Tag-Archive for » feeble attempt at humor «

Tuesday, October 08th, 2013 | Author:

About 9 months ago, I met and got to speak at length with a very prominent entertainment legend of stage and screen. During our encounter, I discussed that I’m a writer and that I’ve been working on a book for just forever now. He looked me dead in the eye and told me that, when I get my memoir finished and send him the completed, published copy, he will let me write his life story because he’s been encouraged to tell it for decades now.

I know. Opportunity of a lifetime. Got it.

And ever since then, I have continually sat down and pounded out work in hopes to finish this blasted thing already and it’s just coming in fits and starts and, almost a year later, I am right at that “It’s almost done but for the whole editing thing” part I thought I was when I spoke to him…and I am frustrated.

The problem actually is not that the creative process is halting, but that there have been so many curveballs in my recovery story that I don’t think the story is “done” yet. Just last week I learned that I was missing half of my diagnosis for the last 10 years since I started all this work on my mental health and we’re still trying to find out if this is a hormone thing or a genuine brain-based chemical imbalance; I’d hate to have written a whole book about being bipolar when it turns out I really am not. Seriously, if this all turns out to be because of woman hormones making me crazy, that’s a whole different genre altogether (and one I have a fantastic title for already.)

I don’t want to rush it. But, at the same time, I feel like it is just taking forever. I’ve honestly had piles of hand-edited documents for this thing laying around THREE home offices in THREE different towns in the last five years now. And I’ve been talking about it so much I’m sick of it.

But the thing is, I still really believe in it. And I think it’s going to be a kickass finished product because I’ve got so much material that already IS kickass and that I’m proud of. It’s just not… ready…yet. And may not be for awhile. And that’s crappy because I feel like a memoir that takes this long to write should be earth-shattering, and that seems unreasonable a standard.

I DO know I’m spending a lot of time right now editing and crafting it and giving it some sort of “flow”; I just don’t have a deadline or even a general estimate on when this project will ever be done ever. I’m not fond of that because I’ve always felt like the final stretch was within arm’s reach and the realization that it isn’t is somewhat defeating.

Hell, maybe I’m just overthinking this whole thing and should just send a pile of words and documents to an editor and prostitute myself out so I can afford for him/her to whittle it down into something palatable instead of talking about it like some mythical creature forever.

Because, frankly, the idea of being Yet Another White Lady With A Half-Finished Memoir much longer is enough to give me a behavioral disorder anyway.

Wednesday, October 02nd, 2013 | Author:

My therapist gave me the official survey used to diagnose borderline personality disorder today. I answered “yes” to 8 out of 9. I only needed 5 to be qualified.

Hey, did you know someone could have both a bipolar disorder and a borderline personality disorder? Because I sure didn’t.

The difference in the two, however, is that the former can be treated with medication, while the second is an untreatable, erratic personality disorder that has no real way of ever being sure it is getting any better and will stick with the afflicted forever and ever. Also, doctors and insurance policies routinely flee from those with BPD because it’s just one of those things someone is born with, like autism, but doesn’t have nearly as many treatment options.

I was reading an article in this month’s “Psychology Today” about BPD because I really didn’t know anything about it; I don’t know anyone with it and it isn’t discussed much. As I read through the anecdotes of the patients discussed and the typical behaviors cited by professional searchers, it was all I could do not to break down in tears because I knew I was reading an article about me. Every single fact resonated. Every anecdote sounded similar to one I knew I could cite recently and my husband would agree had happened. Over and over.

He joined me at my therapist’s office and she asked him to answer the questions on the survey as they pertained to me. He answered 8 out of 9, too.

Apparently, I’m not just mentally ill, I’m naturally fucked up, too.

I’m going to get my hormones tested to see if maybe that causes some of my behaviors. I was the happiest and most leveled out I’ve ever been when I was pregnant; maybe this is all my vagina’s fault. That cunt.

That was me trying to make a joke when I really just want to cry about it.

I had to keep looking for solutions, didn’t I? I just couldn’t stop until I knew exactly what was wrong with me.

And now I do. And it’s basically that my mind is a fucking disaster that can only be soothed but never cured and may just make me impulsive and overzealous with my emotions and generally neurotic/psychotic my entire life.

Shit.

Well, now I know why I’ve had no Divine Inspiration to finish the book; it seems I’m not done with the storyline.

Friday, May 10th, 2013 | Author:

When I was 17, I was horny. I was not a Democrat or a Republican. I wasn’t caught up in social climes or busy trying to push an agenda on anyone, or busy delving into the annals of the Women’s Rights Movement, or screaming about the horrors of abstinence-only sex ed.
I just wanted to get laid by my boyfriend.
That’s it.

Believe it or not, my high school boyfriend and I waited a year and a half before we finally decided to go for it (which, in teenage years is roughly a millenium, I believe) and, it may be shocking to many of you out there, but we absolutely used protection. Every single time. AND we agreed to never have sex if either of us was drunk. And then, a few months in, I considered putting myself on birth control, which was a huge inner struggle for me because, you know, only “skanks” and “sluts” get on birth control… I didn’t want to be known as a slut, but I also didn’t want to get pregnant and wind up “barefoot and in a trailer”, of which a friend had warned me when I told her we could always try “pulling out.”

Knowing that my mom would chain me to the confines of my room if I expressed my intentions of getting protected to her, I talked to other girls at my school (in the bathroom. Duh.) and learned that the South Carolina (where I lived at the time) Department of Health would provide me with thorough education about birth control, a safe, full gynecological exam, and free birth control.

