Eight years ago, tears streamed down my face sitting in the passenger’s seat of my father’s car loaded with everything I owned, headed west for college. The following four months I spent hours aching for home. Eight years later and the distance between myself and Alabama has only grown, and while the pain has dulled, I know I will forever be heartsick for my home. I can spend hours describing in gorgeous detail why the south was a wondrous, compassionate and inspiring place for me to grow up. It’s this relationship with my region that has my family and friends repeating the phrase, “You need a southern boy.”
Up until last month I agreed with this notion. That was until I met Steven, who was far from Dixie’s number one fan. Prior to our date, I was certain we would have truck-fulls of turnip greens in common. When he opened his mouth, there were no similarities to be found.
Upon shaking hands hello (that should have been a red flag), I commented that I (in a sundress) felt under-dressed in comparison to his suit. A gentleman would have mitigated the issue by telling me I looked nice. Steven was not a gentleman replying, “Yes, well, I have to look nice for work.” (Fine, you think I look like a schlub. You’ll have a lot in common with my mother who would agree.)
Knowing almost nothing about him, he immediately told me everything, which I will summarize here: His parents were uneducated and feared the Lord, which made him cringe. The moment he got the chance to leave the south, he got a ticket to concrete paradise, which he LOVES (said in a sing-song tone). Don’t get him wrong though, there are still areas in the city he dislikes, such as my neighborhood as there is little to do because it’s so dense with families. He’s not about that “party life,” but he likes to be able to hustle right outside his door to shimmy with the ladies. Did he mention that he travels?!?! He tries to take one international trip a year, most recently he’s been to Canada…last year to Mexico. (North America…Fancy!) Finally, he has no intention of ever making the pilgrimage back to redneck land where the women have big dreams of marrying men with small-town aspirations.
After he caught his breath bragging about his self-reinvention, we discussed one thing about me causing him to immediately wave his red flag in my face. “You sound very close with your family,” he said to me. “I’m not. I’m very independent. I don’t see myself ever being keen on rearing children.” Let that first date remark sink in…
How did he go from point A all the way to point Z? I was not asking you to “rear” a family with me. I was trying to carry a conversation along until you finished your drink so I could TTY-Never. And what exactly was he expecting my response to be? Instead of stroking his ego, I did what any southern girl would do. I smiled. I sighed. I breathed in. And then, “Bless your heart, Steven. Should we get the check?” (To my non-southern readers, that’s the polite form of verbally giving someone the big ol’ middle finger.)
Now I knew I would never see him again and while I know the right thing to do would have been to split the bill, but he bragged so much about his success (code: fat wallet…this wasn’t outlined in the above summary but he spoke at length about his salary) and made it clear that a girl of my caliber was immensely below his standards (code: gross, poor and dumb…he said in fancier verbiage), so I let him pay for my drink that I did not finish. I scooted out faster the Forrest Gump making his way to the Alabama End-Zone.
Maybe my NJB isn’t a southern gentleman after all.