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The Uncertainty of Being Southern

As my husband ate a haystack, munching away, I thought about my earlier conversation with the man at the fireplace shop. “Why are they called dog irons?” I asked. I only asked the man this question after walking through his entire 50,000 square foot store and not seeing one dog on the fireplace equipment. He said, “They’re not. They’re andirons.”

Southern corruption, I mused, and kept on trucking. Until I ran into haystacks.

Are they really called haystacks, those little clumps of chocolate and chow mein noodles, or is that another “regional” word . . . like “running buddies” that don’t jog, “church keys” that don’t belong in church, “dopp kits” that a California editor wanted me to remove from my story because he didn’t believe there was any such of a thing as a dopp kit?

Who knows.

Such is my life as a Southerner: tooling along, living with the uncertainty that you may be ignorantly using a word that actually isn’t a word at all. My heritage, immune to four years of college, three years of law school, and untold years of Cheever, Malamud, Tolstoy, Celine, Fuentes, and all the other greats of literature who I’m sure only ever used regionalisms when they fully knew what they were doing.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

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Comments (2)

  • Hi Ellen …. on Southernspeak… a few days ago on The Today Show a Wheel of Fortune contestant from Florida talked about how she lost thousands of dollars by dropping the ‘g’ on the end of her answer to the puzzle. The answer was “seven swans a-swimming” and she said ‘seven swans a-swimmin”. They said that was not the correct answer and she lost the prize money. They have their rules. In the Today interview she said “Yes, it was disappointin’ ……”
    Merry Christmas!

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