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English Essays

Southern Style

In the United States, only the 'frontier days' West has its very own genre. However, the South has a special flavor all its own, and many wonderful films and novels to illustrate it. Planning to write one of your own? Unless you're a native, you'd best be readin' up on what life is like south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Below that is a spoofish essay about the South's very own horoscope, followed by some southern jokes.

Six Elements

Southern Horoscope

Selected Southern Jokes

The Six Elements of Southern Style

Contains excerpts from the book Having it Y'all by Ann Barrett Batson, with inserted *commentary,* and the short essays below, written by South Carolina native SuGin Bowman.

* * *
Southerners just can't imagine going through life aloof and poker-faced. We were raised to behave in a sociable, neighborly fashion to our fellow man, even if we don't particularly like them or know them from a hole in the ground. First-time visitors to the South invariably receive our wholesale friendliness with astonishment, if not with guarded suspicion, but soon are eager to adopt our amicable ways for themselves.

If you've a hankering to, you can learn some southern-style friendliness for yourself with the following guidelines. But remember our fair warning: Use your newly found skills with discretion when you venture outside the South-land. Since your contemporaries may be unused to such kindliness, they probably will wonder just what in the Sam Hill has got into you.

Being friendly to unknowns: Unless the strangers you encounter are most unsavory characters, behave as if you've known them since you were born. This means waving or smiling when passing (depending on distance) and always greeting ("How ya doing?") if within earshot. *this is the honest- to-God truth in Aiken. you always at least make eye contact and nod. this is what got me a bunch of stares in NYC*

Being friendly to knowns: If the passerby is friend, family, or even mere acquaintance, the encounter should become a reunion of sorts. All participants should avidly discuss the weather, their health, and (always) any newly-discovered bits of gossip or scandal. Always conclude the get-to-gether with a fond farewell, such as "Take care now, hear?" *I dunno about that weather and health, but for teenagers, definitely all the latest gossip, ‘cause you know most everybody*

2.Relaxed Lifestyle.
We Southerners are content to proceed more slowly. We talk slow, walk slow and always seem so calm, but after all, isn't life a journey, what's the use of not enjoying the ride?

3.Languid Locution.
Just why do we Southerners loll our words around so? Not because we are lazy. Shucks, no. Its because they taste good. Being communicative sorts, we take our time when we talk so we can prolong the pleasure of the moment.*that's what the book says* While one has to be raised down South to "speak southern" authentically, it is possible for others to do a commendable job by keeping the fundamentals of southern speech in mind:

Speak slowly. Savor the flavor of you words.
Adopt a nasal twang and add a lilt to your tempo.
Resist any inclination to enunciate precisely.
End your sentences with a lift to your voice, as if you're asking a question.
Incorporate the southern vernacular (vocab) into everyday speech.

4.Brothers and sisters all.
We Southerners not only belong to our homeland, we belong to one another. This is because the Southland is actually one massive extended family of relations and associations. *some of those small towns are ALL part of the same family, believe me* But the benefits of it are that no matter where you go, you'll most likely know somebody there. *you see absolutely EVERYONE at Wal-Mart*

And everybody is willing to help someone in need because they figure that one day they might be in the same fix. *this is true and I've experienced it first-hand. I was driving home from lifeguarding at a party at a campground, and I ran clean out of gas near another camp way out there in the woods. The camp director gave me enough gas to get home (which was quite a fair piece) and told me not to worry about paying. then, I couldn't get it started. he looked under the hood and fiddled with it for a while and got it started and made sure I got on my way*

5.Good manners.
Down South, we're justifiably famous for out gracious manners. Having good manners means being unfailingly polite, courteous, respectful, and helpful to relations, friends and strangers. If you were brought up by real Southerners you always says, "yes, ma'am" and "no, sir" to everybody older than yourself. But, if you're at work, and you address a customer or your boss, its a given. *yup, yup, yup* Also, if you happened to miss what someone just said, you say, "sir"? or "ma'am?" or "pardon?"