With absolute terror, I attended the mandatory educational session (with aforementioned boyfriend in tow, who totally deserves credit for holding my hand in a room filled with teenage girls trying to get birth control. Dang. I must’ve been hot shit in the sack… hunh…) The girls in the small classroom and I looked at each other; I recognized one of my sisters’ friends and my immediately thought, “Oh no! What is SHE doing here!? She seemed so nice!” I felt so dirty and ashamed of us. I wasn’t “poor” or “slutty” or “trashy”; I came from a nice family in the suburbs! How did I end up here?! I didn’t tell anybody but my very closest friends, and I cried a lot about how shady the whole thing felt and how guilty I felt for doing this supposedly terrible thing; I wanted my mom to be with me to guide me through this, yet I didn’t dare tell her because I knew she’d be disgusted and embarrassed by me.

Anyway, for the next year-and-change, I kept going back to SCDHEC for checkups and prescription refills. Every time I went, the staff was careful and kind, gentle and comforting, but frank about what I needed and should be considering. I can’t believe I’m praising the South Carolina government, but this program is among one of their best efforts. I was having sex before I put myself on birth control, and I have no doubt that I would’ve continued even if I’d never heard about this program. It was going to happen; I had raging hormones, a boyfriend, and a free schedule. However, where my parents and society’s expectations of a “decent young lady” failed me, the Health Department supported and gave me the resources I needed to continue having healthy sex and a happy life.

When my mom was lecturing me about the inherent evils of sex before marriage after she found out about my foray into doin’ it, I told her I was getting birth control from the government. She gasped, “They can’t do that!!!” and I may’ve laughed at her.

At the time, I actually took for granted what was being given to me for free. In fact, I felt like it was a punishment for being so disgustingly wanton and perverted, instead of looking at it as an incredible gift given by a forward-thinking, post-feminist society. For years I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I’d chosen to sneak around and get birth control from the government, like some trashy loose woman.. or a hooker! (::gaaaaasp!!:::)

Now as an adult, I know, first of all, that prostitutes pay for their own OB/GYNs because they get tested more often than the Department of Health will regulate and, also, they have more money than I did working part-time at the Chick-Fil-A double drive-thru, and secondly, just how much the government saved my ass back then. They knew I was going to start having sex; it’s what hyper-hormonal teenage bodies are intended to do, people. It’s science.

The fact that SCDHEC was right there with information and easily-accessible public birth control information and medicines is both amazing and wonderful to me. I haven’t needed their help in over a decade, but I am so, so very grateful that it was there for me when I needed it, so that that terrified teenage girl with all the social stigmas weighing on her wouldn’t have been strapped to a life of motherhood she would have felt only guilty of. They gave me comfort and someone to talk to about real, pertinent issues that were going on with me and my immediate needs; their female doctors were gentle and informative about my body and what I was going to experience; they gave me a chance to have a happy young adulthood and the freedom to do it on my own. The idea that I ever took that for granted embarrasses me, but I felt like I should find a place to discuss it publicly.

I’m not interested in political parties. I’m not interested in talking about who is lobbying for what and how specific politicians are somehow more amoral than others and how the idiots barking on television about those politicians are fueled by Satan/the Nazi party/Illuminati/Communism. I just want to talk about people who, like me, need information and help and cannot get it from anywhere else except public services. I was given that gift and I believe in an America where everyone else deserves that, too. I would happily give a few extra tax dollars to help a 17 year old girl safely learn about sex and her body with the right tools and information at hand, because others did it for me. It’s just that simple, really.

Tuesday, April 02nd, 2013 | Author:

It’s a Tuesday and you’re just, you know, not. You could drag yourself into public and shuffle among the masses, questioning your inherent self-worth and life’s ultimate purpose, or you could make yourself an event for others to appreciate with little to no effort. Your choice!

Just follow these three easy steps and you’ll be shocked at how much dignity and respect you get anywhere you go!

1) Dress entirely too nicely for where you plan to be for the day. Look, my Gran wore a red and black Chanel suit to my first birthday party, which was held at my parents’ kitchen table with only them and my other grandparents in attendance. You know what everyone else wore? Doesn’t matter. If you’re the best dressed person in the room, people are going to notice and feel underdressed in response. The outfit should be flawless (no rips or tears, wear accessories appropriately, etc. You aren’t in the drunk tank; have some dignity.) but DO NOT worry about doing your hair or makeup. The clothes will do the work. Also note that “nice clothes” doesn’t automatically mean “expensive garb”. As long as it’s classy and well-tailored, it doesn’t matter what the price tag said. Costume jewelry and props (cigarette holders, muffs, parasols, opera glasses) are ideal, but pick one only; you aren’t a circus.

2) Gigantic sunglasses are imperative. Nobody has to know you’re suffering from seasonal allergies/pink eye and just don’t feel like putting on any makeup or making eye-contact like a grown up. Gigantic shades make you look glamorous, aloof, and preoccupied with some residual ailment obtained from somewhere in your busy, socially exhausting agenda. Maybe you were up all night drinking with an old friend in his penthouse at the W after he finished performing a one-night-only gig at the biggest venue in town. Maybe your eyes are bleary from chomping stogies over poker with some politicians’ wives. Maybe you’ve been up for three days cranking out your masterpiece so your agent will quit pestering you. Honestly, maybe you were doing none of those things and are exhausted from caring for a fussy, sick kid all week; however, your fancy clothes and fab sunglasses tell a totally different story. The more gigantic and audacious the better! You’re not here to answer to the masses’ aesthetics; you have a life. If you’re a lady, don’t be afraid to don some men’s shades; perhaps you swiped them off your lover’s nightstand as you dashed out of the house. Plus, sunglasses are an invaluable tool for communicating with those around you and getting what you want. I’ll explain in a minute.

