A Southern Belle can live anywhere. We can adapt just as well as any highly trained spy or soldier. You can put us in the jungle and we’ll be just fine. Drop us off in the arctic cold (if you must) and there will be no problem whatsoever.
Yeah. So what? I’ve done the “Ava Gabor” and traded in the big city life for Green Acres. Whoopity do. I am a Southern Belle and I am adaptable. Great balls of fire, even the Original Southern Belle (O.S.B.), Scarlett O’hara, was born and raised in the country—although I’d love a tip on how she dealt with that damned red clay getting all over her frilly ruffles and finery.
Good ol’ Johnston County!
It’s true that I was a resident of Johnston County when I was in law school and to say that I was less than happy about it is a gross understatement. As Barbara Mandrell croons, “It was country when country wasn’t cool.” I cried at least once a day for reasons such as: (1) Going to vote and standing behind a man in line who was wearing nothing but a pair of overalls and a Richard Petty hat; (2) Reading that the White Swan BBQ Shack was voted the best place to propose marriage in Johnston County; and (3) Getting stuck on the 2-lane road to school behind a giant, noxious-smelling truck carrying pigs so that I had to look at pig asses all the way to my Constitutional Law class (I’m sure that there is symbolism in there somewhere.)
I’m much better about it this time around. Maybe it’s because I’m not ensnared in the sucking black hole of doom that was law school. Maybe it’s because I live in Clayton and Clayton has basically become a bedroom community to the evermore sprawling Raleigh.
Of course, just when I get a little bit too comfortable, something happens to remind me that I am still in the land of pork rinds and moonshine.
Take, for example, an innocent trip to the pool this summer. Baby Belle 2 and I were lounging in the shallow end of the pool. An adorable little girl who looked to be about my child’s age got into the pool with Mermaid Barbies and that was pretty much as good as catnip to Baby Belle 2.
The girls got together and decided that they wanted to play with each other, so introductions were in order. Baby Belle 2 told the little girl her name and the girl introduced herself as Jolene. “Jolene” isn’t exactly your everyday name, so Baby Belle 2 asked her name again. The girl said, “You know, Jolene! Like the song!” and then little Jolene proceeded to sing the entire Dolly Parton ditty wherein Dolly pleaded with Jolene not to take her man.
I talk about the importance of manners and how the fierce retention of manners can help you out of socially awkward situations, but I am ashamed to report that the bottom of my mouth dropped to the floor of that pool and I wordless gaped at little Jolene for quite a while. I am, however, pleased to report that my little Baby Belle 2 smiled and clapped and said “What a pretty song!” and they immediately commenced playing the Barbies.
I was yet again shocked out of my comfort zone a couple of weeks ago as I drove to get my girls from school. I was barreling down Highway 70 and I passed a little white church that was packed to the gills for what was obviously a funeral. How was it obviously a funeral? Well, there was a hearse.
The thing is, this wasn’t your average, everyday hearse. It was a black Dodge dually with a giant black camper shell that sported some nice and shiny landau bars on the side. It’s horribly tacky to laugh at a funeral (even if you aren’t technically in attendance), but I am yet again ashamed to admit to a quick and uncontrollable snort. Of course, now I kind of want the black Dodge and all its glory for my funeral, too.
What was the coup de grâce? Well, so far, the coup de grâce occurred as I stood in line at the drug store. As usual, the line was taking forever with all of the price checks, special cigarette purchases and signups for special store cards and such. When my eyes quickly tired of the various half-naked Kardashians flashed across the day-glo trash magazines at the counter, I looked over at the flyers pasted around the wall behind the cash register.
Lo and behold, my gaze fell upon a poster titled “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS CHICKEN?” with a picture of the apparently A.W.O.L. poultry at the top.
I’m sorry, but I thought it was a joke.
When it was finally my turn to buy my toothpaste, I chuckled and mentioned the amusing sign to the cashier who promptly and seriously informed me that I was in a farming community where folks never joke about their livestock. I was tempted to ask if the chicken had any distinguishing characteristics, but I felt that I had pushed my luck more than enough by that point.
I have since named the chicken Jolene in my head and I do sincerely hope that she gets home. Lawd have mercy.