Bless your heart
March 29, 2013

If you’ve never lived in the South, you’ve never had the privilege of hearing some of the most  fantastic oratory in this country.  And no, I’m not just talking about the diversity of accents and dialects down here.  I’m talking about the way people speak.  In particular, if you ever get the chance to listen to a Southern woman talk (usually about other people), stop and listen.

There are amazing quips and phrases that are heard on a daily basis in the South.  Some are very often in the form of a simile or metaphors.  Some of my favorites:

  • Fixing to: which means you are about to do something.  
  • Fixens: All the special trimmings with a meal (not to be confused with the phrase above)
  • Nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
  • More _____ than you can swing a dead cat at (Ok I actually don’t like this one much with the deceased animal reference)
  • Devil is beating his wife: It’s raining and the sun is shining simultaneously
  • You’re not from ’round here are ya?: We know you’re an outsider. We will keep an eye on you. (Usually said after you mispronounce one of our towns/streets/etc)
  • Rode hard and hung up to dry: looking pretty haggard
  • Sweating like a whore in church
  • He/She is dumber than a bag of hammers.
  • Gimme some sugar: Kiss/hug me.  Usually said to small children or cutesy to lovers.

But one of my favorite things about Southern oratory is the backhanded compliment.  If “you’re not from around here” you might confuse someone as complimenting you when really they’re pointing out your foibles.  I always tell people one of the best ways to spot it is to listen to the following phrase, it will usually precede or follow the aforementioned backhanded compliment or to soften the blow of a outright insult.

“Bless your heart.”

I adore this Southernism.  I like to use it whenever I can, and generally spread the gospel of “bless your heart” to my non-Southern friends.  How is it used?  Usually in conjunction with another Southernism.  For example: “He’s dumber than a bag of hammers, bless his heart.”  Now, see that doesn’t sound quite as bad as “he’s a dumbass” does it?  Throw in a nice drawl and I just want to sop it up with a biscuit.*

Another way to use “bless your heart” is when you see or hear someone doing something in an entirely wrong or bad way.  For example, when you see someone doing a terrible job of parking a giant car and then see it’s a little old lady who can barely see over the steering wheel and you say “bless her heart.”  Or recently when the woman at my gym was really trying to convince me that I needed to join their couch to 5k training group while I was wearing this shirt:

I almost never wear this shirt because it screams "I RAN A HALF MARATHON!"

I almost never wear this shirt because it screams “I RAN A HALF MARATHON!”

Or recently when I was getting my numbers checked at my gym and the employee helping me noticed my weight, BMI, body fat, and looked at me and said, “Wow…um…you must lift a lot of weights?”  Why thank you sweet Southern lady who was trying to think of the most polite way to say she was surprised by how healthy my numbers were.

* Gotta love this one.  Biscuits are a staple of Southern gastronomy.  They’re used to sop up the gravy, juices, chocolate, whatever is left on a plate.

So what are your favorite Southernisms?  Or do you have any that you need translating?

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Location, location, location
April 23, 2012

Why I love running in the South in the Spring.

  1. Running in and out of intoxicating wafts created by the wild honeysuckle growing everywhere.  (It’s a surprise every single time and I love it!)
  2. Warmer, yet reasonable temperatures.  The weather has not quite reached meltingly infernal temperatures yet.
  3. So many pretty flowers and trees blooming that bring back vibrant color to the once drab winter landscapes.  See also, the wonderful smell of said flowers and trees!
  4. The start of more sunlight in the morning (along with less frozen temperatures) that signal the return of early morning runs, and getting the workout completed before starting your day.
  5. More sunlight in the evening for after work runs with friends, or an easy way to burn off steam from a long day.
  6. Critters!  Birds chirping. Bunnies hopping.  Deer with their fawns.  Even the occasional wild turkey.

What I dislike about running in the South in Spring.

Unpredictable and violent weather.  This is really the only issue I have, but it affects so many things.  It is impossible to pack clothes for a run with more than a couple hours of checking the weather.  The weather can change very drastically and quickly in the course of a day.  39º in the morning, 80º at midday, massive thunderstorm with hail in the evening, 60º at night.  This also makes it very difficult to plan for spring races.  You spend all winter training in the cold, then on race day it could be pleasant, it could be 88º with threat of heat exhaustion, or thunderstorm all day.  The storms can also come on quickly and be very violent.  It may look like just a pleasant sprinkling outside (I love running in a little bit of rain), but in 10 minutes it can turn into tornado conditions and that’s where seconds count in getting to a safe place.  You have to learn to be very flexible, pack a bigger bag for working out with a variety of clothes, and be prepared to scrap a run or hit the gym if the weather turns really nasty, and be safe.