I was supposed to write a post about anger management for last week’s Spin-Cycle topic, which is brought to us by Sprite’s Keeper. Last week, y’all.
But, every time I thought about it, it just didn’t feel right. There was something about admitting that something made me mad, that didn’t sit quite right with me. After I week of pondering over this, I figured it out. Southern women just don’t get mad, y’all.
Now, look-ey here. I was raised by a Baptist Southern Belle, who was raised by a Southern Belle who had a Pentecostal Southern Gentleman father. Our extended family included a whole passle of other kinds of Southern Bells. Down here in Cape Fear Country, we even have a Festival, called the Azalea Festival, to honor the beautiful azaleas and the cute lil Southern Belles. In other words, I didn’t stand a chance of being any kind of normal.
A true Southern woman is obliged, by virtue of her birthright, to always smile, be polite and smooth over problems with good manners and a glass of sweet tea. No matter how upset, riled up, or irked we get, we just don’t ever admit to being angry. We can be, under circumstances of high provocation, “ill” or “aggravated” or “upset”. But really, anger is not lady like and it’s not fitting of the image that a Southern woman strives for: all that-there grace and beauty.
My grandmother is the ultimate Southern matriarch. The only girl in a family of six boys, she was taught to drive a car, fire a gun and cook up a mean bunch of collards. She is a steel magnolia inside a velvet glove. I’ve seen her get so “riled up” that she drove right past the speed limit to get to a woman’s house to very politely, and sweetly, refuse a gift from someone that was acting “messy”. It might have even been, in her mind, “a Big Mess”. She may have raised her voice just a tichy. She might have slammed her car door as she left. But she definitely was not mad.
My mother, a prim and proper Southern gal with a peaches and cream complexion, always preached to me that “pretty is as pretty does.” Everything in her life is “Little”. She wears a “little” sweater with her “cute, little skirt” and she has “little parties” where she goes to dance “a little”. She never gets mad, she just gets a “little upset”. I think she has the image of the Little Baby Jesus permanently stuck in her head. Anyway, she was so upset one time that she threw a right proper hissy fit. This “fit” included jumping up and down in place, while screaming, “YOU’RE BEING UGLY TO ME!”
But to this day, she will not admit to being mad. Nope, she was just a little upset because I wasn’t acting nice. I was being “ugly”. It got real messy. In other words, I dared to disagree with her.
When I think about it, it kinda makes sense. After all, what with Jesus hangin’ on the cross and all that Amazing Grace and us meetin’ at the River (the beautiful, beautiful River, so it had to be in the South) that we absorbed into out Southern spirits – it DOES seem kinda rude to be gettin’ all hot and bothered at each other over silly stuff, y’all. And I’m pretty sure there is a special place reserved in the Lake of Fire for Mad Women, along with all those cheaters, liars and other types of rude folks.
So, when my momma had her hissy fit and jumped up and down in the floor, accusing me of “bein’ ugly to her,” I got even uglier and got in my car and left. I slammed my car door real hard and I drove right past the speed limit that day. But I wasn’t mad, y’all. I was just all riled up.
All this is Okey dokey until you try and be married to a damn Yankee. Then things can get a lil complicated, ya’ll. He’ll say something really tacky that gets me all upset. I guess I get kinda angry pouty. He’ll say, “Are you mad at me?”
“No,” I say (with tone), “Of course I’m not mad!” (Well, duh, y’all. I DON’T get mad!!)
“Well,” he says dryly. “You sound mad.”
Now I’m IRKED. “I’m NOT MAD, I’m just a lil ill.”
“Ill?” he asks, perplexed. “Are you sick or something?”
“No.” Heavy sigh. “I’m not sick, I’m just ill. Aggravated. I’m UPSET.”
“Oh,” he says. “Then you ARE mad.”
“I’M NOT MAD!! YOU’RE JUST JUST TREATING ME UGLY!!” I wail. Why can’t he get it through his thick, yankee head that I’m NOT MAD???!!!!
And of course, if a Southern woman ever got PISSED OFF…..well, I shudder to even THINK about that. Lightning would most likely strike her, ya’ll.