Compliments Only Southerners Give

Who else would praise your condiment selection?

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Who else would praise your condiment selection?. Photo: Lambert/Getty Images

Good compliments are directly tied to our values—what we single out for accolades tells you what we care about. And Southerners' values don't always line up with everybody else's. For example, we'd rather have season tickets than a croker sack full of money (which is convenient because that's about what season tickets cost).

As long as we're talking gridiron, our love of college football comes with its own bracket of nice compliments:

I think your boy's SEC material.

Your girls have got the pep, the poise, and the hair to cheer for the University of Texas.

Vandy might as well board up the Alumni Association if your family ever leaves.

Speaking of money, we think it's rude to talk about it—at least blatantly and openly. The whole subject of who has what and how much of it strikes us as unseemly. Consequently, the wealthy acquaintances we admire most are those who, far from flaunting their money, rarely let it show except in the offering plate, where we're always happy to see it. So you'll hear Southerners pull from a list of compliments like these:

She's rich as all get-out, but you'd NEVER know it.

She could buy Disney World and use it for a guest room, but she'd just as soon shop at Walmart as Neiman's.

If she hadn't bought the church a sound system and three new buses, we wouldn't know she had a dime.

We especially admire someone who comes from humble beginnings, strikes it rich, yet remains humble. And this is how we say all of that:

She doesn't change, does she?

Just as there are rules about money, there are similar ones governing education. It's fine for your parents to be proud of your education as long as they only brag about how hard you've worked,NOT how much smarter you are than everybody else. It is not okay for you to be excessively proud of your academic degrees. Instead, you should express gratitude to the parents who supported you and the teachers who schooled you. Follow those rules and you'll be rewarded with compliments like these:

He's never been one to throw his education up in your face—but if he did, it'd slap you silly.

She's never been one to talk down to other people—but believe-you-me, she's got the degrees to do it if she wanted to.

Got a special talent? We'll use a food reference to tell you how much we admire it:

I'd rather listen to him sing than eat when I'm hungry.

We like to think we're connoisseurs of superior cooking and we're occasionally guilty of spouting off:

I can tell just by sniffing your potato salad—you're a Duke's girl, aren't you?

Do I taste Dale's?

Somebody went the extra mile and put Wickles on the relish tray.

As for beauty and fashion, we sometimes render those compliments in geographic terms, nodding to especially stylish Southern places:

He dresses like a Charleston man.

She's got Texas hair if ever I saw it.

Her Easter hat looks like it came straight from Louisville.

Finally, raised right as we are, and as residents of the Bible Belt, we would be remiss if we didn't set aside a special discussion for church compliments. Here are a few favorites:

They've got so many members, they're up to three morning worships.

That preacher really puts the fodder where the calf can get it.

Even Papaw didn't nap during THAT sermon!

If you want to find her dishes on the fellowship table, just follow the crowd.

Please tell me you're keeping our Sunday School class.

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