3) How you carry yourself is of the most importance here. You can’t just stroll around wearing fancy duds and acting totally normal; then your outfit is a hindrance to your cause and not an asset. Plus, you’ll look a little delusional, Miss Havisham. Instead, you immediately need to adopt the mentality that it is simply too early to be wherever you are, no matter what time of day it is. Even if it’s 5 p.m, it is too blasted early for all this effort, don’t you agree? Tilt your chin slightly upward; you’d be facedown in a gutter and still be looking down your nose at this wretched sunlight. PLEASE NOTE: This DOES NOT mean that you are angry at or spiteful toward everyone else! Treating people like crap will only get spit in your food and no extra favors! (Plus, you’re hideous when you’re upset.) You must act as if you and everyone around you have all been shuffled out of necessary slumber to attend to whatever tedium it is that has to be done today. Treat everyone as if they are your allies in this unbearable travesty; act impressed that they are all holding themselves together so well in the face of this apparent adversity. (People dig feeling like they’re accomplishing something or that others think they’re awesome for just being themselves. Flattery gets you everywhere.) Speak softly so everyone has to be quiet and lean in intimately to hear you, and lay on the pet names, especially if you’re in the South. Treat people who wait on you (sales clerks, servers, etc.) as though they’re doing you an incredible favor and providing you with great relief and convenience you could never live without in your condition. Be sure to lower your chin and speak conspiratorially to them over your shades; let them know you feel their pain. Touch people gently on the arm when asking for assistance; be sure to thank them sincerely. If you want to treat yourself to something edible, do so boldly, as though you’re rewarding yourself for soldiering on through this ghastly sunshine. This can work for any budget. If you buy something cheap, then giggle about how you’re “slumming it” for fun with a Cheerwine and a Slim Jim for breakfast, like a mischievous child. If you buy something decadent, then it’s because you simply can’t be expected to settle for all of life’s shortcomings. Either way, you deserve this treat! And so does everyone else! We all work so hard and we don’t get any of the love we truly need; let’s change all that and give it to ourselves and each other. We can change the world!

Above all, stay classy. You can be a little loose and seem a tad fatigued, but seeming disoriented or wobbly screams “can’t handle booze” which is the foremost faux pas for any fabulous person.

And there we are. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011 | Author:

1) Thinking of aliases to assign my life’s antagonists is FUN.
(as in: “Chet was the kind of douchenozzle who boasted to everybody he met about being a ‘good guy’ despite his rampant self-loathing.”) (Uh, I don’t know anybody named “Chet”.)

2) Thinking of evil super-villain names to assign my nemeses is SUPER FUN.
(as in: “I still effing hate Medurncqes and Dr. Fuqen de Fartle, despite their unnatural lust for each other.”)

3) Thinking of childish, physical-flaw-based nicknames to assign aforementioned antagonists is straight-up addictive.
(as in: “For all I cared, Trollface O’Badgumratio could suck it… and probably did.

Sunday, October 02nd, 2011 | Author:

Let the record show that I have been a size 10 or larger (usually larger) since the 8th grade.
I’d like to submit this unedited photo of myself wearing size 6 jeans today (while angels apparently sang, judging by the [also unedited] lighting in this image.)

My new jeans.

Holl. Ah.

Monday, June 06th, 2011 | Author:

Oh, heeeey, Crazy Mind!

Y’know, I was using all that sudden, unexpected mania you’ve been hurling at me recently to fire off an angry missive to you about it late last night until I realized you might actually be really impressed with how innovatively I’ve upcycled your spiteful curveballs. So I thought I’d share, ’cause I’m actually quite proud of my results and you know how I like to talk it out with you when we’ve been at odds. Have a seat.

See, originally, I was admittedly pretty pissed at you for throwing in such an underhanded game-changer this far into our relationship. I thought we had a decent arrangement going; after years of torment, you let me settle into a “normal” life and only drag your crippling depression out once a year just to, I dunno, prove you still can or something. And, sure, I’d acquired enough tools in my belt to handle your inevitable arrivals and just kind of wait them out without getting all self-loath-y and self-destructive, which may have pissed you off a little, but you brought out some new tricks of your own to up your efficiency (like this year when you introduced your new “drooling on myself unconsciously while staring into the middle distance and, thus, taking my self-confidence down a peg or two” app. Quite effective at rattling my sense of sanity. Good work on your part.) so I just thought we’d continue like that for forever. I’d accepted that as a highly probable life path and was cool with working around it so that we could interact without it turning into a downward spiral again. But I guess my implementing active recovery on you these last few years and not bothering to toy with the idea of self-harm ever again must’ve pissed you off something fierce.

And, I gotta hand it to you, springing an abrupt series of mania on me was a damned genius plan on your part. Seriously, not only is it the polar opposite of what I’m well-adjusted to and prepared for but it completely manipulated my strengths and my penchant for ongoing recovery so that my manic episodes were spent obsessing about how to right past wrongs and address old, unanswered questions and other “Step 9″ motives we all know I worry about too much when I’m leveled off. So, not only did I have this crazy super-energy keeping me up all night and this unusual sense of overblown confidence (which, apparently, is a symptom of mania I was not aware of) but I also had you using my good intentions and deeply-rooted beliefs in daily recovery practices as fuel AND justification for my resulting actions. Well played, indeed!