6.Jesus loves us.
We're called the Bible Belt, and for good reason. EVERYBODY goes to church; that's one of THE social activities. They meet on Sunday mornings, and nights; Wednesday is Youth Group; Thursday is Bible Study; and they're always planning trips and activities for the weekend. During the summer, every church has Vacation Bible School, and most people go to more than one, usually theirs and their friends. *Aiken is a famous retirement town, no joke, so, of course all the old people got plenty of time on their hands and are so close to moving on, that they ALL go to church. they comprise 99% of the congregation.*

Southern Foods

GRITS: eaten every morning with butter, salt and pepper
VIDALIA ONIONS: onions so sweet that people eat 'em like apples
PECANS: the trees throw them up around here, used to make pecan pies
PEANUTS: usually eaten boiled, which is pronounced "bowled" as in you just went bowling
CHITLINS: pig intestines that are turned inside out, braided, boiled and them fried--yummy!
FRIED CHICKEN: but of course

Southern Lingo

ABIDE: tolerate, as in "I can't abide by the rules.
ACT UP: misbehave, as in "You boys sure act up."
CONNIPTION: fit of anger
FIRED UP: excited, motivated, as in "We’re all fired up to win."
GUMPTION: guts, as in "Only the church has the gumption to change the world." (has nothing to do with Forrest)
MOSEY: amble about in no particular hurry
OWN UP: confess
RILED UP: angry or upset
SCROUNGE: to make something from nothing, as in "I'll see if I can scrounge up some donations for Dollar for Decency."
SHUCKS: exclamatory term of regret, as in "Aw, shucks! Kim Chee again?

These rules were forwarded to me from an obvious Yankee; not naming any names.


1.Save all manner of bacon grease. You will be instructed later how to use it.
2.If you forget a Southerner's name, refer to him (or her) as "Bubba". You have a 75% chance of being right.
3.Just because you can't drive on snow and ice does not mean we can stay home the two days of the year it snows.
4.If you do run your car into a ditch, don't panic. Four men in the cab of a four wheel drive with a 12-pack of beer and a tow chain will be along shortly. Don't try to help them. Just stay out of their way. This is what they live for.
5.Don't be surprised to find movie rentals and bait in the same store.
6.Do not buy food at the movie store.
7.If it can't be fried in bacon grease, it ain't worth cooking, let alone eating.
8.Remember: "Y'all" is singular. "All y'all" is plural. "All y'all's" is plural possessive.
9.There is nothing sillier than a Northerner imitating a southern accent, unless it is a southerner imitating a Boston accent.
10.Get used to hearing, "You ain't from around here, are you?"
11.People walk slower here.
12.Don't be worried that you don't understand anyone. They don't understand you either.
13.The first Southern expression to creep into a transplanted Northerner's vocabulary is the adjective "Big ol'", as in "big ol' truck" or "big ol' boy". Eighty-five percent begin their new Southern influenced dialect with this expression.
14.The proper pronunciation you learned in school is no longer proper.
15.Be advised: The "He needed killin'" defense is valid here.
16.If attending a funeral in the South, remember, we stay until the last shovel of dirt is thrown on and the tent is torn down.
17.If you hear a Southerner exclaim, "Hey, y'all, watch this!" stay out of his way. These are likely the last words he will ever say.
18.Most Southerners do not use turn signals, and they ignore those who do. In fact, if you see a signal blinking on a car with a southern license plate, you may rest assured that it was on when the car was purchased.
19.Northerners can be identified by the spit on the inside of their car's windshield that comes from yelling at other drivers.
20.The winter wardrobe you always brought out in September can wait until November.
21.If there is the prediction of the slightest chance of even the most minuscule accumulation of snow, your presence is required at the local grocery store. It does not matter if you need anything from the store, it is just something you're supposed to do.
22.Satellite dishes are very popular in the South. When you purchase one it is to be positioned directly in front of your trailer. This is logical bearing in mind that the dish cost considerably more than the trailer and should, therefore, be displayed.

