Sunday, July 13, 2008

When I Grow Up, I Want to be a Southern Belle

As a life-long Midwesterner, I love to see people from various other parts of the country. When Paul and I had been married one year, we spent the summer in Virginia Beach, VA working at a church. The people there were very "beachy" laid back...usually running late, no makeup, a visor to shield the sun (really, who wears a visor?), and any array of Hawaiian shirts. We went to a fancy restaurant for our first anniversary dinner, one on the water with a valet to park our car and everything. When I asked our hostess what to wear, she said, "Oh, capris is about as dressed up as anyone gets around here."

I've told Paul I love to visit places where the people are just a little bit crazy. Two such places...New York City and Bloomington, IN. I wouldn't want to live in either of these places, but they are very eclectic and interesting to visit. And the people are all just a little borderline. Almost certifiable in their own rights. When we got dressed up for our evening out in New York last summer, I wore a dress with (gasp) a hint of cleavage (I know, let's try to focus here). And I knew I could do that there because 1. I was there on vacation with my husband, 2. There are 2 or 10 million people there (I'm not really good with estimates), 3. We didn't know anyone except each other, and 4. Every nutjob in the country is either living in NY or visiting there as a tourist and my goodness, do you see some outfits. So as modest as I usually try to be, I felt my racy dress could pass just this once (hint, I was going to wear the same dress for a wedding in Marshall, and I just couldn't bring myself to do know, PW (pastor's wife) and all). Wow, that was a parentheses inside of a parentheses. Yeah, I have a degree in English and that just happened.

As for Bloomington, well, they are all just plain nutjobs. I mean, modern-day hippie, hacky-sack playing, dreadlock wearing, cover the back of your VW with Mother Earth bumper sticker wackos. But I do love that city. We went there for our anniversary last month. And folks, the weather was hot. And we do not have A/C in our car. Uncomfortable would be what we were that weekend (when not at our awesome B&B anyway). And I was commenting to Paul that although I would never, ever actually do this, in my mind I could consider on a hot day like that not wearing a certain up-top womanly undergarment just for the comfort factor. The reason I could consider this is because probably half of the women in Bloomington do not wear them either and no one would think anything about it but that I was a little off just like them.

But I digress. This blog is about Southern Women, not hippies. (And obviously contains no great spiritual lessons or truths either...sorry for slacking).

We were at the Southern Baptist Convention last month in Indianapolis. And if there is one thing that brings in the southerners, it is the annual SBC. I realized then and there that there is nothing quite as exquisite as a Southern Woman. Yes, I do mean of all ages, but in particular, the older ones. They were everywhere next to their husbands dressed in their suits, waving hellos to long-lost SBC friends that they may only see once a year. These women had impeccable taste, dressed in their Sunday best, complete with jewelry and matching purses and shoes. Their nails were done. Their hair was stylishly in place, and often the most gorgeous silver color. Their smiles were genuine and always there. And they would say things like "Huuuuuny" (honey, for you midwesterners). They looked like retired beauty queens, and their daughters looked like younger versions of them. Somehow, it didn't seem to have an ounce of fake about it. It certainly seemed to me that they were really that beautiful all the time.

Well, while at the convention center, Abigail was having an issue with the potties. They had automatic flushers on them, and they were very loud and apt to go off mid-stream (when you are so little, the potty sensors tend to think you have already evacuated the premises). She would pretty well freak out every time we would step into the bathroom. I was getting so frustrated because I knew she is a great little potty princess at home, and I couldn't figure out how to make these montrous flushes no big deal. When we walked out of the bathroom one of the times, having not accomplished the job we went in there for, there was the gorgeous Southern woman standing outside the restroom. She had on a plaid dress suit, she was thin, she had gold hoop earrings, and a perfect silver bob haircut. And I'm pretty sure she had waited outside that bathroom just for us.

She said to Abigail, "Oh huuuunny, what beautiful red shoes you have. Why, I wish I had a pair juuuust like them. Do you think they make them in my size?"
Abigail said, "Noooo."
The lady continued, "I heard that you were having a tough time in there with that big potty. My, what a big girl you are to use the potty. Those flushers are so loud, aren't they? Do you know what my granddaughter does when the flusher is loud? She just covers her little ears. That's just what she does, she just puts her little hands over her little ears, and that flusher isn't so loud. Do you think you could try that?"
Abigail, turning to me, "Mommy, I want to go put my hands on my ears."
I stood there, next to this beautiful woman, and realized that the thought never crossed my mind to have her cover her ears. So simple. So easy. So Southern, obviously.

And that little huuuunnny marched her little red shoes back into that bathroom, sat on the potty, covered her ears, and did the work she went in there to do. And now every time we are in a public bathroom, she says, "I want to cover my ears." It has never been a problem again.

I have two goals for next year's Southern Baptist Convention. The first is to be more like Jesus. The second is to be Southern.


nickmal said...

How do you define HIGH MAINTENANCE?

How do you define yourself?

Honey...I'm a princess! My father is the King of Kings!!!

nickmal said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kmonkey said...

Man, if you like Bloomington... youd LOVE Urbana :) There have been times when wed go out on saturday mornings to the farmers market and for a long walk to campus when I didn't worry about shaving my pits *shhhh dont tell anyone* because... well, you dont need to shave around here to fit in (or wear bras).

Loved your story about miss abigail and the southern belle. What a fantastic woman to just bless a child like that. So glad you guys got the public restroom thing down. We are still working at the private, in home type ;)

Cheers to southern belles.

nlamom said...

I think you are absolutely right!! I to love women from the south! It's just bred into us that we must look our best when going certain places! My Grandmother never went anywhere without her hair done, makeup on, and nails polished, no matter how bad she felt. She also loved purses and shoes. Maybe this is where my problem comes from?

I also love southern men (my husband is a great example) They are always very gentlemanly!!

There is nothing more comforting to me than to go home and hear that drawl!! There's nothing like it anywhere!

mccancek said...

Oh Amy, what a great story!! I'm reading it at work w/ a huge smile on my face, people walking by my office probably think I'm either crazy or high!!:) I love reading what you write!:)