When I lived in the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest, I missed the characters of the South. I don’t mean I missed them, I longed for them. I was so out of my element in both of those places. I remember it first struck me as a fashion crisis. Every woman in Seattle dressed in black …. all the time. I looked like a goofball in my feminine, colorful clothes. I felt so out of place.
I wasn’t comfortable being myself in my own fashion sense because I was trying to fit in, so I finally succumbed and wore clothes I hated. The Chicago area was a little better but Midwest people are very private. They are wonderful when you get to know them just like most people are, but it takes awhile. And, I always felt like the craziest one in the room.
My first month or so in Memphis was like a long, cold, tall, drink of water. My first order of business – go shopping. I bought dress after dress of feminine, colorful dresses. I couldn’t wait to dress like I wanted. I went to a meeting one morning, and this woman walked in. I’ll never forget her. She was about 70. She was dressed from head to toe in pink. I don’t mean cheap pink or breast cancer pink. She had on expensive, rich, deep pink from her big floppy hat to her high-heeled powder-pink pumps. She was dripping in diamonds. Her makeup was thick, flattering and steeped in pink. She was rich, confident and expressing herself. Then, she opened her mouth and spoke. Her drawl was unbelievable. It drew me in like a magnet. She was crazy as hell, too. I loved it, and everybody else loved her. They laughed right along with her. I was home.
Memphis is predominantly African-American. I love the culture. I love black women. I worked in an HR department that was full of black women. I loved going to work. When I was a mess, they had no hesitation in picking me up and brushing me off. They also had no hesitation to tell me where I was going wrong. But, it wasn’t a blaming wrong. It was a, “hey, I get it, but this is killing you” conversation. I find black women to be loud, colorful, spiritual, openly loving, expressive and just downright fun. I actually just wish white folk were more like that.
I don’t have a lot of close black male friends, but I’ve certainly run across them in the dating field. I have told my girlfriends numerous times that I wish white men were more like the black men I run into. They have no hesitation in showing appreciation for women. I read these dating sites for men, and these ‘experts’ tell men to play hard to get, don’t show her you like her, keep her guessing. That might be okay if you want a woman longing for you. But, if you want a woman to kiss your feet, be expressive and alive in the bedroom and devoted to you, adore her. Make sure she likes you first. I don’t like to be adored by somebody who doesn’t know me yet. That’s just irritating. But, if you know each other, and you like each other, adore her. I guarantee her sexual energy will increase, and she will become your own little porn star. And, then she’ll get up and cook your breakfast and be a star in the world, too. Sexual energy is powerful stuff, and white folks could take a lesson from black folks on this matter. They are not afraid of it. And, I love it.
I don’t know why the Southern culture is so different. I know there’s an impression in other places that we’re stupid or backward. I could feel it when I opened my mouth and spoke with my drawl in the workplace. People loved the drawl, but there was a definite stigma to it. I suspect we’re different because of the mix of the races and our troubled history in dealing with each other and loving each other. There is hate, and there is love. But, either way there is energy. There is emotional energy, and there is a comfort level in dealing with people that are different. And, because we are comfortable with each other, it’s easy to express my own craziness. Crazy and colorful people aren’t hidden away. We write blogs. We manage corporations. We run for office. We get elected multiple times for office. Hell, I think we even had some Southern presidents who brought their own colorful selves to the highest office in the land. Dang it Southerners, we’re just special. Express yourself. There are people like me needing a long, tall drink of your own special blend of brew.