If you are a regular reader of this column you are aware that I devote a lot of time and energy to maintaining my Southerness. It’s not an easy thing in today’s society. Air-conditioning, television and the Eisenhower Interstate System have worked together to mix and blend and combine our American culture to the point that I sometimes feel like the Last Southerner, crying in a wilderness of convoluted ––– ness.
Many people have asked me, over the past decade especially, how they can know if they are still in touch with their Southern roots. Even expatriate Northern Americans, wanting to become nationalized, have sought help in determining how to evaluate their Southerness.
Ten years ago I held my very first Institute of Southern Culture, in which I went to great lengths to explain how to embrace one’s Southern heritage. Earlier this week I held my second such training session, in an effort to raise money for a charity that is close to my heart. Since the number of attendees was limited and since most of you never even knew about it, today I will offer, as a public service, my own quiz, updated from 10 years ago, so that you can determine just how Southern you actually happen to be.
If you were born and raised in a state of the Southern Confederacy give yourself 50 points to begin with. If that state was Florida, subtract 15. If it was Alabama or Mississippi, add 15. If you were born outside the South but got here as quick as you could and realize how lucky you are to be here, take 25.
If you have ever uttered the phrase, “Let me tell you how we did it up North,” or anything similar, put down your pencil. You are disqualified.
Add five points for anybody in your hometown who was named for an animal. I grew up with a guy named Squirrel and knew people named Rabbit, Goat and Possum. I ain’t making this up.
Add five points for each of the following questions you can answer without Googling. How many Vienna sausages in a can? What two items make up a working man’s lunch? What was the number of Richard Petty’s stock car? What was the name of General Lee’s horse? What food is the primary source of pot likker? What is the only acceptable substance for sopping up pot likker? Who are those three guys carved into the side of Stone Mountain?
Add 10 points if you own a seersucker suit. Subtract five if you have worn white since Labor Day. Add 20 if you have worn a pair of overalls to town in the past 12 months.
If you refer to all carbonated beverages as “Coke” or “Co-Cola,” — example: What kind of Co-Cola do you want?” add 10 more points. If you refer to said beverages as “soda,” subtract 10. If you have ever dropped into a filling station and asked for a bottle of “pop,” subtract 20. If you have lived here 20 years and still ask for pop — well, never mind. I am supposed to be a kinder and gentler columnist this year.
Add 10 points for every vacation you’ve taken at Panama City Beach, Myrtle Beach or Gatlinburg over the past three years.
Add 10 points if you consulted your team’s college football program before planning your wedding. Subtract 30 if you got married on a Saturday between Sept. 1 and Dec. 7. Add 30 if you won’t have sex in December, January or February because you are afraid you’ll have a child during football season.
Add five points for each of the following food items you’ve had since Christmas:
Grits, fatback, fried green tomatoes, cornbread, Spam, pulled pork, ribs. If you have fried chicken in your own kitchen in the past three months, add 20. Add 30 if you cooked it in lard.
Deduct 20 if you don’t know what lard is. Deduct 20 more if you have ever invited friends over for a “barbecue” and cooked hot dogs and/or hamburgers on the grill. Deduct 20 more if you think beef is barbecue — unless you are from Texas.
If you don’t serve sweet tea at your home, subtract 20 points. If you didn’t teach your children to say “yes ma’am” and “no sir,” subtract 25. If you understand that the term “mama-n-em” referes to your female parent, other assorted relatives and everybody back home, add 10. If you are not ashamed to refer to your male parent as your “daddy” add 10 more.
Add five for each of the following words or terms you use in normal conversation: fixin’ to, y’all, over yonder, buggy, fillin’ station. Subtract 10 if you stand “on line” instead of “in line.” Subtract 10 more if you don’t know where the “boot” is in your car.
If you understand the relationship between Stonewall Jackson’s death at Chancellorsville and Lee’s loss at Gettysburg, add 20. If you don’t know who Lee and Jackson were — Delta’s ready when you are.
Add 10 if you have blessed somebody’s heart this week and 10 more if you have relieved yourself outside this winter. Twenty if you are a female.
There you have it.
I scored 350. If you got close to that, you are doin’ fine. If you are between 150 and 250, you’ll do. If you scored under 150 — well, bless your heart.
To have Darrell Huckaby conduct his Institute on Southern Culture for your charity event, contact him at www.darrellhuckaby.net.