The first time I ever visited a state north of Tennessee was when I was 17 years old. As a teenager in high school, and even as a youngster in primary grades, I had always wanted to be an actress. I delighted in acting on stage in church and school plays. A dream of mine was to visit New York City one day. … Well, that dream came true when a group of us from Carbon Hill, Alabama, decided to travel to The Big Apple.
It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The fast-paced lifestyles, the mixture of various races, accents and cultures, the loud rumbles of the city itself were unbelievable. Catching Broadway shows, visiting popular landmarks and dining at lavish restaurants had me living a life I knew I couldn’t afford on a weekly basis. But, it never dawned on me how southern we were until we walked into a two-story McDonald’s located on Broadway.
My friend Emily, whose speech is proper, clear and probably the most enunciated among the entire group, was ordering from the cashier. The short, female cashier spoke quickly with a nasally voice and said, “Where are you guys from? Texas?” Obviously, I took that as an insult and quickly replied, “No, we’re from Alabama.” As soon as I spoke the word, “Alabama,” I knew my accent showed that I lived way below the Mason-Dixon Line.
After college and having matured in the workforce, my accent is less noticeable … most days. Every now and then a long vowel sound will fall out of my mouth, and I end up saying “biiiii” instead of “bye.” And, yes, I still refer to a shopping cart as a buggy. But, there are some things about me that are different from your stereotypical Alabama Southern Belle.
- I do NOT like country music. Hard to believe, but true. I would rather run my fingernails down a chalkboard than listen to a twang tune about a cheating woman, dead dog or going fishing.
- No, we don’t all own Confederate flags and have them in our yard, on the porch or flying from the back of our cars.
- No, “Sweet Home Alabama” is not our state song. I enjoyed the song in high school, but almost every bar, car radio, dorm, frat house, etc., blasted it on weekends during my college years. Overkill.
- No, I don’t sound like a redneck hick from the sticks. But, even if I did sound like I was an original member from the cast of Sling Blade, that doesn’t mean my intellect is three peas short of a casserole. I went to college; I graduated with honors; I know how to spell my own name, thank you!
- Just because I answer with “No, sir” or Yes, ma’am,” doesn’t mean I think you’re old and decrepit. That’s how I was raised in our Christian home. If I didn’t answer Granny or Momma with “ma’am,” then I would either get a “butt whoopin’” or they would continuously ask the same question over and over again until I said it.