Southern Legitimacy Statement: I grew up in the capital of the Confederacy, a stone’s throw from the James River. My dad grew up on Monument Avenue, a stone’s throw from the Jefferson Davis monument. My grandpa used to say “you can’t beat a dead mule and expect him to pull the cart.”
You talk slow, you think slow, I overheard my freshman roommate say to my other roommate, who teased me about my y’alls, my yonder’s. They branded my accent— faint-archaic-smell-of-slavery or tobacco-barker’s cry. First week of classes culminated with all-night poker in the dorm floor lounge—Pabst Blue Ribbon, a circular table with five guys wearing Yankees baseball caps and me, folding my lousy hand and letting slip from my mouth an it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. They start called me Hill of Beans. That fall and winter of my freshman year I kept my mouth shut in public, as in private I practiced scooping the gnat of my accent out of my glass of Southern Comfort, scooping it out, before it drowned.