My Southern Legitimacy Statement: I spent the first five-eighth of my life, the formative years, in Virginia and come from Southerners with a love of language and landscape, good storytellers. My ideal meal would be a tall glass of iced sweet tea, hot buttermilk biscuits, sugar-glazed ham, Southern-style green beans and a sweet potato casserole followed by a warm slice of pecan pie.
When Rains Were Frog Chokers
Sit you little self down was the way Dad began his stories, taking his own sweet time to unspool them, especially the ones way back when he was knee-high to a grasshopper, when rains were frog chokers or gully washers. Then there were those trips, an hour as the crow flies, to the great-aunts. The car was chock-a-block full with us in our Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes when Dad let out the clutch and proclaimed, We’re off like a herd of turtles. My dad also liked to say lickety-split, savoring the way it made his mouth spread into a smile, pucker, then relax and he enjoyed a cheery okey-dokey and hunkey dorey, how they gave affirmation a sudden sprinkling of flippancy. Hell’s bells, darn tootin’, piffle and horsefeathers had become (alas!) extinct. But there remained thingamabob, whatchamacallit and cattywampus to cavort and wallow in like a little boy with a puddle. The older he became, the more he’d claim to luxuriate in his language the way a dog rolls in the grass to scratch an itch.