A Wife Loved Like The Church

You’re the only Ten I see (Tennessee)*

Posted on: March 10, 2009

Since Julia was born, I’ve been getting more and more anxious about her fully grasping her “heritage”. We’re mastering the Hispanic side (thanks to Grandma), but I’ve found that the tried and true Southerner side will mostly likely only come from me. Not good.

See, I spent a majority of my high school and college years running away from my roots. Honestly, there never seemed to be much use in holding on to them, until I moved to Iowa and had a baby. Now, I want desperately for Julia, Dubya Dos and any other Windham babies to just “get” it. I know of some things that will come naturally for me to pass on: saying ma’am and sir; calling coke, coke, none of this pop stuff; enjoying a good glass of tea; knowing how to make a mean batch of fried chicken; and understanding where the Mason-Dixon line clearly cuts off.

I googled different “Southern” phrases for a laugh. Although, I am thoroughly convinced these are used everywhere, not just in the South. Let me know if you’ve actually heard and used them, as I know for sure I have:


Like a chicken with your head cut off

Snowball’s chance in h*ll 

Argue with a fence post

Rode hard and put up wet

Short end of the stick

Ruffled her feathers (I actually say this way more than I realized!)

Chewin’ the fat

I declare (said like “Well, I declare!”, when something is shocking or a surprise)

Bump on a log

Bitten’ off more than you can chew

Barking up the wrong tree

Like water off a ducks back


And here are some of my favorite stereotypes:


A Southerner knows that “fixin” can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adverb. 

Only Southerners make friends while standing in lines … And when we’re in line, we talk to everybody! 

In the South, y’all is singular …. All y’all is plural. 

Every Southerner knows tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that red eye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that fried green tomatoes are not a breakfast food. 

All Southerners know exactly when “by and by” is. They might not use the term, but they know the concept well. 

Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who’s got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor’s trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin’. 


But, truth be told, there are a few things about the South that I will gladly leave behind and never, ever teach my children. And that’s the great thing about being a Southerner in Iowa. I get to pick and choose what Julia and Dubya Dos learns about all things Southern. 

*When I was in college, a guy I knew used this as a pick-up line on me. He wasn’t actually meaning it (or if he was I never knew!), but he said it every time he saw me.

3 Responses to "You’re the only Ten I see (Tennessee)*"

My (non-southern) Great Gram’s sayings were,

Good gravy! (means “good grief!”)
Older than a coon’s age (not racist, coon=racoon)
All gussied up (dressed up fancy)
Had to pee like a Russian racehorse
(I don’t give a) rat’s rear end…
Slow as molasses in January
Watertight as a frog’s behind

Now that I’m typing this, I can remember any more, but she always had the best one for any situation, and everyone would dissolve into giggles at the cruder ones while she continued her story without batting an eye.

Well, as a fellow southerner and fellow Tennessean, I can totally relate. I know I use coke indiscriminately and y’all for that matter. I have to admit, here in Tennessee the southern dialect is not quite as refined as our neighbors to the east. My grandmother was from North Carolina and her accent was like something out of a movie. In Tennessee it’s not quite as drawn out as our neighbors to the south – Alabama and Georgia have us beat to a pulp when it comes to drawing out words. BUT, Tennessee does lay claim to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry and nobody can take that from us! LOL Anyway, I have always loved being from the south and I think I’m getting my Iowan husband adjusted more than ever, even though he lived here for several years before we met and married. The biggest saying that I use that according to my DH is very southern (or even hick, he might say) is “IN” the floor. For instance, my purse is laying IN the floor. He says, “Don’t you mean ON the floor?” And with some consternation I will insist, “No, I mean IN the floor!” I guess that ranks right up there with “hose pipe” (do we really need to say both words?!?). I thank God that the blood of Jesus has washed our family of racism. My grandparents didn’t mean to be, they just were. Some of my aunts and uncles still are. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and recognize that God has marvelously fashioned each and everyone of us by His own hand! Thank God He’s delivered our house from addiction to all things fired too – YIKES! I know that may sound sacrilegious but I intend to live long and strong, no matter where I was raised!

GRR, meant to say “Fried” not “Fired”…

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