Unfortunately, however, your plan kind of backfired on you, ultimately. Oh, sure, I spent a handful of sleepless nights hammering out massive emails to people in my past to whom I felt deserved an apology (but who, in reality, probably never needed or wanted one or even remembered the original problem) and, with my good intentions squarely before me, I made sure to really delve into the topics at hand on all emotional, personal, psychological and philosophical levels for what I thought would be the benefit of the reader. After these emails came an exchange with an old friend with whom I’d had a brief… fling? (we never really defined it) that ended abruptly and from whom I’d kind of always wanted to know what happened, during which I continued my oversharing, babbling rhetoric. And even after that, there was the completely irrational overreaction to a friend’s response on a debate in freaking Facebook that caused me to panic and send her 7 text messages apologizing for any inadvertent insult I may have delivered while expressing disagreement. Naturally, after each of these instances, I would step back and think, “WHOAWHATTHEFUCKAMIDOING!??!” and feel genuine fear at my inability to stop these impulses that seemed so necessary and imperative while I was implementing them. And then there was the terror of trying to control myself at night by just lying down and trying to breathe while my brain whirred with worry and the desire to get up and remedy things (friendships, messy dishes, touch-up paint jobs… didn’t matter) and my body wouldn’t lie still and I had this constant urge to just start screaming. Oh yeah, your plan was fucking effective; it scared the shit out of me with the idea that there was a new type of Crazy going on and you were somehow evolving along with my recovery, it destroyed my moods during the days when I was delirious from insomnia, it made me mortified when I revisited the crazed messages I’d been sending out, it made me stop trusting myself… you did well.

But, again, it didn’t work. I’d lie and say that I hate to crush your hopes because I know you worked really hard on all this and had a lot of hopes for it but, really, I do like to gloat about crushing your intentions.

See, unfortunately, the people to whom I sent my blathering volumes of hopeful reconciliation turned out to be genuinely chill and understanding and responded with casual appreciation for me having broached the subject. (And NONE of them sounded terrified by my overzealous rambling.) So that part turned out to be nothing but beneficial and did, incidentally, help in my overall recovery. Thanks!

Also, my deteriorating demeanor finally pushed my husband to be honest with me about how my depression has been affecting him and our marriage negatively (a big deal for him) and we sat down and made a game plan for how I could better manage his generosity and kindness without sapping him of energy or neglecting his needs. And that lead to us having one of those big happy talks about why we love each other and what we appreciate in each other as people and how genuinely happy we are to be together. And then we had a freaking amazing two-person bedroom party (seriously, it was in the Top 2 or 3 ever.) And now I’m all motivated to shift my focus and work harder on managing myself in terms of my role as a family member as opposed to just someone with depression. So thanks for that, too!

Oh yeah! And then! When I posted something publicly to vent about how your little week-o-fuckery was making me a walking social disaster, my friends came out of the woodwork to tell me that that’s actually something THEY LIKE in my character (in moderation, of course.) And, during all this, when I went to whine on my blog (to God, specifically) with self-centered pity about how rough I’ve been having it in the spiritual/emotional department (which, by the way, disgusts myself and is kind of painfully redundant when you look at everything I’ve written here over the years) people still came out to send good vibes and wish me well. I know! Craziness, right!?

Ohohoh! And I lost that ten pounds (and change) I’ve been freaking out about since January because I’ve been weirdly not hungry but have been loaded with energy. THANKS A BUNCH!

So, I guess what I’m really, ultimately trying to say here, Crazy Mind of Mine, is FUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCK YOOOOOOOOOOOU.

Gleefully still alive in every possible sense,

L P-S

Thursday, April 15th, 2010 | Author:

NOTE: The Southern Delicacies subseries will be intermingled amongst full-size entries.*

The Hushpuppy

Most commonly seen at local fried seafood houses and barbecue joints, the Southern hushpuppy is among many unsung culinary treasures in the South. Originating during the Civil War, hushpuppies were small nuggets of leftover cornbread, carried in the pockets of Confederate soldiers to feed to their dogs in order to keep them silent on the warpath. (Hence the name.) Now, they’ve morphed into a combination between cornbread, cake and a doughnut and are simply divine when still steaming and dunked into a dish of soft honey-butter. Strangely, hushpuppies aren’t usually seen in homecooked meals but are sometimes found at high-end seafood restaurants in attempts to boast an authentic Southern atmosphere. This effort is usually successful if the restaurant owner or sous chef is a native of the South but any attempt to make hushpuppies by a Yankee will be severely scorned unless his or her parents are Southerners, due to the strict I-Know-Your-Mama/Who’s-Yer-Papa clause.

* OTHER NOTE: Because of the incredible popularity of these blog entries, I’ve bought another domain and am working on setting up a separate blog just for this subject (one reason why this entry is so short), so I can still write about my personal life here and those people who are just interested in reading about Southernisms don’t have to wade through my self-indulgence. I’ll let you know when it’s up. ::sigh:: Like I don’t have enough going on right now. Ah well, at least I genuinely love all the projects I’m working on, even if I’m running out of burners to keep these pots on.

