Southern Support

There is a relatively famous comedian here in the south named James Gregory, who bills himself as the funniest man in America. I say relatively famous simply because he is not as well-known as Jeff Foxworthy and some of the other  blue-collar comedy guys. It’s a shame, really, because he’s about as funny as anybody I ever heard. He has made some very pertinent observations about the culture down here, and they are spot-on and hilarious.

One of the things he had commented on at some length is the fact that in the rural south, during a time of illness, tragedy or personal crisis, the standard operating procedure is to bring food to whomever is in distress. Specifically, I heard him say one time, on a tape a friend had loaned me, that if you give a bunch of southerners a dead body and some potato salad they can throw a funeral. 

In the last few weeks I have been the recipient of just such deep-rooted generosity. My wife had surgery three weeks ago and you wouldn’t believe the mountain of food that has been brought to the house. I think I’ve gained about 10 pounds, which is problem enough when you’re 6’4”. When you’re 5’8” standing on your tiptoes it borders on a disaster. I’m very near to the point of needing to buy a whole bunch of new pants. 

We’ve had casseroles of every sort delivered and all of the ones we’ve tasted have been good. We’ve been forced to freeze a good number of them, which guarantees nobody around here will go hungry anytime soon. The truly mixed blessing has been in the number of desserts we’ve gotten. I am not normally a dessert eater, not because I don’t like them, but because I can’t afford the extra calories. But to me it would seem quite rude not to eat the things our friends have gone to the trouble of making for us. Ingratitude may very well be the least forgivable sin in the entire south, and I’d hate to transgress in such an unmannerly and disrespectful way.

I have a nephew who lives in Dothan, Alabama. He has a friend, a retired Baptist preacher, who has always been a stickler for healthy eating and who once said he wouldn’t eat a doughnut for a thousand dollars. The Reverend, while he was pastoring a church, had a heart attack and, true to form, all the little old ladies of the church inundated him with food. Naturally there were a ton of desserts delivered to his home.

Had he not been so clever he’d have been in a dilemma. He knew he couldn’t give the sweets away or he’d be caught for sure. But he knew he wasn’t going to eat all those cakes, pies and all that banana pudding either. He also knew, with 100% certainty, that he was sure to be asked about all those delicacies later on. So, as soon as the deliverers made it down the front steps, all the unhealthy stuff was dumped in the trash. Right then and there. Whenever Aunt Lucy asked later on how he’d enjoyed her blueberry pie, he was able to answer in complete truthfulness, “That stuff doesn’t last long around my house”!

I am happy to report that none of the good stuff has lasted very long at my house either. And not a scrap of it was thrown in the trash.

And just so you know, a whole lot of prayers have been answered in the last three weeks. My wife is not going to need chemo. We are more grateful for that than for the desserts!

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