It’s no secret that our little corner of the world is more diverse than it used to be. Thousands of transplants from other states and countries have chosen to call the lowcountry home.
I recently met a super-nice guy with a captivating, clipped accent.
“Where are you from?” I asked SNG, because down here that’s an important question, second only to, “Does your dog bite?”
SNG smiled a twinkling smile and said, “Georgia.”
I looked him right in the eye—that’s important down here, too—and said, “Pants on fire.”
He laughed and said, “Georgia… in Eurasia. A former Soviet republic.”
I love to get schooled like that.
Point being, everyone who moves here “from off” adds to the fabric of our lives in some way, with different perspectives, customs and time-honored traditions.
So, newcomers are awesome—but when do you stop being a newcomer and become… one of us?
That’s actually pretty easy to figure out. There are many tells that say you’re well on your way to being a bona-fide Southerner. (A lot of them involve food. If you’ve been here longer than 10 minutes, this comes as no surprise.)
- You begin collecting bow ties.
- Anything below 85 degrees feels a little chilly.
- You brag about being able to drive from the beach to the mountains in five hours.
- You have a monogrammed oyster knife.
- You give someone a monogrammed oyster knife.
- When houseguests want to see the beach, you gleefully shout, “Which one?!”
- You want your grandchildren to call you MeeMaw.
- You grieved for Pat Conroy like he was a relative.
- You begin to understand the value of a seersucker suit in August.
- Your Instagram is filled with photos of the Ravenel Bridge, sunsets on the marsh and Spanish moss.
- It’s Duke’s or nothing on your tomato sandwich.
- You haven’t worn pantyhose in five years.
- You develop a taste for gin and tonics. And/or Pabst Blue Ribbon.
- Your car knows the way to Cracker Barrel.
- Dorothea Benton Frank, Mary Alice Monroe, Sue Monk Kidd---if a novel is set in the Lowcountry and written by a woman with three names, you’ve read it.
- You own two or more pairs of Madras shorts. (Your gender doesn’t matter.)
- “Y’all” just rolls off your tongue.
- You develop a deep, abiding hatred of mosquitoes.
- You know “barbecue” is both a noun and a verb.
- You own a beer fridge. You love your beer fridge.
- Mildew has become your sworn enemy.
- You have a dog, cat, rabbit or hamster named Bubba.
- You know what “third cousin, twice removed” actually means. (Full disclosure: I have no idea.)
- You call armadillos possums on the half-shell.
- You’re thinking about buying a couple of acres in the country.
- You believe that fire ants are from the devil, and you are correct.
- After starting out with one generic bird feeder, you now have a window feeder, suet feeder, thistle feeder, tray feeder, hopper feeder and hummingbird feeder. Also, you hate squirrels.
- You find yourself saying, “That dog won’t hunt.”
- You sing in a church choir, even if you can’t sing.
- You have several recipes for shrimp and grits.
- You find yourself saying, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”
- You know the names of your mailman, Fed Ex guy, beat cop and the guy who changes your oil at Jiffy-Lube.
- You plant azaleas, tea olives and honeysuckle.
- You enjoy sitting on the front porch and waving at the neighbors.
- Boiled peanuts have become your favorite appetizer.
Julie R. Smith, who was once called a Yankee for being born in North Carolina, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.