Wherever the Road Leads

Thanksgiving Vocabulary

Having lived in so many places, the English language and the many ways of pronouncing it have become a bit of a hobby. I have been disappointed in the Atlanta area, as there are so many northerners here that its “Southern-ness” has been watered down. Until recently.

You may have read my blog piece about joining the Methodist Church. Well, it didn’t take me long to become a Methodist Turncoat. My neighbor asked me to attend his church – Faith Baptist – just a few miles down the road in the opposite direction to the Methodists.

Faith250To be neighborly, and because I could attend the 9:30 Baptist service and get out in time to scurry up the road to join the Methodist 11:00 service, almost begrudgingly I went to Faith Baptist Church in Monroe, Ga., for the first time. It couldn’t have taken more than three weeks to become a Full-time Baptist again.

I have shaken more hands, met more people, got invited to join more Sunday School classes, been hugged by the Preacher more times in three months than I had in the previous (off-and-on) three years with the Methodists. Oh… and eaten more food. A fish-fry, a pancake supper, a Sunday-School class breakfast at IHOP and a dinner-theatre trip to Snellville Baptist to see “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.

I remember when a newcomer came to Morningside Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama when I was living there. He claimed, “Y’all are the eatin’-est people I ever met.” I’m so glad to be a Baptist again.

And yesterday – Thanksgiving – was no exception. I was very generously invited by my new Faith Baptist friends to join a diverse group of people for fellowship, turkey and so many Southern dishes that it wasn’t until after clean-up that I noticed the gold flecks in the granite counter top.

We had turkey cooked in a fryer, white gravy with a chopped-up boiled egg in it, ham, the best dressing I’ve ever had, creamed corn, cornbread, rolls, fried okra, lima beans, turnip greens, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole (with pecans, m-m-m-m), green beans with new potatoes, but not northern green beans, barely cooked and nearly room-temperature… these babies been boiling for hours in fat-back… Lord have mercy, that’s good eatin’… and a fluffy, greenish mixture with marshmallows in it that I meant to ask the name of but had seconds instead (pistachio salad).


Naturally, there was dessert. But I was so stuffed, I only had room for a single helping each of Pecan Pie and Nanner Puddin’. (Banana Pudding) Well, truth be told, I did have seconds on the Coconut Pie – that was superb.

Now, people who attend Faith Baptist Church in Monroe Ga., are SOUTHERN. I’m pert near the only one who tawks differently. The people at the Thanksgiving dinner were no different… and I realized that. So, I tried to be multi-lingual and adapt my vocabulary according to where I was.

For example, I can’t use the words “broadloom” (wall-to-wall carpeting), “Smarties” (M&M’s) or “Gravol” (for motion sickness – Dramamine) here in the U.S. because those terms are strictly Canadian. Here in the South, a carbonated beverage is a “coke” – doesn’t matter if it’s Dr. Pepper, Sprite or even a Pepsi, only northerners call it a “pop” or a “soda”. To get around that, I ask for Sweet Tea.

I noticed yesterday that our hostess seemed to be standing beside an open-doored dishwasher, but hand-washing the “utensils required to cut one’s food into bite-sized pieces, then transport said bite-sized pieces to one’s mouth.” I wanted to ask her why she was hand-washing the “utensils”. I have always called those utensils “cutlery”. However, thinking that it might be a “Canadianism” if not even a British term I learned from my folks, I used the term, “flatware”.

Our Southern Belle, utensil-washing hostess turned and exclaimed, “Flatware, you sure are a yankee!” I was thrilled. For someone to notice that my accent stands out means that I’m where I want to be – the South. Not a watered-down version of it where most of the people sound like me.

I asked her what she called ‘flatware’?

“Navs and fowerks,” was the reply.

I love it. Fadda met these folks a year ago I wouldn’t be headed fer Canada.

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