Thursday, October 11, 2007

To Adapt or Not to Adapt

My husband was in the military for 12 years when we first met. It was the pivotal point when an active duty member decides on making a career of the military, or getting out while the gettin' is good. We actually made the decision together as time progressed and we figured out we were gonna be together for the long haul. He wanted to do it and I supported his decision. Having a health plan for life seemed like a mighty fine idea at the time (and it still is!).

We've done a lot of talking about where he's been and the things he's seen. The things he has seen falls under places he's been....not any of that classified stuff. One thing he's always said is that no matter where you go, you need to adapt to the place where you are put. You are visiting, for the most part, on a long term basis (2-4 years). It's up to you to adapt to the part of the country you are in or the foreign place you've been assigned. I think this is good advice.


When he was stationed in Charleston, we would run into his students out in town. He would introduce me and they would have a small conversation. It almost never failed that whoever he was talking to would make the comment that they were ready to leave South Carolina. They hated South Carolina. South Carolina sucked.

Have you any idea how much that pissed me off? It took everything I had to NOT to tell these brats to go right then, pack their crap up and head on out. We don't want their yankee butts stinking up our beautiful state.

I would always smile sweetly and inform them in a "Scarlet O' Hara" sugared voice that I was born and raised in South Carolina and simply had no problem with it whatsoevah. Why, I just couldn't understand why on earth they would want to head up Nawth where people are just so rude and drive like loons. Anyone who knows me personally can vouch for the fact that when I get a pronounced accent going on...I'm usually pissed. It's not hard to tell. But, to the unknown, they get all confused looking at me trying to figure out why I'm smiling with my mouth and not my eyes. Then they get nervous a little bit. (This is my gift and I've honed it to perfection over the years.)

Now, this does not mean that I endorse the putting down of other parts of my great country. I know there are stereotypes and people have preconceived notions before they even arrive in a place. My point I was trying to make was this: It works both ways. If you put down my part of the country, I'm going to dig down a bit and find the stupidest thing to say about yours just so you realize how wrong you were to even open your mouth.

The wife of one of Fred's friends back in Charleston was the bane of my very existence. That girl drove me nuts. Her name was Kelly and I always referred to her as The Lovely Miss Kelly. Oh yeah, I was being very facetious because, 1. she wasn't lovely and 2. she thought very highly of herself. She proclaimed all the time how she hated the South. She needed skyscrapers! She needed hustle and bustle! And she simply HATED the word "ya'll". Her skin crawled every time she heard it. She was from Indiana. I finally looked at Fred one day and said..."Do not evah ask me to put my feet under her supper table. I will not do it. And does she not realize that had it not been for this town, that she hates, being one of the first cities in these United States, therefore establishing the start of this country that she lives in and her husband works for, then freaking Indiana would NOT be here today???"

*Clears throat and forces self to calm down*

I have been stewing for a couple of days over some of this. I called our base clinic the other day to make Makenna an appointment as she needed an immediate one due to her eye being irritated. We have all established that I am Southern by birth and the grace of the Lord above. I chose not to accompany my husband when he was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia because I was unsure of my abilities to adapt to a Northern like atmosphere. See? I knew I had limitations.

I was speaking with a nurse who was Lt. Somebody. She was okay. Not overly friendly, but I am used to that somewhat here as our base is a mixture of all races, places, and faces. She asked me something and I replied and somewhere in my reply I called her "honey". I don't even think about it. I AM SOUTHERN. We do stuff like that. It is not intended to degrade or insult. I do not approve of the word "babe". But Sugar? Honey? Sweetie? These words are staples of our language here.

She immediately said to me..."My name is not Honey. It is Lt. Somebody." And she kept right on going with whatever she was saying.

Oh, really. Is that right?

I promise on all that is Holy that if I hadn't needed to get my child in to see that doctor? I would have let loose on her.

So, I allowed the Inner Scarlet to emerge. I was cold, impersonal, and overly polite. With a pronounced Southern accent.

Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with Lt. Somebody having a problem with being called nice names. I really don't. But, realize where you are, Sugar. Realize that you are in These Southern United States. Realize that when you talk to someone on the phone and they have the Southern accent, that they have been raised differently from you. They are taught to say yes ma'am and might be inclined to call you a sweet name without thinking twice about it. They will talk to you as if they have known you for forevah. Realize they mean no harm or insult whatsoever. Go with the flow and ignore those things that irritate you because you understand that you are in a different land from your own.

It's like the fact that I do not expect sweet tea after I get past North Carolina. I know things are not as I am used to when venturing out of the Circle. And I've ventured out a few times. Why, I've even been as far as Chicago. Okay, I didn't leave O' Hare airport during the six hour layover, but I was there!!

I just had to put a thought or two out there because I'm sick and tired of stewing over it.

I guess I got some adapting to do my own self.


Krys72599 said...

Norfolk, Virginia? A "Northern like atmosphere?"
Come and visit NJ, Miss Hope! We'll show you some "Northern like atmosphere!"
Having been to Virginia, Norfolk and other cities, I can promise you there's not a Northern like bone in their south-of-the-Mason-Dixon-line bodies!!!
I do love y'all, though (and I can say that - I went to school at the University of Delaware - even THAT'S "southern" compared to NJ!!!

Hope's Hubby said...

I have to admit that when this realization hit me, I was going to school in Kansas. I am from Arizona. I had made a comment one time about not being able to get used to their accents. A female that attended the school with me told me that they didn't have the accent, I did. That's when it hit me, that you do have to adapt when you go to someone else's home.

