Monday, October 15, 2007

10-15-07: Southern Hospitality

I spent the weekend in lovely Wilmington, North Carolina, visiting my sister, who is a freshman at UNCW. Being from the North, I have to admit: Southerners are good people. They certainly know how to show, and have, a good time, which is why I always enjoy trips down there.

That got me thinking: why is it that people from the South are, on par, friendlier than people from the North? I will use the Mason-Dixon line as a border, so basically any state north of Maryland on the east coast is in the North, and vice-versa for the South.

My first thought was obviously the weather, which is likely. North Carolina has much milder season changes, so you don't get that bitter cold and sweltering heat extreme temperature change overnight like in the North. But they do have hurricanes, which can't be fun. That's got to add a degree of stress, at least for part of the year. Blizzards suck, but I've never really had to worry about losing my house in a flood. I guess it breaks down to the extremes, though. If you don't have to worry when the seasons change, maybe that puts you into an easier state of mind. That, and heat slows you down. Look at the Thai people as an example for that. They simply can't get angry. It's too tiring.

I then thought it was the food. Southerners eat differently than Northerners. We have our various chowders and Canadian bacon. They have their grits and hush-puppies. Maybe they eat more fatty foods, which slows thing down and eases it up. Plus, who wouldn't be friendly after some good ol' country barbecue?

It then dawned on me that it could be a fa├žade. Maybe it's just a Northerner's perception of the friendly South. After all, Southerners aren't always friendly to other Southerners. Look at all the race riots in the past. Those were times of Southern Hospitality, right? And what about the bitterness that still survives 142 years after the end of the Civil War (a.k.a. the War of Northern Aggression)? My sister actually heard another student say, in response to the question "What is something you have learned so far in school?", "Well, I've learned to accept Yankees a little more." Where's the consistency?

The truth of the matter is that it's about perception. I do believe, ON AVERAGE, Southerners are friendlier than Northerners. There may be some hidden racism lingering, but the North isn't exactly the ideal candidate for a racial Utopia. Judging by extremism works both ways, but it is funny to consider from time to time. All in all, I do enjoy visiting the South.

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