Sunday, April 11th, 2010 | Author:

Look, I’m as anti-corporation and overspending as Rev. Billy and The Church of Stop Shopping as I hate how the big superstores are wrecking and sapping the character out of small town America and treating their employees like slaves and outsourcing labor to underpaid poverty-stricken villages. However, there are a handful of Southern-based food corporations that are just plain doin’ us proud and that, frankly, I don’t ever want to live without.

Now, the obvious go-to Southern corporation is a little mom-and-pop company called Coca-Cola you may or may not be familiar with. Oh, good lordy, I’ve never seen a group of people so excited to scream their name repeatedly across the globe for the sake of indoctrination (well, other than Disney… and McDonald’s… and America… but still!) and, honestly, the marketing has gone from cute and innocent to outright ridiculous. For example, if you should ever have the time/money you’d like to dump in a sewer, you may want to visit Coca-Cola’s museum, located in the beverage’s native town of Atlanta, Georgia. There, you’ll learn about the “rich history” of this admittedly delicious drink and be exposed to more hyper-sentimental advertising than you can possibly imagine. Coca-Cola proudly shows montages of their archived ad campaigns, where they subtly claim to have inspired greatness, unified cultures and genuinely changed the world for the better since their founding. You’ll see images of WWII soldiers coming home from war, being greeted with a Coke at the door and Special Olympians breaking the ribbon at the finish line just before enjoying a fresh Coke and shoeless African children smiling with glass bottles of Coke in their hands and, oh! It’s just so special and powerful and makes you want to buy seven cases and hand them out to new friends on your way back to your car.

Here’s the secret: Southerners aren’t that impressed. I mean, we love Coke and all but we don’t brag about it being part of our culture the way we do with other things. And, yes, Georgians love Coke because it’s part of their specific heritage and it brings a crapload of income to their state but the rest of us just think Coke has gone and gotten “too good for it’s raisin’” and we don’t take kindly to that.

Same goes for Pepsi, although they have more fun in their advertising, so we let them slide.

FUN FACT: In every blind study since the company was founded, RC Cola has beaten both Pepsi and Coke in taste tests. True story.

Let’s get to the good stuff. This particular entry is dedicated to Southern foodie corps in the restaurant realm.

First up is a small company from my original hometown of Burlington, NC. Now, the company isn’t huge, per se, but they’ve far surpassed the multi-million dollar mark and are growing exponentially. If you know of Biscuitville then you “get it”. You’re already wiping drool from your chin and thinking about the sting those flat, spicy sausage patties leave on your tongue. However, the legendary biscuits are an old secret from a family my dad’s parents are apparently close friends with. The story goes that, when the grandmother of Biscuitville’s founders passed away she allowed the brothers a choice: One could have the farm and the other could have her biscuit recipe. (My dad rolls his eyes at this, but it makes for a great marketing angle.) Now, the company owns over 50 restaurants in NC and VA (that are PACKED from 7-10 every day of the week) and has no plans to slow down.

But no Southerner is dumb enough to try to compare Biscuitville with the holy institute of Bojangles. The North Carolina-based company sells roughly 3 bajillion “Cajun-style” spicy chicken breasts on warm, buttery biscuits every year to thousands of Southeasterners who have no idea whether or not it tastes like anything from America’s Cajun community and really don’t even care. While you could treat yourself to a side of “Botato Rounds” (tater tots) or “dirty rice”, you might as well experience real bliss by getting their spicy seasoned fries, which will make you contemplate selling your home/car/children to afford bulk quantities of. Top it all off with a bucket of their award-winning sweet tea (it’s the best fast-food sweet tea out there as far as I’m concerned) and you’ve entered nirvana, my friend. (Silly Buddhists and their silent fasting – don’t they know the same effect can be achieved in a deep-fried-with-a-side-of-sugar-water format?) And, much like sweet tea at an afternoon picnic, a tailgate party just isn’t a real tailgate party without a Bojangles Tailgate Deal (or two) in tow. Kentucky Fried whatwhonow?

Alright, say what you want about KFC and their world domination tactics (they have them in Australia but nobody bothered to tell those poor people what “KFC” stood for. Sacrilege!), they don’t deserve half the credit earned by the illustrious, hallowed Chick-Fil-A. Chick-Fil-A started as a mall-vendor-style franchise and began breaking off into freestanding restaurants… um… sometime. Anyway, now they have some 1,500 restaurants in 38 states and are only growing, slowly but steadily. Chick-Fil-A makes the best effing chicken sandwiches you will ever experience in your whole life, with chicken coated in a secret mix of spices and flour, fried and laid atop two signature pickle slices between two freshly buttered buns. Naturally, they offer this chicken in nugget form, although the chicken strips are made by soaking the chicken in buttermilk overnight before fryin’ ‘em up the next day. Pair this with their monstrous waffle fries and a giant lemonade and it just may be the best day of your life. (The lemonade is all freshly squeezed by hand, by the way. I know this because I used to do it. See the next FUN FACT below.)

Chick-Fil-A is run by the single creepiest-looking old guy you’ll ever see in your life, who likes to boast about his generosity and altruism a LOT. Much like Coca-Cola, the company looooves for customers to believe that they’re the patron saints of the South, giving to the needy, sending college kids to school, building summer camps for special needs kids, etc. And, sure, they do some charitable work but, more often than not, their loud self-promotion far outweighs the progress or impact they actually make. (For example: In order to earn the Chick-Fil-A scholarship – $1,000 – a high school employee must have worked at the restaurant for 30+ hours every week for at least a year AND must have a 3.5 GPA… which is – of course – impossible if his/her life is being monopolized by working at a fast food joint for $6 an hour.)

