My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The South (Part II)

"So, ya writing a blog post?"

Since I’ve moved back to the south, not a day has gone by where I am not reminded of an article in Mad Magazine called “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions”. The section, written by the legendary Al Jaffee, had one character asking a stupid question and another responds with an insult or sarcastic remark. I feel like I’m constantly living in one of those jokes.

For instance, this morning I was standing in the front yard with a large bag labeled “Ant Killer” and a gallon jug that said “Ant Killer” in my hands as I sprayed a mound that had risen out of the front yard like a hand out of a grave in every cliché horror movie. And along came Bubba Everybody walking down the sidewalk on his way back from buying Skoal and Sweet Tea (one assumes). Now where I am from, someone in his position would just walk by me and, at the most, we would exchange a nod or some other minimal vocal recognition, but not in the South. In the South, I believe that he is required to stop and ask me the stupidest question possible. Cue Bubba and, “Ya got an ant problem?”

“Yes,” I said - hoping that would be the end of it. But alas, there he stood. Affixed to the ground waiting for me to turn and have a conversation about said ants. I sighed and turned to him. “They just showed up this morning and I’m trying to get rid of them before they get too comfortable.” Quickly adding, “so I need to move pretty quickly to contain them before they spread”.

Thinking that this would give him a subtle clue to move on, I went back to my spraying. Undeterred, he addressed my back as if it was looking at him with an eager gaze longing for a tête-à-tête. “Yep, we get them from time to time. I’ve tried damn-near everything, but they still keep coming back. Been thinking that this year I’ll hire one of those companies that they show on the TV. Gotta be cheaper than all them chemicals that I halfta buy all year.”

“Uh huh,” I grunt noncommittally.

“You know what you ought to do”, he says without pausing and still to my back, “you aught to make a circle around you house of that stuff. Bet that’d work.”

I turn to face him and say, “I’ll give that a try” and “Thanks!” in my most upbeat, this is where we part, voice.

Again, he stands there. Staring at me with what can only be described as the same look that my dog gives me when I try to explain to her that bacon isn’t for doggies. So on went the conversation for another ten minutes. He finally departed after we discussed the roof, the azaleas, As Seen on TV items, and, of course, the ants.

This entire exchange is something that is very foreign to me. Where I am from, people just don’t do this. You would never randomly start a conversation with someone unless you a) had some sort of incredibly expertise in the field, and b) were properly prompted for a conversation. Which is why, after having numerous run-ins with people like this, I want to start with the Snappy Answers part of that comic from my youthful reading of Mad Magazine.

“Ya got an ant problem?”

“Nope, just feeding the Mole People.”

“Yes, I can’t seem to attract enough of them into the yard.”

“Why, have they been talking to you too?”

But I can’t. I’ve tried, and I just can’t bring myself to be mean to someone who is both following the local culture and is honestly trying to be cordial. Instead, I’ll just go on mucking my way through forced conversation after conversation looking forward to the day when I get to move back up north and never feel obligated to speak to anyone ever again. Just me, alone, day after day with no one new to talk to…

…hmmm ….

So, reading my blog huh?

1 comment:

Dwight said...

So...don't like the South, huh?