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 Some of us Southerners are pretty skeptical of horoscopes and the people that read them. If we are to ever fully understand all the star signs and the people they represent, we need symbols that all true Southerners understand: See the list below...

 OKRA (Dec 22 - Jan 20) Are tough on the outside but tender on the inside. Okras have tremendous influence. An older Okra can look back over his life and see the seeds of his influence everywhere. You can do something good each day if you try.

 CHITLIN (Jan 21 - Feb 19) Chitlins come from humble backgrounds. A Chitlin, however, will make something of himself if he is motivated and has lots of seasoning. In dealing with Chitlins, be careful they may surprise you. They can erupt like Vesuvius. Chitlins are best with Catfish and Okra.

 BOLL WEEVIL (Feb 20 - March 20) You have an overwhelming curiosity. You're unsatisfied with the surface of things, and you feel the need to bore deep into the interior of everything. Needless to say, you are very intense and driven as if you had some inner hunger. You love to stay busy and tend to work too much. Nobody in their right mind is going to marry you, so don't worry about it.

 MOON PIE (March 21 - April 20) You're the type that spends a lot of time on the front porch. A cinch to recognize the physical appearance of Moon Pies. Big and round are the key words here. You should marry anybody who you can get remotely interested in the idea. It's not going to be easy. You always have a big smile and are happy. This might be the year to think about aerobics. Maybe not.

 POSSUM (April 21 - May 21) When confronted with life's difficulties, possums have a marked tendency to withdraw and develop a don't-bother-me-about-it attitude. Sometimes you become so withdrawn, people actually think you're dead. This strategy is probably not psychologically healthy but seems to work for you. You are a rare breed. Most folks love to watch you work and play. You are a night person and mind your own business.

 CRAWFISH (May 22 - June 21) Crawfish is a water sign. If you work in an office, you're hanging around the water cooler. Crawfish prefer the beach to the mountains, the pool to the golf course, and the bathtub to the living room. You tend not to be particularly attractive physically, but you have very, very good heads.

 COLLARDS (June 22 - July 23) Collards have a genius for communication. They love to get in the melting pot of life and share their essence with the essence of those around them. Collards make good social workers, psychologists, and baseball managers. As far as your personal life goes, if you are Collards, stay away from Crawfish. It just won't work. Save yourself a lot of heartache.

 CATFISH (July 24 - Aug 23) Catfish are traditionalists in matters of the heart, although one's whiskers may cause problems for loved ones. You Catfish are never easy people to understand. You run fast. You work and play hard. Even though you prefer the muddy bottoms to the clear surface of life, you are liked by most. Above all else, Catfish should stay away from Moon Pies.

 GRITS (Aug 24 - Sept 23) Your highest aim is to be with others like yourself. You like to huddle together with a big crowd of other Grits. You love to travel though, so maybe you should think about joining a club. Where do you like to go? Anywhere they have cheese, gravy, bacon, butter, or eggs and a good time. If you can go somewhere where they have all these things, that serves you well. You are pure in heart.

 BOILED PEANUTS (Sept 24 - Oct 23) You have a passionate desire to help your fellow man. Unfortunately, those who know you best, your friends and loved ones, may find that your personality is much too salty, and their criticism will affect you deeply because you are really much softer than you appear. You should go right ahead and marry anybody you want to because in a certain way, yours is a charmed life. On the road of life, you can be sure that people will always pull over and stop for you.

 BUTTER BEAN (Oct 24 - Nov 22) Always invite a Butter Bean to a party because Butter Beans get along well with everybody. You, as a Butter Bean, should be proud. You've grown on the vine of life, and you feel at home no matter what the setting. You can sit next to anybody. However, you, too, shouldn't have anything to do with Moon Pies.