Oh, and Chick-Fil-A has also had this ongoing ad campaign that involves cows pleading with the public to “EET MOR CHICKIN”, in order to spare their bovine hides from human consumption. Sure, it was an adorable concept in 1995 when it first launched, eliciting microscopic chuckles from those who noticed, but the humor flew the coop (see what I did there?! hilarious!) some 10 years ago and now it’s just painful to deal with, like a 6 year old who milks a joke (again! I’m on fie-yah!) until you want to lock them in their rooms for the afternoon. (I guess they’re beating the dead cow on this one. Ba-ZING!)

FUN FACT: My first part-time job was working the drive-thru at a Chick-Fil-A across from a whorehouse, just a few roads over from Ocean Blvd. in Myrtle Beach, SC. And I highly recommend you never ever eat at that one, as the poor management lead to a group of guys bleaching their hair over the food prep station one night, breaking into co-ed fights over the fry station/in the freezer/in the back office, and a whole array of other unspeakably revolting acts that happened routinely. (I’m really not exaggerating.) The rest of the Chick-Fil-A’s in that town are manned by another guy who’s impeccable with his managerial tactics, so those places are safe.

Oh, and once when I worked there, a male stripper asked us to borrow our cow costume for a new routine he had in mind. We said “Um, how about no.” and men in cow costumes have bothered me ever since.

Southerners are not completely obsessed with the varied art forms of preparing fried chicken, however. Sitting humbly off hundreds of truck stops across the Southeast, Waffle House is one of those Southern staples that elicits feelings similar to those associated with that one weird cousin you have who doesn’t bathe every day and brings questionable company to family gatherings. (Or, in my family: me.) I believe one stand-up comic [whose name escapes me at the moment] really hit the nail on the head when he described Waffle House as “a truck stop bathroom that serves food.” Don’t get me wrong; the place has substantial breakfast foods and can whip up a mean omelette but nobody will ever stumble in there for a fine dining experience or even a classy Sunday brunch. Everybody knows that Waffle House was established for the delight and convenience of truckers and drunk people. This point is vindicated by the fact that the restaurant’s menus include illustrations for those unable to enunciate their orders.

However, no matter how sober, fatigued or starving-and-desperate you are when you find yourself in one of the 1,600+ Waffle House’s in the U.S., you’re never going to leave without having experienced the franchise’s own brand of magic. Of all the great Southern corporate restaurants, Waffle House is unique in its ability to display the most character and authentic flavor of Americana. Despite the industrial, sterile, hard lines and black-and-white tiles of the diner, Waffle House brims with color, brought in fresh by the incredible diversity of those who eat there. I don’t know why there’s a website dedicated to the freak show that is Wal-Mart clientele when there isn’t one for Waffle House. At Waffle House, there is an equal level of insanity but with a few ounces of Shady stirred in. You’re not likely to see anything too crazy in the morning hours but, after nightfall, any Waffle House in the country becomes a blossoming hub of ethnographic exploration. There is no singular demographic for the late-night Waffle House customer base. You may see a pimp with three of his… um… employees sitting at a booth right behind four middle-aged women with towering hair and Day-glow eyeshadow getting coffee on the way home from their Baptist Women’s Trio rehearsal. Truckers strike up optimistic conversations with strippers who are just off the clock or drunken sorority girls whose dates have gone to the bathroom for a suspiciously long amount of time. The real party begins when someone has the courage to walk up to the diner’s jukebox and play one of 12 Waffle House-themed ditties that nobody will ever learn the words to. Yes, if you want a thorough study of contemporary Southern humanity, don’t waste your time doing field work going door to door in small rural towns; just pick out a corner booth at their town’s Waffle House a little before dusk and wait for the magic to happen. And feel free to enjoy the coffee refills while you’re there.

FUN FACT: Waffle House sells more steak than any other American restaurant franchise. I don’t know how I know this.

I would be written out of my family’s will and cast out of society if I forgot to mention Krispy Kreme in this article. Simply put, Krispy Kreme doughnuts are the second best thing God has ever given us.

As I’ve mentioned before, the only time you should really be terrified of Southerners en masse is when the Hot Doughnuts Now sign flickers to life when you’re in traffic. Like a beacon of rapture and acceptance, the glow acts as a homing device for anyone within 4.39 miles of the restaurant, signaling to Southerners that the time for joy is now! Happiness and fulfillment is just a few quarters away!

The Krispy Kreme formula is a simple one: fried dough + sugar = magic. The empire started in the small-ish city of Winston-Salem, NC in the late 1930′s and, while you’d think that there would be dozens of similar corporations, somehow Krispy Kreme was the one that created The Perfect Doughnut.

At some of the older restaurants you can see the doughnuts being made, although I should warn you, it’s both an erotic and spiritual experience, which may be disruptive to anyone who isn’t fully stable and prepared for such a disconcerting event. You can watch an endless stream of circular dough float through a canal of oil, being gently rotated by loving, angelic automatic arms and then bounding up onto a conveyor belt where it bounces along toward a cascading curtain of glaze, shimmering in the early-morning sun. I’ve been brought to tears by the majesty myself.

FUN FACT: There’s actually a Krispy Kreme museum, by the way. I believe the theme is “Heaven: Behind the Scenes”.

In the last few decades, Krispy Kreme has really taken off and is now an international franchise, much to the amusement and slight smugness of Southerners.

