Lose the neon nail polish and quit smacking that gum, or she'll be on you like a duck on a June bug.

By Valerie Fraser Luesse
September 21, 2018
She's not a fan of your neon nail polish, and if you don't quit smacking that gum, she'll be on you like duck on a june bug.
| Credit: Liquidlibrary/Getty Images

We know. This is the modern South, and we're no longer bound by the rules and regulations set forth by our fore-Mamas. Well . . . maybe not all of them. We still give "the look" to men using tacky slang in front of women. (A Southern Mama might whack such offenders with her pocket book.) Southern girls who smoke still hide it from Mama.

Recently, we asked our Facebook Brain Trust to weigh in and tell us: In this modern age, are there things that Mama still finds tacky? Yep. Here's what they said:

Personal Grooming

Gaudy nail polish. Mama's not a fan of the neon yellow mani-pedi.

"Snow at the North Pole." If we may quote Weezer from Steel Magnolias, "Have your roots done!" Retouch, retouch, retouch.

Long, scruffy beards. Some women love them. Mama is not some women. It's called a barber shop. Look into it.


Athleisure. No, no, no. Why wear gym pants to the Piggly Wiggly? Are you planning to hurdle the Vidalias or put them in your buggy?

White shoes after Labor Day.

White shoes on men anytime.

White shoes. Period.

Saggy pants ANYWHERE.

Capri pants with socks and shoes.

Mixing stripes and plaids. Maybe in some circles, it's considered daring and edgy, but Mama doesn't frequent those circles and she wishes you wouldn't either.

Visible bra straps. Mama wouldn't say "bra straps," of course—not in mixed company anyway. She would say "exposed foundation garments."

Sheer skirt, no slip. Sinful in a house of worship and scandalous everywhere else.

Pink plastic hair curlers worn in public. The good people at Conair have made amazing advances in big hair technology, so turn on, poof out, and join the electric age.

Thanksgiving Hospitality

Vinyl tablecloths on the Thanksgiving table.

Big plastic [YOUR TEAM HERE] cups on the Thanksgiving table.

Plastic flatware on the Thanksgiving table.

Paper plates on the Thanksgiving table. (Not even Chinet Classic White will pass, though Mama concedes there is a place in this world for Chinet.)


Aluminum Christmas trees. (We probably don't need to tell you what Mama thinks of that rotating, multi-colored wheel that tried to replace her elegant white string lights. Mama's not having that.)

Modern Christmas music. There's a time and a place for a saxaphone, and it's not in "Silent Night."

Modern (that is, not red, green, or gold) decorations at Christmas.

Modern "twists" on the traditional Christmas menu that Memaw and her Memaw before her always prepared. Memaw's recipes don't need any twisting, thank you very much.

Price tags left on Christmas gifts.

Any Nativity scene that doesn't look "like Bethlehem dropped down onto our entry table."

Any visible Christmas décor after midnight on December 31.


Plastic flowers at Papaw's funeral. If he was good enough to teach you to fish, he's good enough for a fresh spray of gladiolas.

Burying Memaw in her square-dancing dress and clogging shoes.

Playing "Achy-Breaky Heart" as the deceased is carried out of the church because "Uncle Herschel sure loved to scoot a boot, bless his sweet heart."

Houses of Worship

Cowboy hats in church.

Baseball hats in church.

Drying laundry on the clothesline, porch, or anyplace else that the neighbors can see on Sunday or ANY holy day.

Wearing revealing clothes or smacking gum in temple.

Burning rubber while leaving a house of worship because you're determined to beat the crowd to Cracker Barrel.

Basic Human Decency

Swearing, unless you're in the privacy of your own kitchen and just burned your hand on your cast iron skillet. Then a quick, much-regretted expletive maybe uttered.

Children addressing adults by their first name, unless it's preceded by the affectionate, respectful "Miss" or "Mister" (Miss Elsie, Mr. Hank, etc.)

Texting while Memaw is trying to have a conversation with you. Don't you think that phone will be around a lot longer than she will?

Anything else that suggests Mama failed in raising you. Always remember: Tacky is as tacky does.

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