I realized after my weekend in Philadelphia I was going be mildly outside the norm.  Not as though I’m a freak to begin with (although I’m sure there are many of you out there who could make a pretty long list–please don’t) but I do come from North Florida, where confusion exists as to our nationality: Southern (like Georgia/Alabama), or Cuban/NewYorker (like Miami/Boca Raton).

Most people fall decidedly in the “Southern” category.  These are the people who wear their cowboy boots to their own weddings, who sometimes just as much weight in front of themselves as behind, who aren’t sure that “you’ll” is correct (but know God–with a capital G–definitely said “y’all” somewhere in the Bible), who wave The Banner of The Republic (also know as the Confederate Flag) between the two giant antennae of their jacked up truck–although I’ll admit sometimes the more liberal ones just wave the American flag, who wear bibs while their eating BBQ because usually their beer belly is the perfect place to rest their messy hands because it allows minimal movement, who own acres of land and have shot at a target on every tree on the property, who…  I’m gonna have to stop there.  This list gets depressing after a while.

And then there are the “erudite” Boca Moms who wear the really classy “Juicy”-written-on-the-butt pants to go grocery shopping (and to highlight their recently plastic surgeried buttocks), the Cubans who hang out at La Fiesta because it’s their only stronghold in the city (and feels just like home), while the liberal Cubans hang out at Gordo’s because they just smoke a lot, and the Boca dads who are invariably in Tallahassee only on government business and disdain everything about Tallahassee mainly citing the fact that the classiest hotel is the Double Tree downtown (where I once had a delicious, but kind of dry, Thanksgiving dinner with the entire family)…and this list goes on too, but it only starts to annoy me.

So anyways, I’ve been deciding what parts of my Southern heritage I should pack away and bring to these strangers up north who don’t know how deliciously disgusting a Sonny’s All You Can Eat is (both healthily, and visually).  I mean, this culture may not be much (or it actually may be running into the negatives these days), but it’s all I’ve got–along with my sense of superiority for trying to get out for a couple of years before I inevitably get sucked back in by some lame excuse–like the lack of frolf courses.

I started to make a list when I realized everything I was bringing could usually be purchased in gallon form, which is when I stopped and thought: “This is a bad idea.”  I also realized this is probably why I’ve been slowly trying to fight off obesity for the last ten years (with general failure), and why every family event ever, absolutely no exceptions, all involve not only eating, but such excessive eating as to require at least two meals, one nap, at least five (soon to be empty) bottles of wine, ungodly amounts of leftovers, and gravy.  Even my graduation involved gravy–don’t ask how, even I wasn’t comfortable with it.  And I specifically blame Paula Dean for that.

Cradling those few words (y’all, mayaam, howdi, and mullet) of the true grassroots civilization in my mind, I set off towards the north (of the War of Northern Agression fame) in search of a few converts.  Actually, no, that’s a lie.  I’m probably going to try as hard a possible to lose any trace of an accent and southern habits and become the cold, unwelcoming, and indifferently hostile conservative individual wearing all dark clothes who walks by a dying kitten on the sidewalk, sees just a part of it out of the corner of my eye, and thinks “When will those homeless people just get a job already?” as I walk towards work.  I’m looking forward to that.

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