Country-Fried Mama

A Yankee “mutha” raising kids in the deep, deep, DEEP South

Archive for the ‘My friends and neighbors’ Category

Friendly, but not nice

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Jan-30-2009

Fellow mommy blogger and transplant to the South Kathy B. wrote a great post recently about that ubiquitous Southern saying, “Bless your heart.“   I thought it was hilarious and informative.  Although we have lived here almost two years, and although Country-Fried Daddy is a Southerner, it is only recently that I have come to understand the subtext of “bless your heart.”  It sounds so sweet, and yet, as Kathy describes in her post, it so often is a pretty mask for an ugly judgment.

This reminded me of how completely I misunderstood my new neighbors when we moved here.  On our first night in our new house, two women, accompanied by several kids, came to our door with warm cookies and milk.  “How sweet!  People here are so friendly,” I said to CFD through a mouth full of chocolate chips.

I realize Yankees have a reputation for being cynical, and I often am, but in this case, I naively equated “friendly” with “nice.”   This was a mistake.

As the days passed, these women would come over and sit in the yard with me and Miss D.  I thought we were having casual conversations and maybe becoming friends.  I was wrong.

Neighbor-lady would ask: “Where did you go to school?”  Unsaid question: “Which team do you follow, and what does that say about you as a person?”

I innocently blocked this one with my alma mater.  No football team there worth discussing.  Ice hockey, shockingly, does not interest many people in these parts.

Neighbor-lady would ask: “Have you found a church home yet?”  Unsaid question: Are you a heathen?  Can I allow my children to play near your home without fearing for their safety?

I provided lots of  material on this one.  “CFD and I got married in a Unitarian Church,” I said, “but I’m Jewish.”  I didn’t get a “bless-your-heart” on that one, but I did hear, “Oh.”  Uncomfortable silence.  “I had a Jewish friend when we lived in Oklahoma.”  Surprisingly, I had never met the friend.  I must have missed her at the conventions.

Neighbor-lady would say: “You’ll love it here.  It’s so conservative.”

I tried not to laugh.  I told her I was proud of my home state, which had recently elected an African-American governor (Democrat, of course), legalized gay marriage, and instituted healthcare reform.

She smiled.

That was our last conversation.

Yankee….strike one.   Wrong church…strike two.   Liberal….strike three, and you are out.

We recently moved a few blocks away from those folks, and I think our new neighbors are probably both friendly and nice.

New-neighbor-lady brought over a casserole after Belly was born.  I was a mess.  The house was a mess.  “Oh, bless your heart,” she said as she handed me the dish.

But I think she meant it in the nice way.

Either that, or I still have a lot to learn.

Raising children is work, people. There should be meetings.

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Jan-23-2009


DATE: January 22, 2009
TO: Rebel Playgroup Crew
FROM: Country-Fried Mama (CFM)
SUBJECT: Minutes of today’s meeting

Hosting mama called the meeting to order at 10 a.m.  She offered drinks and snacks to all participants (five kids, five moms).

First order of business:  Should we feel guilty for enjoying our time together at playgroup each week when our husbands are at work earning money?

Response: Hell, no.   This is part of our job, our weekly status meeting.  During this time, we provide social interactions for our children and support for one another so that we may better tackle the very difficult work we do in almost complete solitude each day.  And the snacks are so tasty, there is no room left for guilt.

Second order of business:  My toddler is wearing me down to a nub.  What should I do?

Response: A brainstorming session ensued. All participants agreed the mama in question should prepare to wait out this heinous stage in her child’s development.   Regular attendance at weekly meetings was suggested as essential to surviving this phase.

Third order of business: Mother-in-law stories

Response: CFM declared that such talk was offensive, and would never engage in such sessions.  CFM thanked her lucky stars that Country Granny provides her with no reason to participate in this order of business.  Seriously.


  • Play-doh was cleaned off the bottom of several shoes
  • Play-doh was cleaned out of the mouth of one child (Miss D.)
  • There were six visits to the potty, most in teams of two or more
  • There were several melt-downs, but only one time-out (Miss D.)
  • One child had to be carried kicking and screaming to the car at the end of the meeting (Miss D.)
  • One child slept through most of the meeting (Belly)
  • Recipes were swapped
  • Babysitting trades were arranged
  • Peace treaties were developed and implemented in regards to the sharing of a guitar, a play kitchen, and a tricycle.  (These meetings are great training for a future in diplomacy.)
  • Important information regarding people not present was shared (Some might call this gossip, but if they did, we would talk trash about them.)

Action items for next meeting: Determine punishment for those who share intimate secrets of weekly meetings with strangers via the Web.

Respectfully submitted,

Country-Fried Mama

11 p.m. in the Garden of Cheesecake and French Fries

Posted by CountryFriedMama on Jan-17-2009

The other night, several of us were out to dinner at a suburban chain restaurant that we just cannot break ourselves from frequenting.  The place blasts horrible muzak, the food is incredibly fattening, and the coffee tastes like warm mud, but it’s pretty much the only place in town that will allow us to sit in a booth from seven to eleven p.m. on a weeknight.

We rarely spend those hours discussing world politics or the best way to improve the economy.  Doubtless we would not agree on those topics.  We do, however, often agree on how our husbands should show appreciation for us (flowers, food, and professional cleaning help top the list), the best way to deal with the terrible two’s (patience and frequent kid-free nights out), and the understanding that pretty much everyone we know is crazy in his or her own way.

During this marathon visits to our favorite bad restaurant, one of these lovely ladies started talking about a woman at work who is really struggling.  It seems that she and her husband are trying to get their sno-cone business off the ground, and they have sunk everything they have into this venture.  This about made me blow strawberry shortcake out my nose.  This couple’s dream is to sell sno-cones professionally.  That is AWESOME.  I pictured a warehouse full of Snoopy Sno-Cone Machines and a bunch of under-age workers furiously churning out little paper cups full of red ice.  How could such an effort possibly fail to make money?

We started talking about how the rest of the world needs to know about this local couple who dare to dream.  They could be the focus of the next great Southern novel, or even a non-fiction piece a la John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Have you read it?  A Yankee writer moves South and encounters murder and eccentric locals:

“I’ve only been here three days and it’s just a shooting, but give it time, okay. This place is fantastic. It’s like Gone With the Wind on Mescalin. I know you’re my agent. Listen to me, they walk imaginary pets here, Garland. On a fucking leash. Alright? And they’re all heavily armed and drunk. New York is boring!” (IMDB)

I do not live in Savannah, the setting of Berendt’s book, and I am not having near the adventure that he did, but there are characters here ripe for the picking.

All I need is a sensational crime to go with my sno-cone story, and I’m certain I could find a publisher.  I have a dedication in mind already: “To A., who attracts crazy like no one I’ve ever known before.  Seriously.”

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