 ARMADILLO (Nov 23 - Dec 21) You have a tendency to develop a tough exterior, but you are actually quite gentle and kind inside. A good evening for you? Old friends, a fire, some roots, fruit, worms, and insects. You are a throwback. You're not concerned with today's fashions and trends. You're not concerned with anything about today. You're almost prehistoric in your interests and behavior patterns. You probably want to marry another Armadillo, but a Possum is another somewhat kinky mating possibility.

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Selected Southern Jokes

Billy Bob and Luther were talking one afternoon when Billy Bob tells Luther,
"Ya know, I reckon I'm 'bout ready for a vacation. Only this year I'm gonna
do it a little different. The last few years, I took your advice about
where to go.

Three years ago you said to go to Hawaii. I went to Hawaii and Earlene got

Then two years ago, you told me to go to the Bahamas, and Earlene got
pregnant again.

Last year you suggested Tahiti and darned if Earlene didn't get pregnant

Luther asks Billy Bob, "So, what you gonna do this year that's different?"

Billy Bob says, "This year I'm taking Earlene with me."



Oil Change instructions for Women:
1) Pull up to Jiffy Lube when the mileage reaches 3000 miles since the last
oil change.
2) Drink a cup of coffee.
3) 15 minutes later, write a check and leave with a properly maintained
 Money spent: Oil Change $20.00, Coffee $1.00, Total $21.00

* * *

 Oil Change instructions for Men:
 1) Wait until Saturday, drive to auto parts store and buy a case of oil,
filter, kitty litter, hand cleaner and a scented tree, write a check for
 2) Stop by 7 - 11 and buy a case of beer, write a check for $20, drive
 3) Open a beer and drink it.
 4) Jack car up. Spend 30 minutes looking for jack stands.
 5) Find jack stands under kid's pedal car.
 6) In frustration, open another beer and drink it.
 7) Place drain pan under engine.
 8) Look for 9/16 box end wrench.
 9) Give up and use crescent wrench.
 10) Unscrew drain plug.
 11) Drop drain plug in pan of hot oil: splash hot oil on you in process.
 12) Crawl out from under car to wipe hot oil off of face and arms Throw
kitty litter on spilled oil.
 13) Have another beer while watching oil drain.
 14) Spend 30 minutes looking for oil filter wrench.
 15) Give up; crawl under car and hammer a screwdriver through oil filter
and twist off.
 16) Crawl out from under car with dripping oil filter splashing oil
everywhere from holes. Cleverly hide old oil filter among trash in trash can
to  avoid environmental penalties. Drink a beer.
 17) Buddy shows up; finish case of beer with him. Decide to finish oil
change tomorrow so you can go see his new garage door opener.
 18) Sunday: Skip church because "I gotta finish the oil change." Drag  pan
full of old oil out from underneath car. Cleverly dump oil in hole in back
yard instead of taking it back to Kragen to recycle.
 19) Throw kitty litter on oil spilled during step 18.
 20) Beer? No, drank it all yesterday.
 21) Walk to 7-11; buy beer.
 22) Install new oil filter making sure to apply a thin coat of oil to
gasket surface.
 23) Dump first quart of fresh oil into engine.
 24) Remember drain plug from step 11.
 25) Hurry to find drain plug in drain pan.
 26) Remember that the used oil is buried in a hole in the back yard,  along
with drain plug.
 27) Drink beer.
 28) Shovel out hole and sift oily mud for drain plug. Re-shovel oily dirt
into hole. Steal sand from kids sandbox to cleverly cover oily patch of
ground and avoid environmental penalties. Wash drain plug in lawnmower gas.
 29) Discover that first quart of fresh oil is now on the floor. Throw kitty
litter on oil spill.
 30) Drink beer.
 31) Crawl under car getting kitty litter into eyes. Wipe eyes with oily rag
used to clean drain plug. Slip with stupid crescent wrench tightening drain
plug and bang knuckles on frame.
 32) Bang head on floorboards in reaction to step 31.
 33) Begin cussing fit.
 34) Throw stupid crescent wrench.
 35) Cuss for additional 10 minutes because wrench hit bowling trophy.
 36) Beer.
 37) Clean up hands and forehead and bandage as required t o stop blood >
 38) Beer.
 39) Beer.
 40) Dump in five fresh quarts of oil.
 41) Beer.
 42) Lower car from jack stands.
 43) Accidentally crush remaining case of new motor oil.
 44) Move car back to apply more kitty litter to fresh oil spilled during
 23 - 43.
 45) Beer.
 46) Test drive car.
 47) Get pulled over: arrested for driving under the influence.
 48) Car gets impounded.
 49) Call loving wife, make bail.
 50) 12 hours later, get car from impound yard.

