Tennessee Living

Since my little visitor map indicated that I have several out of state visitors, and even some international visits (howdy international visitors!) I wanted to take a moment to welcome you all (even if only virtually) to the great state of Tennessee. I have compiled a quick guide to Tennesseans (and the south in general) based on commonly asked questions.

"Do you live on a farm?"
I do not live on a farm. Yes, there are farms in Tennessee, but not nearly as many as you would think. I live in a subdivision. I have neighbors on either side of me. Sometimes while driving, I will pass a field of cows, but I think they belong to the University of Tennessee Ag campus, so they do not count. (UT keeps all kinds of animals, most of them under the heading, "students").

"No farm? Where do you keep your sheep and goats then?"
I do not have stock animals. (See "I do not live on a farm" above). I do not own chickens, or cows, or goats, or horses. I get my eggs from Kroger's, and the only goat I've been close to was in a petting zoo (and he was leering at the hem of my shirt with malice in his eyes, so I didn't hang around long). Not really overly fond of things with hooves.

"What's with the 'Bless your heart' thing?"
I am a fan of bless (your/their/his/her/etc) heart. Contrary to what anyone above the Mason-Dixon line will tell you though, this is not meant as a slight. This is said to express sympathy, even if you're just expressing sympathy that the person you are blessing is an irreversible idiot. (The difference between the North and the South is that Yankees will just tell you that you're an idiot. Southerners will tell you that you're an idiot, but we'll also pity you for it). Need to express sympathy? Try bless your heart. "His dad is in the hospital again, bless his heart" works just as well as "She's got the brains of a turnip, bless her heart". In cases of extreme or heartfelt sympathy, use "Bless your pea-pickin' heart". Pea-picking hearts always convey more sympathy. Not sure why.

"Do you have an outhouse?"
Um, no. You have no doubt gotten this impression from that tv show, The Beverly Hillbillies". May I just say that that is a grossly exaggerated stereo-type. We've had indoor plumbing for some time now. At least 2 years.

"Why aren't you wearing overalls and running around barefoot?"
The Beverly Hillbillies obviously did a number on you, bless your heart. Look around you. Whatever the people passing you are wearing, chances are that someone in Tennessee is wearing the same thing. Shoes included. Unless of course, we're at home, or in the yard, or at the beach. Shoes are optional then.

"Why do you talk so slowly"?
Yes, we probably talk a little slower than everybody else, but that doesn't mean that we think slowly too. We do this deliberately to make you drop your guard before we dazzle you with our brilliance and wit. We also tend to have what is often described as a drawl, and we also extend single word syllables into much longer words to express dismay. (My grandmother is the best at this. My grandfather's name is Ed, but when she says it, it comes out as "Ey-yy-yy-yy-d!" Never less than 5 syllables. The longer it is, the more shocked she is at whatever he did).

"What's with the word Howdy"?
It's just friendly. Think, did you ever see a movie where the bad guy jumped out and said "howdy" before blowing someone away? No they did not. (And if you know of a movie where they did, then just keep it to yourself because I'm trying to make a point here). Howdy is just a casual, friendly greeting. Howdy has no ulterior motives. Howdy is not snide or snooty. Howdy is genuine. Try it sometime. You'll make lots of friends.

"What is sweet tea?"
Oh. My. Goodness. Sweet tea is just the nectar of the gods! All you northerners don't know a thing about how tea is supposed to be. It's a drink and a dessert all in one. And it doesn't count if the tea is unsweet and you just dump some sugar packets into it. Nonononono. You have to add the sugar when the water is boiling so that it all dissolves. I find that a cup to a cup and a half of sugar per gallon of water works well. Then you add your tea bags and let it seep for a while. Then you pour the tea over ice cubes so that it's good and cold. (All tea is iced tea...if your tea is still hot, you haven't waited long enough before drinking it. The coldness really brings the sugar taste out). Tea is for hot summer days and parties and church socials and after mowing the lawn. You'd think you'd died and gone to heaven.

"What is UT?"
UT does NOT stand for Utah, or worse, the University of Texas (Even though they pretend to be us, right down to the orange). UT is the University of Tennessee. Period. The main campus is right here in Knoxville, but they've got other campuses like UT Chattanooga (UTC) or UT Martin (UTM) and a space institute somewhere, but first and foremost, UT means Knoxville. The colors are orange and white, and mascot is the Volunteer, and the favorite pastimes are football and women's basketball.

So there you go, a crash course in East Tennessean. For homework, repeat the following phrase:
Howdy! Would you like some sweet tea while we watch UT destroy Florida (bless their hearts)?

With enough practice, you'll be ready to visit the great state of Tennessee. And we'll welcome you, because we're decent folk, and you can't help the fact that you weren't born here in the first place. Bless your heart.