A few weeks ago on vacation, we flew into Birmingham. Right when we started driving down through Talledega County I wanted to go back to east bay. I wanted to run back to east bay. Something about the south does that to me, everytime I return I get the feeling I had when I was 17, I have to leave and not look back otherwise I will turn to salt and disappear into the humidity. Usually I try and prep myself with long drives in the car with Dixie Chicks singing “Been a long time gone…” But I guess I didn’t do adequate prepping.
Then we stopped at a gas station where Miss Knows-everyone-in-these-parts pegged us for out of towners that don’t say m’am and sir. She wasn’t friendly. And a southerner not being friendly is a red flag. It means leave. Leave now.
And further into the woods where I’m pretty sure Deliverance was filmed, I hear the gal in the lawn chair next to me say “oh no, I ain’t no Auburn girl, I’m Tigers all the way!” So, of course, I have to say, “Where in Louisiana are you from? Baton Rouge?” Metarie. So I tell her I’m from Lafayette. And she swings her body to face me, wrinkling her face, “well hell, you ain’t been there for a long time. you don’t talk like it at all.” I end up having this conversation at least 1 person every time I return to the south.
So I go through the schpiel: 18 yrs Louisiana, then NY, then P’cola, now Cali.
“You like California?”
“Yes, I like it very much.”
“I don’t know, Californians don’t like southerners. They think we’re stupid…”
I tell her about how I feel more accepted in California than anywhere I’ve been b/c people just don’t care. Also, I don’t get a pork chop on my plate when I tell people I don’t eat meat.
She continued to wrinkle her leathery face and grill me about California. Saying maybe that’s what it is, people aren’t friendly and don’t care about others. How in Louisiana you go to the grocery store and the lady checking you out will ask you what you’re cooking and the conversation will lead you to inviting her over to dinner. How just because southerners don’t leave the south, people think they’re dumb. I told her my best friend may be on her second husband and second baby and has never really left the south, but she’s still going after her master’s degree. I told her how much I like SF, but Los Angeles is not for me. And then she reveals, she’s only been to Los Angeles. Well I wouldn’t like California either if I had just gone to LA, I think I know better.
Give me a few beers and you’ll hear that I’m from the south.
Then she explained how to cook an etouffee without a roux.
I may not eat crawfish, but I know never to mention the idea of cooking an etouffee without a roux to anyone in Louisiana. They’d kick me out of the state.