Oh, and krys, don't get my lovely wife started on Delaware or Maryland (the northern border of which is actually where the Mason Dixon Line is). For future reference to all those of you out there who read this, THE CIRCLE is anyplace south of Virgina, north of Florida, and east of someplace in Louisiana. Anybody outside of this area is considered a yankee. Not necessarily a bad thing, it just all depends on how you act.

andria said...

I lived in Virginia Beach for four years and find it to be more southern than Houston. I think you would have liked VB, Norfolk, well, that's another story.

I was born in Texas and lived here until I was fifteen and my daddy had the audacity to pick us all up and move us to West Virginia. I was going to be a yankee. Oh Lawrd what would I do? But even though they didn't say ya'll or know what grits were, they possessed more southern hospitality in their little fingers than all the Texans I had ever met.

I don;t know where I'm going with this post, being sleep deprived and all, I guess that LT. getting mad over being called honey set me off because, geez, get over that honey. I honey and sugar everyone, that's life. If you're going to deal with the public LT. better learn to accept those things.

Oh, and WV is southern. The Mason-Dixon line runs just north of our old home, about two miles. There's a marker and everything yall. Houston, on the other hand, thinks they're NYC in cowboy boots and it is just not what I consider southern. But I won't go into how much I hate it here. Wouldn't be nice of a southern lady.

And I hope Kelly ends up in Alaska.

Domestic Diva said...

As a person who is more than ready to leave South Carolina...I feel I must preface that statement. I'm ready to leave Charleston. The rest of South Carolina has been good to us.

And don't can call me "Honey" or "Sugar" anytime you please.

Starbldr said...

Hope Honey I knew right off that I loved talking to you and it only gets better. Having been born in the deep south (not too far from Hope) in the 60's, and living on that one little peice of land all my life then going to work in Myrtle Beach (South Ohio). I understand the rift between the northern agressors and the southerner's charm. For the record you can call me Honey or Sugah anytime as long as it doesn't piss Fred off. Remember I have an aversion to the thought that Fred might violate me with an entire submarine. One of these days I am going to get the nerve to start a Blog of my own. I'm just afraid if I told the truth on some matters that I might get found out.

Domestic Diva, I couldn't agree with you more. I hate Charleston with a passion. They think they are the South and all of the rest of us are here to serve them.

C said...

I've now lived in several very different areas, and I think I've adapted okay to all of them. I do, however, have to say that I didn't especially enjoy residing in a few of those places.

I'm from the PNW, and there is a very different attitude here than there is in the NE, South, California, etc. I feel most comfortable here and in Maryland. Those places feel like home. I did not especially like the South, even though I adapted. I just knew deep down that it wasn't going to be the place for me.

I don't like it when people tell me they "hate" an area. I don't mind when they tell me they don't like it as compared to a place they consider home, though. I feel the same way, possibly about their "home(s)."

Every place I've been has it's own "personality." Some of those don't mesh with mine. ha. But you adapt and deal until you can go live somewhere nearer your heart. No use in complaining about it all the time. That just gives you wrinkles.

Miss Hope said...

Wow, Miss Krys, I honestly would have never considered Delaware "Southern". Maybe I need to make a visit and enjoy some other Southern style goodness.

To my hubby- I'm glad you know and understand my defination of The Circle. It sure took you long enough.

Andria, if my information is correct, The Lovely Miss Kelly ended up on the back side of nowhere up in Connecticut. I still smile when I think about it. And if it's not true, I don't want to know about it. Let me have my dreams.

Em, sweetie, oh how I hope and pray your hubby ends up stationed here. We can be Southern Divas together.

Starbldr, you is my shugah and will always be my shugah. I'm sure all parties involved undahstand. *smooches*

C.? You are one of the smartest ladies I know. You so eloquently put a lot of my thoughts right into words. I thank you for that.

House of Hayes said...

Well..I must say This is the BEST BLOG EVAH!! :)
Hope you make me smile..Especially when I REALLY NEED IT!! :)
I have a friend visiting *this is for your hubby* and she said I have an accent...and I told her NO she was the one that sounded funny to me...She is from Michigan..! It isn't is Craks *LONG A*
And the nerve of the Brits...they called ME A YANKEE !! I had to have a come to Jesus meeting with some that B worked with to let them know the difference between me and the Yankees back here in the US :) They didn't get WHY I was upset..LOL Love the ENGLISH language barrier we have with such a common language :)


AndreaLeigh said...

Girl, I am dying over here! You should see my face when people tell me that they hate SC. That's my home state, and we all know the intense pride of all us Carolina girls. Back off, witches, I will bean you upside the head with a palmetto tree.

Em, it bums me out to here that you don't love Charleston. Logically I know that what one person loves another does not, and vice versa, but I have such amazing memories of our time there, and it makes me wish other people could have the same experience. Charleston is the one place I feel absolutely at home... as in, when I am there I feel like there is no other place in the world that I belong.

Dani said...

Em - I have to second Andrea ... of course I was born in Charleston and we did two tours there so it's definitely a little bit of home. I personally can't say that I'm a yankee or a southerner really but more than anything a mutt. If I go back to my grandparents, two were from MA, one from Kansas and one from southern GA/northern FL (which I would consider southern ... once you get south of Jax, then you get the transplanted north and further south you get Cuba ;)).

I have lived many places and as long as you can find good friends and good people ... you can adapt. I enjoyed my time in Boston ... but learned I am not a city girl. I have most enjoyed my time in suburbia (though haven't really lived out in the country). Though Miss Hope, I think you would enjoy the VA Beach area ... a bit faster pace but climate wise nice and mild.

DH, on the other hand, comes from pure southern stock (he's moved around all his life but both parents are from NC). We would like to settle there eventually I think (I love the mountains).

There is stuff to love about all places in this country ... such a wide variety too.