Monday, October 27, 2014

Cue the Gone with the Wind Music

I had what I would call the most purely southern moment since I've been down here recently, and as with all things in the modern south, it happened at the grocery store. I've learned the local grocery store is at the epicenter of southern interaction. Forget the telephone! Leave emails and texts to those Yankees! If you want to have a veritable cocktail party, hit the Winn-Dixie! I don't even KNOW most people in town, and every time we've gone, I've run into neighbors, people we've seen at church, families from the kids' school. I've taken to going by myself on Fridays, because this whole thing freaks me out a little.

I'm happily filling my cart and checking things off my list, when I hit a necessary item--frozen vegetables--on sale. As is the same, north or south, the sale items were a jumbled mess, plus it was a humid day, which meant I couldn't see a thing through the freezer case. I was head and shoulders into a freezer case, trying to find my items, when, I swear, I'm not making this up, a woman's voice, veritably dripping with honey sopped up by a biscuit, announces in a loud voice "Well, I declare!" Of course, no "r" sound was pronounced. It was more "declay-ah" than anything. She was speaking to another female patron, and she continued with "I haven't seen you in I do not KNOW how long (made into two syllables, that word). Truth be told, I thought you'd passed." At this point, I'm trying really hard to keep a straight face, good thing I'm out of sight. I continued on with my vegetable search as they shared small talk, promising to catch up more soon.

The delightful elderly southern woman came over by me and, again, announced she was looking for "soup vegetables." Since I was already half in the freezer case, I offered that there was a bag with "soup vegetables" marked on it, as I handed it to her. She read the bag, made a scoffing noise that really employed her entire body, pointed to the wording on the bag, and in an accusing manner told me, "This has OKRA in it. We don't put okra in our SOUP." Feeling outnumbered and outgunned by this little woman, I went with my strengths and replied, "Glad you said that. I'm a Yankee, and I wouldn't put put okra in MY soup, either." She sized me up in an instant (I really longed for a set of pearls to clutch), and told me, "Well, then you were brought up right." I handed her a different bag of vegetables, and she sniffed and told me I'd been very helpful.

As often happens in grocery stores, we happened to meet up at the check out line, she with her half-full cart, me with my overflowing one. She was already almost through the line, when she saw me and declared she was glad she didn't have to put all my groceries away. That's when I let her know this was a week's worth of groceries for five. She immediately started taking items from my cart and putting them on the belt while the cashier bagged what she had. She told me how she used to have six to feed, but now it was just her, and she'd started calling her nephew to come over with a friend or two, just so she could keep her "cooking mind fresh" from time to time. She paid for her by then loaded up groceries, bid a lovely day to all (pronounced aw-el) and left.

It was probably the most pleasant day I've ever had at the grocery store.

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