Signs You Were Raised in the South

Southerners can spot each other a mile away. Here's how we do it.

Valerie Fraser Luesse
Pickup Truck Movie Night
Photographer: Alison Miksch; Prop Stylist: Buffy Hargett Miller

If there’s such a thing as cultural shorthand, the South has it. And while nobody teaches it, somehow we all learn it. It allows us to say—or at least signal—things to each other without actually talking. And when we do talk, the intel really flies. With just a few questions, we can find out whether your people and our people are of the same ilk. And while there are regional peculiarities unique to particular places, like Texas, Louisiana, or North Carolina, some cultural quirks cut across state lines and speak to all of us. Here are just a few of them:

  1. You’ve got sense enough to know that “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am” are required, not optional, if you want anybody to think you (or your children) were raised right.
  2. You believe it’s important to be raised right.
  3. You believe it’s just as important to bake with White Lily, fry with Crisco, and make your chicken salad with Hellman’s.
  4. You felt incomplete until you could successfully grow azaleas.
  5. You took childhood rides in the back of a pickup truck with your legs dangling off the open tailgate. (But you strap your own children into a government-approved safety seat facing in the appropriate direction and properly belted.)
  6. You see no need for the NFL as long as we’ve got the SEC.
  7. You have “carried food” to a fellowship hall, new mom, or elderly “shut-in” neighbor in a 9 x 13 casserole dish with your name masking-taped to the bottom.
  8. You have ever asked your mother, “Would it be tacky to...” (Wear shorts to a summer funeral? YES! )
  9. Related: As a show of respect, you pull over to the side of the road when you meet a funeral procession on the highway.
  10. Cheese grits + macaroni and cheese + fried green tomatoes = vegetable plate.
  11. Speaking of which, you live for tomato season. And peach season. And football season.
    Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
    Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  12. You served barbecue, banana pudding, or Krispy Kreme doughnuts at your wedding reception.
  13. You think it would be a great idea to bring back hats in church.
  14. You remember the code of Mother’s Day corsages: wear red or pink flowers if Mama’s still with us—white flowers if she has crossed over.
  15. You understand and respect the power of Aqua Net hairspray.
  16. You believe last names are unnecessary when referencing Loretta, Dolly, Waylon & Willie, June & Johnny, Hank or Elvis.
  17. You have ever owned an airbrushed T-shirt or car tag from a souvenir shop on Panama City Beach, Myrtle Beach, or South Padre.
  18. You are personally acquainted with the people whose names were illegally painted on the town water tower in the dead of night when they were high school seniors.
  19. You’ve ever made pimiento cheese, red velvet cake, fried pies, or congealed salad.
  20. There are only two kinds of people in the South, and you have known, since childhood, which camp you fall into: beach or mountain.

Bonus Points: You read this entire list—because it would’ve been rude not to. And Mama might find out.