Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

You know...

…very few things rhyme with “eleven.” There’s seven, and heaven, and leaven, then there’s various made-up words like emevan or budevon. SO, let’s just go ahead and dispense with finding any rhyme or reason with it, and launch the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three, Incident ELEVEN! Yay.

Now then, having had to navigate the roiling shoals of discomfiture from those for whom the past sets of questions have been found to be excessively difficult, or excessively silly, or excessively excessive, we tasked the staff at the Possumblog Center for Advanced Questioning to give us something that will satisfy every single person who decides to take the test.

After a brief discussion of approximately five minutes duration, they each submitted their resignations and walked out. Leaving it up to me. So don’t complain.

I do remember (vaguely) telling someone last week that this week’s questions would be very, very Southern, so here goes:

1) Assuming for the moment that “The South” still has a distinct and recognizable sense of itself within the greater universe of American culture (not having been homogenized and starched into being nothing more than merely another place on the map), when was the first time you ever felt or noticed that difference or distinction?

2) Assuming our original assumption is still valid, list three of distinctions about the South that you believe are positive, and worth being emulated by others.

3) Have you ever been to another place outside of the South that seemed to have that same sense of “Southernness” to it? If so, where was it?

As always, you don’t necessarily have to live in the South or have visited here to participate, although in fairness, this is one set of questions where it would probably be easier if you have some first-hand knowledge.

Or you can just lie about it.

In any event, leave a link in the comments below to your post--Haloscan does accept hyperlinks, so you can use the normal pointy-bracket, a href="http:..." pointy-bracket whatever-it-is in the comment section itself with the actual URL of the post. If you don’t have a blog, well, this is the eleventh week we’ve done this, so you should have one by now. GO start one and post your answers! Or, if you’re going to be difficult about it, just post your answers in the comments.

Now then--for my answers. Obviously, I think it’s fair to assume there still is something about the South that sets it apart from the rest of the country, or else I wouldn’t have started on that line of questioning but nevertheless, I think I was pretty well on in years before I began to think that we were different.

Probably the biggest clue was when I was about ten or so, and my dad’s brother and his wife and son came to visit. He and his family lived in Baltimore at the time, and even though lots of Marylanders and Baltimoravians think of themselves as Southern, let me tell you--you’re not.

It was quite an experience for me, having this sort of contact with real live Yankees, and not just the sort of snickering sidelong glances at them at the beach when they would be wandering around in shorts, black socks and dress shoes. My uncle grew up here, of course, and had only lived up north for a relatively few years, but he had been there long enough that I knew he certainly wasn’t Southern anymore. He was loud, and talked that funny way, and said things like “pop” instead of coke, and his wife was what my mother termed “coarse” and--well, I don’t know, but he and his frau and kid just seemed like they thought they were just a bit better than us. All of this is filtered through 32 years of memory, so maybe I’m putting too much stock in it, but that’s what you get.

FOR the second question--three positive, distinct, traits about the South.


Well, there is that whole ‘Southern hospitality’ thing, but people are really nice wherever you go, not just in the South, but we do seem to see it as a righteous obligation, so I’ll say that for one.

Rootedness to place? Yeah, I think so, too. It’s easy to love the neat tidiness of New England, the grandeur of the West, and it’s not that the South doesn’t have places of equivalent beauty because it does--but there’s something about even the worst old places--broken down, plowed out, overgrown, that people can’t seem to get out of their system. They stay on long after sane people would have gotten out. Because you might not have anything else, but if you have some land, you have some hope, I suppose.

Let’s see--another one might be the general sense of enjoyment of storytelling and storytellers. I assume people from other places like such things, too, but it’s one of those things we seem to have.

Okay, last one--a place that reminds me of home. Oddly enough, I would have to say Italy. For some reason, of all the places I have visited that were NOT the South, Italy seemed to have the same sort of devil-may-care exuberance combined with a somewhat-tattered-looking physical surroundings. Except they seemed to have a much better sense of style about the whole thing--the only thing close would be New Orleans, which is French and not Italian, but I never found anyplace in France that was anything like New Orleans. (I will say Italian guys are a little too invested in the whole Italian Guy persona, though. In their defense, however, they DO have all them naked statues all over the place, which I imagine is a lot to live up to. We just have Confederates on horses--much easier to accomplish.)

So, there you go.

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