Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Quotable South, Part 9: What You Can Kiss

Last year, I had a running series on this blog that I called The Quotable South. It was about one-part PSA (below-the-Mason/Dixon information campaign) and two-parts personal therapy (as I had just returned down South after 6 years in the Northeast). Anyway, a good friend of mine and semi-regular contributor to this blog, Dr. Trott (a.k.a., bernadette), is about to make the long trip hot-as-hell-ward to her new home and her new job in the South. I'll be rolling out the Welcome Wagon and putting on my very finest Southern Hospitality Gear-- where did I put that parasol?-- for her early next week when she stops by Memphis, which is only about halfway to her destination. If Dr. Trott were going any further South, she'd need a passport... and fluency in Spanish.

Like most of the rest of the country, I suspect, there have been noticable shifts in the general ethos around these parts because it's an election year. For some people, that means that the South's long and proud history of fighting for justice in the name of the poor and disenfranchised has been reinvigorated. For others, it means that our semi-closeted skeletons of racism, sexism, and cultural isolationism have come out to dance again. This is a complicated place. But this is a fairly uncomplicated quote:

"'Cause I'm a front-porch sittin', guitar pickin', moonshine sippin',
biker juice spittin', country boy from the woods.
And I love fried chicken, blue-gill fishin' and outlaw women,
and I wouldn't change if I could.
I ain't trying to start no fights,
but I'll finish one everytime.
You just mind your own damn business
and stay the hell out of mine.
If you got a problem with that...
well, you can kiss my country ***."

That's from a country song by Rhett Akins, which is a hit on the radio right now. Since I know you're dying to hear the whole thing, here it is:

Fair warning, Dr. Trott, you'll hear a lot of that Rebel Flag Sentiment down here-- and although it makes for a pleasantly raunchy honky-tonk tune, it no doubt will weigh on your patience from time to time. Let me just tell you that, although it may be the position of some of the loudest people you meet (who only get LOUDER when they are imparting to you the details of what you can kiss), it's not the only pickle in the jar around here.

Dr. Trott, since you're my friend and I don't want to see you fall into the Transplanted Yankee Trap (in which Northerners move down South and think that everyone is either a backward, ignorant yokel or else something directly imported from Gone With the Wind), I'm going to let you in on a little secret... embrace the power of the "What You Can Kiss" Argument! Don't concede the battle to the Dark Side of The Force, even if you happen to be on their porch, or in their office, or at their dive bar. Think of "kiss my country a**" as the Southern equivalent of "Q.E.D."-- it could mean "I'm not arguing with you anymore because I've already made my point with abundant clarity and incontrovertible supporting evidence" OR it could just mean "I'm not arguing with you anymore because I'm about three sheets to the wind and I'm country and I feel justified in now asserting things by fiat." It's an art, really, but a fine art and one you should learn.

Wait, on second thought, it occurs to me now that I've actually heard this argumemt before somewhere... where was it?... oh yeah, in just about every Philly bar I've ever been in! As only my very best Philly friends would know, it's also an argument that I have used, several times, after copious amounts of Southern Comfort... but I digress...

Never mind, Dr. Trott, you're golden.


Dr. Trott said...

When God made me born a Yankee he was teasin'/ there's no place like home and none more pleasin'/ than the Southland in the springtime.

I'm on my way...

theorymyculture said...

Not to nitpick, but as someone living in the Northeast, I gotta tell ya: PA is not the Northeast. Mid-Atlantic. Very different.

Otherwise, awesome write-up!

DOCTOR J said...

You're right, JD. The mid-Atlantic is a whole different beast than the Notheast... but, as you know, these are details that are lost on most Southerners.

So, kiss my country a**!