A few years ago Southern writer Celia Rivenbark wrote a hilarious diatribe about how KK has gotten too big for it’s britches and is now just another trendy accessory seen in the hands of celebrities, not unlike the pocketbook poodle or windshield-sized sunglasses. She balked at the audacity of the company to put reheating instructions on the side of the box, declaring, “Reheat?!?! Everyone knows you don’t reheat Krispy Kremes! You eat them at the cash register while you’re fishing change out of your pockets and trying not to burn your fingers!” (If you’re Southern and you’ve done that, clap your hands. ::clap! clap!::)

But, unlike Coke (or “Ko-Koler”, depending on how far South you are) Krispy Kreme is still something that we cherish and proudly call our own here in the South. Maybe it’s because the company isn’t claiming to be saving the world – although it very well may be – or maybe because it hasn’t sold out and tried to change its image to something more relevant or maybe it’s because eating there makes us feel like we’re getting a hug from God, but, whatever the case, we take pride in being the people that are giving the world the gift of The Perfect Doughnut.

And, while their coffee may be pretty great, no self-respecting, moral Southerner would ever admit to enjoying Dunkin Donuts as anything other than a last-resort substitute.

A lot of Southerners have been screaming that “The South Will Rise AGIN’!” for decades, but nobody else expected us to come up so stealthily. We’ll call America ours one day as we slowly climb toward world domination, one Waffle House at a time.

MUAHAhahahahahahaha!!!

——————
NOTE: Anything that didn’t make the cut wasn’t important enough (in my opinion, of course, ’cause I write these) to qualify as part of the Southern corporate culinary canon. Oh, I know there are some great ones out there but I don’t have time to get into specifics; I need to educate the outsiders on the imperative knowledge before their attention wanes. Maybe if this series goes on long enough I can incorporate some of the smaller companies. We’ll see.

Monday, April 05th, 2010 | Author:

NOTE: I’ve decided that it’s best for me not to preemptively decide my new topics because then they feel like a chore and my writing just sounds forced and incomplete. There are too many things I’m excited to talk about as well, so I don’t want to waste time with mediocre essays. From now on, we’re talking about what I want to talk about when I wanna talk about it, enkay?

This issue includes two separate but equal Southern fine arts.

The Fine Art of Sweet Tea: House Wine of the South

When I studied abroad I met some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met and decided to throw myself a farewell party and cook my friends a Southern feast. I made fried chicken, biscuits (the Paula Deen recipe. Duh), green beans slow-simmered with a ham hock, marinated summer veggies and a few other things that escape my memory at the moment. (I do remember a lot of gawking at the required portions of butter and sugar necessary for these delicacies.) Additionally, I made two giant pitchers of sweetened iced tea, one in regular flavor and the other in peach or raspberry or something. Needless to say, my guests completely ignored the wine on hand in favor of the brewed confection and drained both pitchers within the first half hour.

My mother called sweet tea the “house wine of the South” and I can honestly never remember a time when there wasn’t an old milk jug full of it in our home. As in almost all Southern households, it is the first thing offered to guests (my mom would even give it out in to-go cups to Jehovah’s Witnesses who knocked on her door as a consolation prize of sorts for not being able to convert her) and is present in at least one meal every day. To say that sweet tea is a staple is a bit misleading; in truth, it is an essential part of the Southern lifestyle.

Before I go any further, let’s get two things straight right here and now:

1) Sweet tea is not cold tea with some sugar stirred in. This is a form of blasphemy in the South.  You can always tell a Yankee who’s trying to dip their toe in Southern culture by their habit of stirring Sweet ‘N Low into a cold glass of unsweetened tea. (bleuck!) Every self-respecting Southerner knows that any sweet tea worth drinking has the sugar (or Splenda. See? We can keep up with the times!) boiled in just before you steep the tea and remove the pot from the heat. The fusion is what gives sweet tea that smooth, sweet taste that doesn’t bite or have a grainy texture like undissolved raw sugar tends to.

2) The sweet tea you get at loud, crowded seafood houses or independent pancake houses in the South is NOT what we drink on a regular basis. This is Karo syrup with water and dye mixed in and is so sweet that most Southerners can’t even finish a glass of it without copious amounts of lemon juice and a few extra cups of ice.

Sweet tea is a time-honored tradition that seeps into every orifice of Southern culture. Many women spend time perfecting their recipe and are filled with more joy and pride when complimented on their unique brew than they are when receiving praise for their tangible possessions, household, sartorial choices, childrens’ intelligence, etc. And, although you’d think that sweet tea is more or less the same, women will INSIST on telling you their “secret” to the perfect pitcher the very second you show your approval of their artistic expression.

However, if a hostess chooses to serve a flavored tea (usually raspberry or peach, although I have seen currant, orange and blackberry) at a gathering it is considered a bit of a novelty and each guest will take a small glass of it to sample, not unlike what is done at a wine tasting. Guests all inherently know that it is important for everyone to try the “special” tea before going in for seconds or even a full glass, although all these rules are negated if the hostess admits to using a prefab tea mix. (This is only permitted without judgment if the hostess has a full-time job, more than one child or is over the age of 65.) Additionally, there will ALWAYS be a pitcher of regular sweet tea on the table as per the norm, because a flavored tea or special brew is regarded as a casual cocktail, whereas sweet tea is a simple accompaniment to a meal. Much like the Japanese regard rice, a Southern party (particularly those held during the summer) is considered incomplete or an outright failure if there is not sweet tea somewhere on the spread, even if nobody drinks it. However, this is not something a Southerner would ever admit out loud and is usually not something that is even discussed. But when there is no sweet tea at an afternoon or evening gathering in the South, each guest will leave with a dull ache in their stomach and the feeling that something just isn’t quite right, although they probably couldn’t put their finger on what it was exactly.

