Monday, August 22, 2011
Monday Musings on All Things Southern
A few weeks ago I had a doctor's appointment right smack dab in the middle of the day. Two o'clock to be exact. At about 1:15, I grabbed my purse, my keys, my checkbook, and the book I was reading at the time. Knowing that doctor's office visits are usually spent more in the reception room than in the actual exam room, I was--for once--excited. The book I was reading was good. I was about to have some quality reading time.
Being reared by a proper Southern mama, I dressed appropriately for my appointment. Black dress capri's (this is Florida in the middle of summer, by golly), appropriate summer top, adorable dress sandals, and all the jewelry to match. I arrived on time, signed in, sat down, opened my book and started to read.
But, of course, I was interrupted. "Mrs. Everson, we need you to fill out these forms."
Put the book down, go get the forms from the smiling medical receptionist on the other side of the sliding glass window, return to chair, fill out forms, and then return forms to smiling receptionist. Return to chair, pick up book, and start to read.
"Mrs. Everson, I need a copy of your driver's license."
I smile. Put the book down, take my license out of my purse, start for the window, stop and say, "What about my insurance card?"
"Yes, that too."
Return to chair and purse, get insurance card, walk to window, return to chair and book.
I'm now reading. I'm a good three paragraphs in when the front door opens and in walks a tornado of a woman. She's probably ten years older than me. Maybe less. Maybe younger. So hard to tell these days. She's a little overweight, dressed in shorts and a tee shirt. Her hair is a dyed-blonde mess from the outside breeze. She is out of breath and excited but she is wearing--in spite of the work-in-the-yard shorts--a pair of really cute shoes.
After she checks in and is given her forms (she didn't sit down first for the joy of getting back up, but I think that's mostly because she lingered at the window where she chatted pretty loudly with the staff), she sits to the right of me but against the wall. So...she is facing me, really.
And now...back to my book.
That's when I hear, "Those are the cutest shoes!" And this was not in a whisper. This was pretty loud.
I look up. She is talking to me. "Thank you," I say. I look down at my feet, wiggle my foot a little in appreciation (if not embarrassment) and think how cute they truly are, especially paired with my recent pedicure with big-toe design.
"Are they Clarks?" she asks, again quite loudly.
"No. They're Mootsie Tootsie's."
"Well they're just adorable! And they look like Clarks!"
I do not think they look like Clarks. To me, they look like Mootsie Tootsie's. "Thank you," I say because I don't know what else to say. And then I return to my reading with a dramatic flare because I don't want to announce to this entire room what kind of shoes I wear, I don't want to talk about shoe brands, and I want this woman to "get" that.
Out of the corner of my eye I see she has put her paperwork aside to pull her cell phone out of her purse. I assume--although I don't know why I even care--she is looking up a phone number for the form. Next of kin or in case of an emergency. But no. She is making a phone call, which she conducts as loudly as my recent inquisition.
"Honey," she says to whoever is on the other end of the line. "This is Aunt Barbara!" (And now people in three counties know your first name, I think.) "I just want ya ta know that I'm so excited about your visit but I've had to come to the doctor this afternoon and I don't know when I'll be home. So, when ya git to the house, I want ya to not be worried when ya see that mah car isn't in the driveway. I've left the back door open for ya. Y'all come'on in when ya git to tha house. There's cold drinks in the icebox!"
While I am now officially miffed that I cannot read my book with any clarity, I'm amused at an old memory. It was the "come on in" that did it (and the word "icebox" didn't hurt).
I grew up in an open-door policy. Small Southern town where everyone knew everyone and you were family whether there was a bloodline or not. Front doors may have been locked but back doors never were, which was fine because no one came in the front door. Ever. Unless, of course, it was the ladies in my mother's "Circle." They used the front door because they were dressed in their Sunday best right there in the middle of the week. Proper attire requires proper doors for entry, don't you know.
Now, when the Circle ladies came, the doorbell rang. Mother opened the door and said, "Hey, come in, So-and-So." Mother was wonderful about using first names because it makes one feel important to you. Unless, of course, you were her child...then it meant the kiss of death and the sting of discipline.
But Mother never answered the back door in such a way because she didn't have to. No one knocked and waited. They knocked and entered.
Knock knock...door opens and, "Betty?"
To which Mother replied, "Y'all come on in!"
Well, of course, my Northern readers are thinking right now. The person had called earlier and said, "I'll be there in a minute" to which Mother said, "I"ll leave the back door open for you."
Ah...no. There was no call ahead. No one called ahead. You just drove over or walked over and waltzed in. That's the way it was done and, in some parts of the South, that is still the way it's done.
I kind of miss that. I miss having those kinds of neighbors and friends. That kind of community.
An open-door life. It was nice but it's no longer mine--at least not where I live now. When I go back home the back door continues to stay opened and unlocked. And it's nice, while it lasts.