Tag Archives: Southern

Baby, It’s Hot Outside!

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My junior AP History teacher, Mr. Tommy Sublett, was the first aficionado of the late War of Northern Aggression I ever met in person and got to talk to at length. I never knew why he loved the Civil War so much because he was from Kentucky and those Kentuckians — bless their little bluegrass hearts — were citizens of a border state. Being a border state meant they, along with their three brethren states, had legal slavery but they were too chicken-livered (or prescient, if you think about it) to join the Confederacy in defending States’ Rights from the encroachment of the soulless Yankees.

Kentucky Colonel or no, “Sub” loved to teach us about the Civil War. We spent four weeks on everything from Jamestown to Fort Sumter and from the second week in September until February on the War of Southern Independence. Then Sub realized this was an AP class (we were his first) and we were going to have to take a big test the first week in May and he hadn’t covered a few important items from our nation’s history . . . like the entire 20th Century. Even though the War Between the States was important, most of us figured that test would have at least one or two questions on WWII and maybe even a question on the Soviet Union. So from February through the AP test, we covered a chapter in our book every two days. I made Fs on the tests, but I made a 5 on the US AP History Exam.

But I digress.

One of the things Sub taught us was the Confederacy was pretty much doomed from the start because the Yankees outnumbered us (I’m Southern born and bred. My ancestors did some stupid stuff, but you have to love them, so it’s US for me) about 5:1 or so, give or take. The war only lasted as long as it did because it took Honest Abe four years to find two men — Gens. Grant and Sherman — brutal enough to exploit the overwhelming numerical superiority. Once Grant started sending the Yankee equivalent of “human wave” attacks at our ragged boys in grey, the gig was up. All the wonderful officers and doughty farm boys in the world ain’t gonna save you when you’ve got a gun that fires 3 shots a minute at most and ten men come at you across 30 seconds of ground. The public — North and South — called those two “butchers” and accused them of slaughtering their own men, but in the end it worked and — as The Band and  Joan Baez put it so eloquently — they “drove ol’ Dixie down.”

But once again, I digress.

Even though Sub taught us about the disparity in numbers, he never addressed how we ended up with such a skewed ratio of troops. I mean, our women are far prettier than Yankee women and if you don’t believe it watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta back to back with The Real Housewives of New Jersey then tell me those “Jersey girls” can match our Belles! So if our genetic stock was (and is) so vastly superior to our erstwhile foes, WHY didn’t we have at least equal numbers of people?

Then, a few days ago, in the midst of a third consecutive day with 100 degree heat with a 115 degree “real feel”, the answer came to me — the Southern climate doomed our boys.

Imagine wearing THIS in JULY, in ALABAMA . . . OUTSIDE . . . ALL DAY!

We have two seasons in the South — January and summer. Short, mild winters coupled with ungodly hot and humid summers put our side at a disadvantage because we only had about a 2 or 3 month window each year when it was cool enough to . . . well, . . . PROCREATE.

We’re all adults here, do I have to draw you a picture?

Our Yankee foes, on the other hand, had the exact OPPOSITE issue. Minnesota? They have two seasons as well: July and winter. It’s that way all across the North. It gets COLD up there and cold is conducive to baby-making. Couple of quilts and some body heat and you end up warm, toasty, and “expectant.” Then just about the time THAT little bundle of joy gets weaned, it’s sub-zero again and the cycle starts all over.

Imagine this scenario, and before we get started, just so you know, this is the regular old yeoman farmers. This ain’t the big, high-falutin’ 100 Slave Working Coastal PLANTATION. This is a dirt poor Georgia / Mississippi, no-slave-owning upland family growing jes’ enuff cot’n ta’ git by. Mama, Daddy, a mess of kids that pick cotton too, and MAYBE — if last year’s cotton crop was awesome — a hired hand to help get the cotton in before the rain ruined it. Anyway, woman’s been up since before dawn cooking breakfast and packing food to take to the fields. She worked all day in the sun, heat, and humidity wearing more clothes than most women today wear in the dead of winter. Got home about two hours before everybody else to get supper ready and do some laundry. Fed everybody, cleaned up, gathered eggs and fed the chickens then washed her face and collapsed into bed .

In comes hubby. He’s worked all day as well. He hasn’t washed his face and hands. This was NOT a hygienic age in America. He hasn’t washed ANYTHING since last Saturday. So he slides into the straw ticking bed in his union suit and eases his hand over to just gently touch his loving wife and offer her a proposition:

“Hey, honey-bun, how’s about a little lovin’ tonight?”

