This is a reflection of an ex-suburbanite’s appreciation of the South, and below is a conversation that happened a couple days ago in my class. One in which I thought was a
fitting intro for this blog.
Teacher (Me): You killed 33 squirrels?
Student: Yep, that’s my record.
Teacher: At one time?
Teacher: What do you do with them?
Student: Eat ‘em, what do you think?
Teacher: You eat squirrels?
Student: Yeah, they’re good.
Teacher: How do cook them?
Student: Slice their butts, pull real hard, and throw ‘em in the deep fryer.
Student 2: Mr. Riley, where are you from?
Student 2: Figures…this is the South. This is what we do.
If in a thousand years someone were to read about the history and culture of American society, the South will undoubtedly provide the most irony and entertainment. Where else can you go to hear the guns shots of Saturday nights and the glorious hallelujahs of Sunday mornings? Fried chicken, okra, and buttered grits are served as regularly as heart stents and blood pressure medication. This region of grim hilarity isn’t known for its intelligence but conceived Faulkner, Capote, and Flannery O’Connor. Technology may have been groomed in Silicon Valley but where else has produced the likes of Johnny Cash, Elvis, and Louis Armstrong?
Simply Southern, y’all
The northeast may boast of its brilliance, and the west will pride itself in an adventurous spirit, but the South will always be remembered as the heart and soul of the American people. Religious fervor, Friday night lights, and Colt revolvers affirm an identity and peculiarity all its own. The South is a place of large families, distinct food, and abundant faith. The South is a place to love; it’s a place to hate. It was slavery’s last foothold and where racial prejudice still defines cultural, religious, and political boundaries. But despite all its deficiencies and shortcomings imagine, if you will, a place with magnificent lakes as far as the eye can see, gators the size of small cars, swamp cabbages, shot guns, and Live Oaks shading the same piece of land they have for hundreds of years.
It’s football time…
For those who live in this region during the sweltering heat of summer, football and cooler weather are both gifts to fall’s arrival. Most in the nation enjoy and appreciate the camaraderie, sportsmanship, and competition of a great football game. We who live in the South, however, are admittedly and proudly unlike the rest of America’s more reasonable inhabitants. Cheering for one’s team faintly resembles a religion and maybe an extremist religion at that.
But more innocence and possibly more entertainment exists on Fridays underneath warm nights and bright lights. The smells of buttered kettle corn and cotton candy, the sounds of battle armor clashing on a big hit, and the band jolting us awake during momentary lulls are all part of an unforgettable experience. I might have to agree with my daughter — the start of school, the start of football, and the anticipation of cooler weather make this time of a year quite possibly the best.
…in Viking Country!
We have a lot to be thankful for at Lakeland Christian, don’t we? We live in a great part of the country, in a great town, and we’re part of an excellent school. So when you’re sitting in the stands this Friday, watching a bit of the game, the sun going down, the same teenagers walking back and forth, and hoping the ominous clouds above don’t ruin the event – be thankful. Don’t worry about Monday or even tomorrow morning’s to-do list. Sit back, take another sip of that Coke (the generic name for all soft drinks in the South) and know that, despite all of life’s challenges, you have been given this moment in time to be enjoyed – and give thanks.
Bill Riley teaches secondary math at Lakeland Christian School. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.