I grew up in what I’ve fondly nicknamed the “horse-lord country” of Kentucky. For twenty years, my bedroom window has looked out on a sprawling cow pasture, and for the past three or four my church choir has sung at the National Gospel Quartet Convention.
I am not a southerner.
I find myself to be one of a rare breed of people reared in the south, surrounded by vestiges of southern culture, and yet not wanting to be associated with it. Now, you must understand, I didn’t write this article to knock southerners—I love them—but to give a voice to those of us stuck in between, and to educate northerners on the difference between a true southerner and someone who is simply…from the south.
Camo Anything Gives you Nausea
For a brief period of time while at school, I forgot this phenomenon existed. Then I returned home over Christmas break to be assaulted at the mall by camo onesies, camo pants, camo dresses, camo bras, and camo underwear. No, no, no, no, NO.
Also: I’ve never bought a pair of cowboy boots. I never will. Thank you, goodnight.
Your Lack of Accent Shocks People
The first words out of people’s mouths after they hear where I’m from are “but you don’t have an accent!” I hate to break it to you people, but not everyone south of the Mason-Dixon Line sounds like Paula Deen. Hey, you’re from somewhere in the northern United States, why don’t you sound like Rocky Balboa?
Northerners Who Hate the Idea of Hunting Know Nothing
I used to go to Sunday school with a girl who could skin a deer without breaking her fake nails. I find that simultaneously awesome and terrifying.
You Don’t Love Country Music but You Don’t Hate it, Either…You’re Just Used to It
Where I come from, you’d be hard pressed to find a station that plays something other than country. It makes up two thirds of the airwaves. My northern friends harboring a secret love for it always ask me to ride with them, because I won’t make fun of them for blasting John Michael Montgomery.
How could I? To me, it’s just normal.
You Thought Unsweet Tea Was a Myth
I don’t empty sugar packets into my tea because I’m a southern belle. I just honestly never knew anything different—and to be perfectly honesty, unsweet tea shouldn’t really exist. Let’s just be real here.
You Thought Everyone Knew What Sugar Cream Pie Was
I mean, it’s been a fixture of church potlucks for as long as you can remember. You didn’t realize that was out of the ordinary until one of your friends discovered it in the dining commons and poked the jiggly inside with a cry of “what is this?!?”
You Refuse to Call Your Grandparents Anything but “Grandma” and “Grandpa”
Not “nana” and “papa,” or “nawnaw” and “pawpaw,” or “neenaw” and “peepaw.” No. “Grandma” and “Grandpa.” Case closed.
You Thought the Kentucky Derby was a Nation-Wide Holiday
You quickly realized that a few miles north of home, school didn’t shut down for a week while everyone colored jockey silks and printed out full lists of statistics on every horse. Who knew?
Every Birthday or Holiday of Your Life Has Been Spent at Cracker Barrel
Nothing says “warm family gathering” like ancient farm equipment hanging above your head. Biscuit, anyone? My meal came with 12.
You Attended a Northern School and Suddenly Became Aggressively Proud of Your Southern Heritage
Suddenly, you start typing out “y’all” and ranting about the horrors of unsweet tea. You still may not wear camo or cowboy boots, but you’re gonna stress your limited horse knowledge and argue about who won the latest NASCAR race, dang it.
‘Cause suddenly, it’s not just something annoying from home…it’s what sets you apart from everyone else. I’m still not a southerner, but I’m pretty proud of the fact that I say “thang” instead of “thing,” thank you very much.