Now, remember, it’s a July night when hot enough to make the Devil sigh with air thick as day old red-eye gravy. She’s sweating buckets in her coolest cotton nightgown and trying to get to sleep so she can get up in a few hours and do it all over again. She gently puts his hand back over on his side of the bed and offers him a counter-proposition:

“Hey, sugar bug, how about you keep that hand on your side til first frost and you’ll have two hands to pick cotton with tomorrow instead of one.” What’s more, not a jury in the county would convict her.

So the case is cracked. We lost the war because we were low on men and we were low on men because none of those good Southern folks had A/C in their bedrooms and it was just TOO HOT this time of year for all that foolishness.

Love y’all and keep those feet cool, dry and clean!

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Southern Snowstorm 2011

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My Element in the elements

Okay, it’s cold around here. For everyone who doesn’t have access to a weather outlet, a huge cold system dumped anywhere from six to twelve inches of snow on us here in Upstate SC from Sunday night through Monday morning. Then, starting late yesterday afternoon, a soft misting drizzle coated the fluffy snow in a clear crystalline crust with the result being we won’t thaw out here for another week at least.

Budge’s district was out yesterday and by noon yesterday, their administration as well as every other district in this corner of the Heavenly Triangle that is South Carolina, agreed to phone it in again today. At the rate this stuff is not melting, tomorrow is very likely a wash and Thursday will be at least a two hour delay so the bus drivers have a fighting chance to spot the black ice slicks BEFORE the big yellow banana goes into the ditch. Of course, with this district extending all the way into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, some parts of the county STILL won’t be passable and my Budge may not go back to school this week.

The unfortunate issue in all the preparation for and fighting of the snow is it actually makes things a bit worse in the short run. Our state and county DOTs have been doing a masterful job of clearing the interstates and main artery state roads, BUT, while the plows clear the snow away quite effectively, they cannot help but leave a thin sheet of water on the now-exposed asphalt. This sheet of water becomes a sheet of ice just as soon as the sun goes down. So in a sense, all those plows out on the roads now are acting as giant yellow Zambonis creating a veritable plethora of ice rinks up and down the roads. This results in many drivers, especially those who have more horsepower than brains, pulling a Paul Simon and “slip sliding away.”

Slick, frozen hills like this are what will keep schools closed for a good while.

Skidding off the road isn’t so bad in most places in the main roads because about the worst you can do is slide into the median or onto the shoulder, but once you make a turn or two and get back here into the sticks a bit, flying of the road via a sheet of black ice can be fatal. I’m thinking of one spot less than two miles from here where a long curve over an old bridge meets a long, steady, SHADED uphill incline. Now I know as surely as I know I’ll never own a Porsche that stretch of road is going to be slicker than snot on a doorknob until Saturday at the very least. Remember the bridge and the curve I mentioned? Well, the bridge has nice concrete guard rails, of course, and a set of metal guard rails extends from both ends and both sides of the bridge for another ten feet or so and stops right where the curve begins. That means anyone sliding down that hill — forwards or backwards — has a straight shot past the guard rail and down a 50 foot embankment into the Reedy River below the bridge. That water is deep and cold and I’ve seen more than one car winched out of there followed by four rescue workers struggling up the hill with a human sized black plastic zipper bag held between them.

To paraphrase CCR "Dut, dut, dut, lookin' out my front door."

Still, people don’t learn. People get all broke out in dumb when the white stuff is on the ground. The worst offenders are Yankee expatriates and guys who have jacked up four-wheel drive trucks. The Yankees scoff at us poor benighted hillbillies who can’t drive on snow. I hear it all the time, “Why this is a dusting compared to what we get every day up in X part of Yankee-land, I simply can’t fathom why you people can’t drive on it!” Well, Goober, the reason we can’t drive on it — and you can’t either, by the way — is it’s NOT SNOW. Anyone CAN drive on snow. Snow is easy. Once the roads clear a tiny bit OR once they get nice and compacted, it’s not snow anymore though. It’s ICE and NO ONE can drive on ice. Even James Freaking Bond can’t drive on ice! Watch Die Another Day if you don’t believe me.

The other goofuses (goofi?) with the four-wheel drives are just obnoxious and have no knowledge of physics. They reside in a safe and strange little world where the phrase “I’ll put ‘er four-wheel drive!” makes Mother Nature soil her gauzy shift in terror. In reality, the phrase, “I’ll put ‘er in four-wheel drive” is usually followed by the phrase, “any y’all got a winch or know a good tow company?” Once again, the culprit is ICE. The only difference between a four wheel drive vehicle and a two-wheel drive vehicle on ice is the number of wheels spinning helplessly as the car or truck slides inexorably towards the Ravine of Doom.

So, if you’re reading this around these parts, hunker down, make up some snow cream, drink a cuppa, and take a nice nap. Those of you up and out where this stuff is normal, be careful, and those of you in warmer, snow free clime — keep your obnoxiously sunny and cheerful opinions to yourselves.

Love y’all, and keep those feet clean!