Finding one’s personal sweet tea preference is the equivalent to finding one’s True Self in the South, often becoming a spiritual journey that takes years of soul-searching and meditation through dozens of phases and evolution. What your signature sweet tea tastes like says a lot about you as a person. Maybe you like yours watered down with more lemon, maybe you boil your sugar for exactly 2.5 minutes before steeping the tea, maybe you prefer using 7 Lipton family-size teabags for every quart you make… it all directly defines who you are and how you feel about life.

Me personally? I’m a bit off the map, really. I like to brew African rooibos with some cinnamon and Splenda, let it cool in a covered pot overnight and then put it in the fridge the next morning. It’s both warm and cool at the same time and tastes like a hug. That’s my sweet tea.

The Fine Art of Implementing the Word “Honey”

Before it was adopted by drag queens snappin-in-a-”z”-formation and domestic, suburban housewives, the term “Honey” was a term of endearment coined in the South.

The CARDINAL RULE for using the term “Honey” is that you are never, under any circumstances, permitted to address someone in this fashion who is 10 or more years older than yourself especially if the person with whom you are speaking is a relative. It will be taken as an incredibly disrespectful gesture and can have you branded as “rude”, a label that does not wear off with time in the South. This is the sort of event that can cause a chain reaction within your family that can lead to things like being written out of a will. I’m not exaggerating. I can think of maaaaybe 2 circumstances in which this sort of language would be okay but they are all extremely subjective situations and are not intended to be navigated by a novice. To be safe, just stick to the rule.

Also, the only people who are socially allowed to use the term “honey child/chile” are those of African-American descent. Everyone else looks ridiculous saying this, unless they are being ironic, which they will never do in the presence of an African-American.

These days, “honey” has a vast array of uses and an enormous variety of social connotations, so those who are unfamiliar with the intricate politics of the word must be very careful when talking to a Southerner, lest they come across as an arrogant, patronizing Yankee.

There are few words that have the power to be condescending, comforting, humorous, self-depreciating, friendly or reassuring – depending on the implementation – like the word “Honey”. Allow me to give a few basic examples:

“What can I get for you, honey?” ~ In this case, the word “honey” is meant to put the speaker’s target at ease. This type of phrase can most often be heard in the presence of grandmothers or matronly waitresses at local diners. The connotation establishes the speaker as an emotional or physical caretaker and is very very seldomly used by a male figure.

“Oh, honey, you’re telling me.” ~ In this case, the speaker is attempting to show empathy and express a sense of camaraderie with the person he or she is addressing. This immediately gives the conversation a tone of understanding and mutual respect with a playful, familiar atmosphere. This version of the term can be seen in a conversation with a gas station clerk as easily as it can between old friends. In both, the intent is identical.

Ohh, hooonney…” ~ If this sentence is not immediately followed with “I’m so sorry”, then the apology is automatically implied. Using the term “honey” as a means to comfort someone is acceptable so long as the misery of the other person is not your fault. If you are the cause for someone else’s unhappiness, calling them “honey” will only belittle them and act as an underhanded power play. (This is often used in long-term relationships as a way to say “I’m sorry, but I’m still in charge here.”) The comfort-mode “honey” can be used with many different people, from acquaintances to close friends to children to complete strangers, again, so long as that person is NOT 10+ years older than yourself.

“Oooh, honey!” ~ This exclamation is a means to congratulate someone and offer them encouragement. It can be heard prefacing such statements as “Look at you all dressed up/climbing the corporate ladder/landing yourself a good-lookin’ man/driving that fancy car.” (This is when the term “honey child” is most likely to come into play.)

“Oh, honey, no.” ~ This particular usage is a backhanded way of insulting someone’s intelligence. By masking his or her disapproval as caring sympathy, the speaker creates a tone that allows him or her to insult someone else’s choices without deeply offending them. (ex: “Oh, honey. No. That dress looks like you let your cat play with it for an hour before you put it on.”)

“Oh, honey, I wouldn’t @#$! with me if you knew what was good for you.” ~ This is the implementation of “honey” that is meant to be both ironic and condescending. By calling an opponent “honey”, the speaker is making light of a situation, inferring that he or she is superior to the other person and able to take on such an inferior foe without much effort or emotional investment. Although “honey” is usually used to show affection, this ironic use leans more toward the “honey” that signifies pity. The practice of “honey” in this snide connotation can be used with close acquaintances, complete strangers, younger family members and annoying little brats but is never used in arguments between close friends unless the friendship is close to inevitable demise. (It’s hard to recover from this sort of demeaning remark when used in a legitimate argument.)

Honestly, I could go on and on with examples, although the differences in the utilization of the word will become very situation-specific and are likely to confuse readers who are completely foreign to this practice. However, I think the above examples cover most of the general effects “honey” is capable of.

All this being said, I strongly believe that, unlike learning a foreign language, a novice to the practice of using “honey” in everyday speech should spend a copious amount of time observing the art of implementing this term. Because of the delicacy of the term’s social implications, a potential user should be sure he or she knows all the subtle nuances of the language before engaging in participation.