry about what I’d gotten myself into. And there’s definitely plenty of southern culture to adjust to.
Like the fact that the nearest grocery store is the Bi-Lo two towns over, nine miles away. And the fact that there is one (count ‘em, one!) sit-down restaurant in my town and it’s closed when school isn’t in session. And the fact that the town hall is right next to a place called Sassy Butts. A BBQ bakery (whatever that is), not a strip club. And the fact that I’ve walked to work for three days and already I’m known locally as “that strange girl who walks everywhere.” And the fact that vowels and diphthongs have switched places in all sorts of words: “dog” is “dawg”—a diphthong leaning heavily toward two independent syllables—but “light” (for us Yankees, a diphthong) is the simple-voweled “laaaaht.”
But there’s a lot about southern culture that’s downright charming. Like the fact that my landlady invited me over for a chat whenever I’m free. And the fact that the guy down the street, without being asked, helped us lug my heaviest items up the stairs when I moved in. And the fact that people mention God around here and nobody threatens to sue them. And the fact that, when I’m walking in the street because there’s no sidewalk, instead of honking at me as they pass, drivers give me space and wave. And the fact that a complex mail delivery problem was solved simply by speaking to the mail carrier in person on her morning route. And the fact that I hear crickets and cicadas at night instead of passing cars and subwoofers. And the fact that this is my neighborhood:
And these are my neighbors (the ones who don’t hunt squirrels):
So maybe this place will take some getting used to, but I suspect not very long at all, really.
In fact, I think I’ve got to visit this Sassy Butts place pretty soon, to see exactly what it is you bake at a BBQ (or BBQ at a bakery?).