Confessions of a True Southerner: If you don't have time to talk, you'd better just keep on walking.

Mom and I write a series called "Confessions of a True Southerner." These articles are being featured at The Magill Review. 

This week's article talks about the art of southern speech. There are no short conversations with a Southerner. We like to talk, and we're good at it!! We always have a story to tell. Our stories make up who we are. All of you southerners out there will appreciate this ...

A swing on the front porch is a must!

I have so many fond memories of sitting on the front porch, listening to my family telling stories.  No wonder we Southerners love our stories!!

Confessions of a True Southerner:  If you don't have time to talk, you'd better just keep on walking!

Anyone who has grown up in the South, around the South, or within a hundred miles of the South knows that there’s no such thing as a short conversation with a Southerner. We stop to say hello, and two hours later we’re still going at it. We talk till our tongues are tuckered out and our kids start squalling. Then we say goodbye and talk another twenty minutes or so—just for good measure.
And we don’t just talk to the people we know. We talk to everyone: the girl at the drive- thru, the man behind the meat counter, the woman standing behind us at the post office. In fact, a friend of mine recently told me that by the time she got up to the front of the line to purchase her stamps, she knew all about the lady behind her—her kids, grandkids, how the daughter’s ex- husband was up for parole in a month, and why her new boyfriend wasn’t worth a Saltine cracker.
We southerners get to know our neighbors—intimately. We know where they’re going, when they leave in the morning, and what time they come home. And if a neighbor leaves in the middle of the night, well, you’d better believe we find out why—as soon as it gets light enough outside to trot across the street and ask.
I remember the time when my husband and I decided to splurge on some new wooden blinds for the entire front of our home. A day later, my neighbor marched over and told me that she had a bone to pick with me. “Ever since ya’ll got those new blinds, I can’t see a thing that’s going in your house,” she said.
Now it ain’t that we’re nosy—just curious is all. We still believe that neighbors ought to share one another’s lives. We laugh together, cry together, and yes, sometimes we even fight together. But the point is that we care. So many people in other parts of the world have isolated lives and absolutely no interaction with their neighbors. How sad is that? My aunt Lucille would roll over in her grave at the thought. She didn’t need a TV. Her front porch was enough entertainment to keep her busy all summer long, sitting out there in her metal rocker with a big, tall glass of sweet tea, waving at the neighbors as they went by. How I cherish those long afternoons when the sun crept down behind the mountain and the katydids would start their sing- song chant to the rhythm of the flickering lightning bugs. Oh, the stories those folks could tell.

Maybe we Southerners understand a great truth—that the destination isn’t nearly as important as the journey. The friendships we build make up the fabric of our conversation at a time.
So the next time you’re in the South, take my advice. If you don’t have time to talk, you’d better just keep on walking.