Beyond Bless Your Heart: When You’re Raised on Southern Phrases

IMG_2701I am blessed (my heart and the rest of me) to have not one, but two amazing grandmas in my life.  These two very special- yet very different- ladies have taught me so much. Y’all, there is something to be said for raising a combined total of nine children, bevys of grandchildren and umpteen great grandchildren and doing it all with grace, resiliance, an ever-present smile and lotsa sugar (both kinds).  But if you think a stodgy post about manners and mindfulness would do these Steel Magnolias justice, you’ve got another thing coming.

They say actions speak louder than words, but when words have this much pun, er, punch, and are said with a Southern drawl, you just can’t help but listen up. Without further ado, here are a few phrases I heard a time or two growing up,  and find myself still saying today.

1. Don’t Break Your Fool Neck: Not your regular neck, mind you, your fool one. Because if you think that running with scissors, teetering on a kitchen stool in wedges while rummaging around in the top of your closet, or trying to remove a pine tree stump from your front yard with only a rope, your newlywed husband and his SUV, think again. These ladies did not get to be (you know I’m not going there – a lady never reveals her age) professional Southern grandmothers by acting a fool.

2. I Declare: I spent half my childhood wondering who Ida Claire was. Was she an aunt we didn’t know about? The black sheep of the family? Certainly every time her name was mentioned it was in conjunction with a head shake and was said in relation to something that was just a little bit off. Why didn’t we consider that one as a family name for one of our girls?

3. Not One Good Thing Happens After Midnight: It’s a wonder we didn’t turn into a big ole heap of pumpkins, as going out after midnight results in certain doom. But I wouldn’t know anything about this. Neither would my sister or my cousin Pearce, so we’ll just leave this one here…

4. Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise: I stopped saying this because it was honestly my reply to my co-worker’s casual “See ya Monday” on the rainy Friday afternoon before the Great Flood in October of 2015. Nope. All done. Not saying that one anymore.

5.  Is That What You’re Wearing?  You never know who you are going to meet when you go someplace. My grandmas may have embraced athleisure, but they will do it with a gorgeous slash of lipstick and done hair. My husband, who is one of the best-dressed men I know happened to be wearing a well-loved navy blue polo shirt with a little tear in the shoulder when (of all days!) he met one of my Georgia grandmas for the first time. My memory may be slipping a little, but I’m pretty sure she said, “Well, I guess that’s how they do it in South Carolina.” I have never let him live that one down.

6.   Fix Your Skirt/Scarf/Hair – It’s All Cattywompus. Truth told, I have not said “cattywompus” in a while, but it may be time to bring it back. This gem has been replaced in my household by wonked, wonky and just plain wonk. But the original form has so much more depth and dimension.

7.   Suit Yourself: “Suit yourself” is a last resort; a general giving up and letting that person know that whatever they are about to do is happening entirely on their own. There will be no support of this endeavor, nor any sympathy when said endeavor goes south. It can be followed three days later with “Toljaso…”

8. It Doesn’t Matter One Iota: What the heck is an Iota, anyway. Must have been the name of Ida Claire’s hair-raising sorority.  When you use this one you have had it up to your eyeballs with making decisions and you just want someone else to do it for you. You truly don’t care where you go out to eat or whether he wears the bow tie or the regular one. For the record, I think you can find the Iota house over yonder by the Hill of Beans.

I love you, Grandmas! I hope this post doesn’t make you say “I declare,” and shake your heads. And one of these days I will learn to properly wear lipstick.

Like all modern Southern girls, Kelly Barbrey has more going on than you can shake a stick at, but she still loves heading home to visit with her family and both of her grandmas. She tries to make sure she makes that journey with a full tank of gas, a bottle of water in the cup holder and some cash in her wallet for emergencies. And she never drives that lonesome highway after midnight. 👵🏻






One Comment Add yours

  1. Bob Travis says:

    Kelly, as a male growing up in the south, and a generation before you, I still heard everyone of those incredible “sayings”! Truly part of a wonderful southern up bringing that I will be forever thankful. You are the “bomb” for bringing back the memories!

    Liked by 1 person

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