Southern

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By Sean Dietrich

Women to my left. Women to my right. Pastel colors everywhere. Enough conflicting perfume scents to make my head swim. This might be the largest female gathering on planet earth.
And I’m in their hotel lobby.
If you want to know what I’m talking about, visit town during a Mary Kay convention. You’ll see women of every shape, size, and hair-color—too many different Southern accents to count.
Such as the eighty-year-old woman who sits next to me while I’m eating a lukewarm complimentary breakfast. Her daughters are with her— granddaughters too.
“We ah from Marietta,” the elderly lady says, using eleven syllables.
Then, instead of shaking my hand, the lady extends her wrist. Kind of like the Queen of England does when she blesses a NASCAR race.
Anyway, I’m not sorry about my strong affections for the women of Dixie. There’s something special about them, and I’ll die believing that.
They are well-behaved, and unpredictable. Using only one breath, they can cuss you blind, then turn around and preach a full-blown sermon. Sometimes they do both at once, using so much charm you end up writing them a thank-you card for it.
They dress to the nines, often spending upwards of six hours before a bathroom mirror. Like the lady I saw in the lobby wearing ten-inch heels, a puff-pink suit, and fourteen feet of hairspray. It must’ve taken her a week to get ready.
Or the young girl in the hoop-skirt and bonnet—it took three grown men to get her out of the hotel elevator.
My tenderness for these females runs deep. This might have a lot to do with the food they make. They can whip up cornbread, crank out biscuits, and deep fry a hundred chicken livers before you’ve even brushed your teeth. They’re not ashamed to eat what they make, and by God, they don’t expect you to be either.
They are all beautiful. Short, tall, round, skinny, well-bred, or just a little red in the neck. But they are something else.
They can convert church bulletins into a hand-fans, take sermon notes on an old envelope, and won’t hesitate to tan the hide of a sass-mouth—even if he’s is in his forties.
She’ll watch football, out-scream you at a tailgate party, open beer bottles with car keys, and stink up your house with a fresh pot of collards.
She’s a single mother, a widow, a full-time employee, craftswoman, housecleaner, church lady, cracker-jack bridge player, expert bedmaker, Mary Kay sales associate, and church pianist.
She can pay her own taxes, cut her own grass, train your bloodhound, sew her own clothes, hold Bible study in her living room, and can flat throw a baby-shower. She is confectioners sugar on the outside; one hundred percent black powder underneath.
Take a good look at her, this isn’t the perfect woman. She’s even better than that. She is Southern.
And she’s all mine.
Sean Dietrich is a columnist, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South.

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