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Florida, United States
Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday with Friends "Ava Pennington"

I love, love, love my guest for this week. Ava Pennington is a delight to know ... and a delight to read. Check it out!

Southern Lessons    
By Ava Pennington                                                                                

I’m a city girl. A northern city girl.  I was born in Brooklyn and worked in Manhattan for most of my corporate career. My New York accent is as much a part of me as my brown eyes and crooked smile.

But things change. Twelve years ago, we moved south – one thousand miles south to Florida. Now, I know true southerners do not consider Florida a bona fide southern state. Southern wisdom dictates that “when you’re in Florida, you have to go north to get south.”

Still, I’m surrounded by enough southern influence that this northerner has learned a thing or two…usually the hard way!

There was the time a friend hosted a gathering, but realized too late she only had unsweetened iced tea. It didn’t seem like a problem to me – why not offer sugar to those who wanted to sweeten their iced tea? I suggested. The collective southern gasp – followed by laughter – informed me of my faux pas. First lesson: true sweet iced tea is never sweetened when cold!

Speaking of sugar, one of my dearest friends at church is a lovely older woman who hails from the Deep South. As our relationship developed, I made a point of greeting her with a hug each time we met. Soon that wasn't enough. One day, she greeted me with, “Gimme some sugar.” Was she asking for another hug? I didn’t need to puzzle long. She quickly complemented her warm embrace with a big kiss. Second lesson: southern kisses are sweeter than sweet iced tea!

After living among southerners (and southern wannabes!) it was bound to happen. I began to pick up southern mannerisms. I even address my Bible class as “y’all,” although it does sound funny with a New York accent. Still they are quick to remind me that I haven’t quite arrived until I address them properly: “all y’all.”

Sigh. I have much to learn.

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  1. I laughed out loud, Ava! The art of making sweet tea is to a Southerner as sacred as the art of high tea is to a Brit. :D But I have to agree, Southern kisses are definitely as sweet as our tea.

  2. Florida doesn't seem as Southern as Louisiana,Mississippi, and Georgia to me either :) At least Florida does have sweet tea though. Enjoyed your story. I married an upstate New Yorker. Blessings, Barb

  3. Thanks, Barb! Florida may be south geographically, but the many transplanted northerners give it a hybrid feel. Still, even as a northerner, I've learned to appreciate southern sweet iced tea. :-)