 Money spent:
            Parts $50.00
            DUI $2500.00
            Impound fee $75.00
      Bail $1500.00
      Beer $40.00
      Total - $4,165.00

 But you know the job was done right!


An elderly man in Louisiana had owned a large farm for many years.
There was a large pond in the back 40. It was properly shaped for swimming, so he surrounded it with picnic tables, horseshoe courts, and some apple and peach trees.

One evening the old farmer decided to go down to the pond, as he hadn't been there for a while, and look it over. He grabbed a five gallon bucket to bring back some fruit.

As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee.
As he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young women skinny-dipping.

He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end.

One of the women shouted to him, "We're not coming out until you leave!"
The old man frowned and said, "I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim naked or make you get out of the pond." Holding up the bucket, he said, "I'm here to feed the alligator."

Moral: Some old men can still think fast.


 Three women -- one German, one Japanese, and a bubbette were sitting naked in a sauna. There was a beeping sound.
 The German pressed her forearm and the beep stopped. The others looked at her questioningly. "That was my pager, she said. I have a microchip under the skin of my arm."
 Minutes later, a phone rang. The Japanese woman lifted her palm to her ear. When she finished talking, she explained, "That was my mobile phone. I have a microchip in my hand."
 The bubbette felt decidedly low-tech. Not to be outdone, she had to do something just as impressive. She stepped out of the sauna and went to the bathroom, returning with a piece of toilet paper hanging from her behind. The others raised their eyebrows and stared at her.
 The bubbette finally said, "Well, will you look at that! I'm gettin' a fax!"


We are sick and tired of hearing about how dumb people are in the South, and we challenge any so-called smart Yankee to take this exam:

1. Calculate the smallest limb diameter on a persimmon tree that will support a 10 pound possum.

2. Which of these cars will rust out the quickest when placed on blocks in your front yard?
(A) '65 Ford Fairlane
(B) '69 Chevrolet Chevelle
(C) '64 Pontiac GTO.

3. If your uncle builds a still which operates at a capacity of 20 gallons of shine produced per hour, how many car radiators are required to condense the product?

4. A woodcutter has a chainsaw which operates at 2700 RPM. The density of the pine trees in the plot to be harvested is 470 per acre. The plot is 2.3 acres in size. The average tree diameter is 14 inches. How many Budweisers will be drunk before the trees are cut down?

5. A front porch is constructed of 2x8 pine on 24-inch centers with a field rock foundation. The span is 8 feet and the porch length is 16 feet. The porch floor is 1-inch rough sawn pine. When the porch collapses, how many dogs will be killed?

6. A man owns a Georgia house and 3.7 acres of land in a hollow with an average slope of 15%. The man has five children. Can each of his grown children place a mobile home on the man's land and still have enough property for their electric appliances to sit out front?

7. A 2-ton truck is overloaded and proceeding 900 yards down a steep slope on a secondary road at 45 MPH. The brakes fail. Given average traffic conditions on secondary roads, what is the probability that it will strike a vehicle with a muffler?


Once at a conference in San Antonio, going through the line at the reception we were being served beef ribs, and someone asked, "What about the vegetarian option? They said there was a vegetarian option!"
The server was momentarily confused. Finally he figured it out. "Hey, yeah, over here we gots the chicken!"


HYMN 365






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