Southern Grammar

While West Virginia isn’t technically “The South”—not at all in the same league as say Mississippi or Alabama—and while I wasn’t raised there, only spent summers in the state visiting grandparents, I somehow managed to absorb some local colloquialisms that my daughter constantly makes fun of me for because they sound so ridiculously Southern. I blame my parents (who are from West Virginia) completely for imprinting them on me. Just so you know that right up front.

Recently I was mad at one of my cats — again. This is not a rare occurrence. If any of you own cats, you’re bound to grit your teeth at something they’ve done on a nearly daily basis. Such is the nature of our fuzzy felines and I do love them even during these trying moments. I think.  Anyway, I was pissed at something one of my cats did and was on the verge of inflicting physical violence. Of course, I can’t swing my cat by the tail or anything like that so I decided to vent my anger through a steady stream of obscenities. One of the things I said in my blinding tirade was, “She makes me so mad I could just SPIT.” I must’ve said it with more vehemence than I realized and put an extra emphasis on the word ‘spit’ because my daughter practically broke down in hysterics. She said I sounded like a southern Moriarty. If any of you watch the excellent new Sherlock series on BBC you’d know just how ridiculous of a concept that is.

Mr. Bean

A couple days ago I had the unfortunate displeasure of conversing with an idiot rep from my abysmal satellite internet provider Wildblue. It was one of these conversations that just kept going round and round without making any headway in resolving my issue. Sometimes I think those calls are psychological experiments on patience and I’m the test subject because no one can be that bad at their job, can they? Exasperated, I hung up the phone and said (I’m sure in a frustrated tone), “Well, she doesn’t have the sense God gave a stump.” I guess my Southern accent (which, again, I shouldn’t even have since I’m not from the South) must have come out in my rage because there was my good ol’ daughter yet again in a fit of laughter at my odd choice of words. “Thanks, I’ll be here all week,” I sneered back at her.

I’m glad she can find my livid outbursts so amusing. One of her all-time favorite Wendy-isms is when I say “Piss or get off the pot” to confused drivers in front of me trying to decide if they want to turn, park, or keep on going. That one puts her in tears as she tries to control her laughter. These are all phrases that she apparently never hears anyone else say, which I find hard to believe. And I guarantee if she spent some time in my parents’ old stomping ground, she’d find that my creative use of words is a lot more common. Unfortunately she hasn’t had the pleasure of West Virginia summers.   So for now, I’m happy to entertain my ever-so-Yankee daughter with my anger induced stand-up routine, much to her delight.

8 thoughts on “Southern Grammar

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this! I’m a born and bred Yankee, hailing from the Western New York region, who moved west shortly after high school (a gazillion years ago). To this day, my west-coast born husband and sons love to tease me about my peculiar “local colloquialisms” and how my accent tends to resurface whenever I’m agitated or excited. 🙂

    • I’m glad you liked it! I bet your husband and son come up with quirky phrases of their own! My husband and kids teased me so badly about calling a grocery cart a “buggy,” that over the years I’ve adapted and changed and now it’s just a “cart” like everyone else here calls it. Same with “pop” vs “soda.” Do you have anything you used to say that you’ve changed to “fit in”?

      • Pop vs soda was a biggie for me. I was a “pop” girl until I moved west, now (like you) I have become accustomed to calling it soda and pop sounds completely foreign. For years, the one word I simply could not pronounce without a hint of my NY accent being apparent was coffee. It’s funny how we all speak the same language, yet our regional dialects and phrases gives away our place of birth.

  2. My husband is from NY and although he’s been out of that state for many, many years, he still can’t say coffee without it coming out sounding like Joey from Friends! It’s the one thing I can tease him about. I love hearing the different accents from varying regions.

  3. My understanding of American accents is little, what your story did make me do is watch two seasons of Sherlock on Netflix. To be honest I read the first paragraphs a week ago, watched the serie, and now I understand the context better. Although I knew the stories from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for a long time, the new and fresh Moriarty sure is interesting.

    Your story did make me smile though. I find it written with wit and a healthy amount of irony and sarcasm. Which made it easy to imagine some daughter child wriggling in the safety belt of the back seat while straining to keep breathing through gigantic bouts of laughter 😉

  4. He’s definitely a bit nuttier than in the books but that makes him interesting I think. He’s just as ruthless it would seem but in a more psychotic way if that makes any sense. And I just re-read my previous comment — what I meant was that the way the Sherlock CHARACTER is written (not the entire series) is as close to Doyle’s vision as I’ve seen so far. .

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