Hard livin’ in Texas with so many Georgia ways

Published 6:04 pm Thursday, September 7, 2017

We had a nice little visit downtown recently with my good friend, who seems a bit obsessed with wearing white. A white jacket is fine, I guess, but you and I wouldn’t wear one every day, I don’t think.

The good thing about him — despite that oddity — is that he does have some good old-fashioned Southern ways about him. Every time I meet him in his quaint little office, he immediately offers me a place to lie down, even though I tell him that I got a good night’s sleep and don’t really need a nap.

But he insists, then proceeds to ask me an array of questions about myself, modestly refusing to talk about himself at all. The other day we got to talking about that good ol’ Southern blood flowing in my veins, and — just in passing — I said, “You know, I like Texas, but sometimes folks with 10-gallon hats don’t always understand my ways.”

He seemed interested in that and asked me to elaborate.

I said, “It’s jus’ like the other day. The amazin’ blonde and I were workin’ out in the yard, and I told her to hand me the hosepipe so I could water some of those beautiful azaleas we had brought back from Georgia on our last visit. She jus’ broke down laughin’, actin’ as if she didn’t know what a ‘hosepipe’ was.”

“Well, out here,” my friend responded, “the normal term is ‘hose,’ I think.”

“You see, I don’t understand that,” I said, “a hose is somethin’ you’ll find under the hood of your car, or it’s somethin’ you run over when you drive into a service station.”

I was going to continue, but I saw the bewildered look on my friend’s face and figured he never had heard a hose ding the way it used to when somebody would drive a gas station and holler, “Fill er up!”

So I changed the subject.

“It gets worse,” I said.  “When I go into the kitchen to fix a sandwich, I like to fix one of those… ”

“Fix?” he said.

“Right, ‘fix,’ – you know, ‘make’ – I like to ‘make’ me a tomato sandwich and sprinkle salt and pepper on it and eat it while the juice from the tomato makes the bread jus’ a little soggy.  And ­—”

“Excuse me just a minute,” my friend said abruptly, “I’ll be right back,” and he jumped up and ran out. I heard a funny noise back in the back, but he returned all composed and asked me to continue.

“As I was sayin’,” I said, “sometimes I like to make a good banana sandwich with a lot of mayonnaise on it, and it doesn’t matter whether you cut that banana sideways or longways, it was just as good either way.”

He seemed genuinely intrigued, so I went on to talk about how much I liked pineapple sandwiches, too, but that you had to eat them a little faster than tomato sandwiches because they will get soggy in a hurry if you aren’t careful.

“You do like sandwiches, don’t you?” he said, his voice cracking suddenly. I could tell he was getting a bit pale; so I offered to get up and let him lie down, but he told me it would be all right. I went on and told him about how I like to sprinkle raisins on a peanut butter sandwich every now and then, and then I got to talking about how good it is to crumble your cornbread into a glass of buttermilk.

“Never was a better way to top off a meal at Grandma’s than with a good ol’ glass of cornbread and buttermilk.”

He excused himself quickly again, and when he got back this time he took me up on my offer to lie down. So I sat in his leather swivel chair and said,

“Sir, I can tell you don’t feel well. Grandma used to say one of the best ways to fight off something is to fix a good mess of chitlins, although you might not like ‘em since you know where they come from.”

Unfortunately, my friend jumped up again and was unable to return. I sure felt bad that he was coming down with something, but I was hungry anyway; so I left with a smile and went home and made two big banana sandwiches — one for me, and one to carry over for my good friend.

You see, it may be a little hard living in Texas with these Georgia ways, but that shouldn’t keep you from showing every Texan you meet that good ol’, friendly, Southern hospitality.

Steven Ray Bowen is a former Granger who lives and writes in Red Oak, Texas.