by Jennifer Oradat
Growing up in Alabama, there were some things about the women I respected that I always wanted to emulate. They were the epitome of all things Southern, and I looked up to them.
I’d love to say that those things were the art of the thank you note, the craft of the perfect party, or the skill of impeccable manners… but they’re not.
No, the things I admired were a little less proper and lot more entertaining.
1. The art of the cold shoulder. Ever been ignored by a Southern belle in an all-out temper tantrum? She can turn the sultry summer days of Alabama into something resembling the Arctic Circle simply by raising a delicate (perfectly waxed) eyebrow in your direction, and then turning and walking away. Ah, the bitter chill of dismissal.
2. The skillfully executed pseudo-compliment. There is no amateurish back-handed nature to her compliments, nothing to make the recipient question that what she said is anything less than sincere. The tell-tale signs come when the recipient turns to walk away, and the Southern belle’s glowing smile fades into a sarcastic eye-roll and a subtle wink at her friends. She may not have meant it, but you’ll never know.
3. The craft of the consummate wardrobe. This has taken years to perfect, and the Southern woman wears it well. She has an impeccable outfit— including shoes, accessories, and of course, hair and makeup— for every occasion. She is flawless at funerals, and even manages to look better than the bride…all without appearing to ever lift a single perfectly manicured finger.
4. The sugar-coated Silent Insult. When this woman wants to say something that is less-than-positive, she falls back on the advice of her mama: “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” You know you’re being insulted when her vocal chords fall silent and the glare of that 1000-watt perfectly-straight-toothed-
5. The unimpeachable Saturday-to-Sunday transition. Come Sunday morning, Ms. Southern Belle sits piously in her church pew with her conservatively-attired husband and perfectly coiffed children. She’s so ideal for this role that you’d never guess her Saturday night had been spent in painted-on blue jeans, stiletto-heeled boots, and a sparkly tank top (see #3) while she danced with a beer in her hand, a baby on her hip, and a husband yelling obscenities at the Crimson Tide in the background.
I may not have yet achieved the level of mastery needed to pull off these things like a pro, but I’m working on it.
One shopping day at a time.