I got my first negative blog comment. While I was initially annoyed, I soon got a tiny bit excited. I’ve been told trolls and negativity comes with the territory. So I feel I’ve finally arrived. It really wasn’t an ugly or vicious comment, just surprising.
The comment was on a story titled Bless Your Heart, that was about this quintessential southern phrase that I use all the time. Pwrjhp left the comment, “What you are saying here is similar to asserting that just because someone might say, “thank you very much” in a sarcastic way, that this is always how it’s intended. To say this phrase is merely a passive-aggressive insult is a severe simplification of both the phrase itself and southern mood. Please stop perpetuating this idiotic myth that turns people against southerners.”
See…it’s not awful, just baffling. Has this person never watched “Shit Southern Women Say”? My first thought when I read this comment really was…”well, bless their heart, they don’t know what colloquialism is.”
There are many idiotic things in the South that offend me. I’m deeply offended by comments by the bearded patriarch of Duck Dynasty. I’m offended by the poverty and racism and hate that still exist in this neck of the woods. But I have traveled the world and have found small mindedness is not only something that lives in my Deep South. I’m offended when I travel away from home that people feel safe to spew their racist vitriol because they assume I’m what their stereotypical image of a Southerner is, and that I’ll agree with their vicious ideas.
I will be the first to admit that living in the South has its challenges, however, so does every place. But the lovely uniqueness of the way we talk down here is not one of the problems that needs fixin’. In a world that’s becoming one big strip mall, with the same Wal-Mart, the same Appleby’s, the same Old Navy and the same Taco Bell, I celebrate the things that set us apart and make us unique.
My sweetie and I just went to breakfast at a favorite local diner called Frank’s. I love their homemade buttermilk biscuits, grits, boudin omelet and sausage from their smokehouse. I’ll have a dark, rich cup of our local brew, Community Coffee. It’s poured by a waitress who’ll call me honey or sugar or darlin’. It’s full of people wearing LSU purple. I see the cook busy serving up plates has a camo baseball cap on. I’m perfectly comfortable with the deer heads on the wall even though I’ve never gone hunting. This place is indigenous to where I live. And I prefer to go to Frank’s over Shoney’s breakfast buffet any day of the week. It’s all part of my Southern heritage and I embrace it.
So thank you for your comment. It has made me think about where I live. I wish the media would talk about William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin or Harper Lee instead of Duck Dynasty, Swamp People or Honey Boo Boo.
One of my favorite contemporary authors is Rick Bragg. When I read his words I hear his distinctive southern voice. I’ve heard him speak at the Louisiana Book Festival; he talks about writing in your authentic voice. I embrace the southern part of me that says y’all and fixin’ to and calls all soft drinks a coke. You see, I really do say bless your heart and so does my mama and dem. And it often is dripping in other meaning.
There’s really only one thing left to say to Pwrjhp, “Thank you very much and Bless Your Heart.”
If you like My Creative Journey, I’d love for you to follow me. Here’s some other stories I’ve written about living in this part of the country.
New Orleans, a feast for the senses
Argo, the Ayatollah, Eudora Welty and First Apartments
The Importance of Doing Nothing
Love it. I see nothing wrong with noting and incorporating regional phrases. And, Bless Your Heart is pretty innocuous. It’s a phrase this Virginian uses from time to time when absolutely called for… you know those occasions.
Walker, I do know those occasions! Sometimes it’s the only phrase that’ll work!
As a lifelong Southerner, I have heard “bless your heart” used in a sincerely empathetic way, once or twice. More often, it is a way of nicely saying somebody’s not too sharp, like, “He ran his car into a tree, again, bless his heart.”
Kim, I went on a cruise and the comedian on board had a whole act on the phrase and how it’s used! And it didn’t translate to a blessing.
I really have heard it used sincerely, and nicely.
Kim, I’ve used it sincerely. It’s all about context. Thanks for commenting!!
Aw, this is sweet. I love every description and see it all so vividly. Of course I’ve been to Frank’s too and have seen the same purple-wearing LSU fans and Flo waitresses. I agree with everything you said….and now I’m fixin to drink my Community Coffee and start my day.
Lisa, we’re both so Southern, we don’t even hear each other’s accents!!
Bless your heart for saying a phrase that is so endearing to me. Up here we have phrases, too. Like “MOVE OVER OR GET RUN OVER!” Seriously, though, we do have nice ones. And there’s nothing wrong with noting regional dialect and phraseology. It’s what makes this country get!
Bless YOUR heart, my dear friend.
Cathy, “move over or get run over” is a great phrase!
Very well done Connie! Now, what about a blog about “Poor Thing?”
Great idea Orhan!
I so get it, Connie, and wish I was at breakfast with you at Franks, right now!
I wish I had eaten at Franks too, but I need to cut back on my beloved southern-fried food. This morning was yogurt and a walk—so boring—but at least I don’t need a nap after breakfast. LOL
My family is from New Orleans & Plaquemines Parish, where our family home La Terre Promise’ was built in the 1700’s & remains today, occupied by my brother & his family. I was born in 1951 & therefore was in the generation where manners were imperative. Southern ladies never cursed or said anything derogatory about others in public. We are, however, clever, well spoken and able to get our point across with no misunderstanding. “Bless your heart” & “Poor thing” are not terms of endearment ….. & it’s sure not an idiotic myth, I consider it a talent, sweetie xoxo
Michelle, I can imagine your family home in my mind. What a beautiful name La Terre Promise’. What a gift that you have that connection to your family’s history. There are many things i do love about living in the South. The connection to others, the civiiity and the sense of humor that is part of this region are a few of the reasons. I love your twitter hame, cajun cutie! Thank you for your kind comment.
Well, bless that commenter’s heart for inspiring such a great post. That phrase makes me smile every single time I hear it — especially when it comes from you.
Lois, I thought of you when I was writing this!! Bless both our hearts!
Hi Connie! Congratulations! Until people start leaving comments that don’t necessarily agree with what you wrote they are likely just friends….Not that I don’t (and I’m sure you don’t) love having lots of friends…but I want more for my writing and I figure that contrary comments are just part of that journey. Of course what is really funny is how half of the time the comment “in question” doesn’t make that much sense. It’s as though the person didn’t really read what you said or interpreted it in a very strange way. Still, all part of the journey I suppose! And surely your commenter never heard Brene Brown rail against the old “bless your heart” phrase or she/he wouldn’t have been surprised at your statement! ~Kathy
Thanks Kathy for your insightful comment. You’re right, it is all part of the writing journey. The comment also made me think and pushed my writing. the comment was well written and not ugly, so it wasn’t a troll, just someone with another point of view. I have to appreciate that they took their time out to diasagree.
awesome! it’s great when you get dialogue going like that — good for you
Con, I loved it! Bless your heart for so eloquently describing a phrase I used daily. Also for reminding me about Frank’s. That part inspired me to cook. Go figure. Pork chops, fried cabbage and smothered greens. Bless my heart! Miss you.
Karen, I miss you!! I’m glad you cooked yourself some good southern comfort food. You’ll need it to keep you warm since you’re living up North!! Bless both our hearts and stay warm.
I have a friend from Georgia who is now, sadly for me, living in Tennessee — she joined us Yankees for a few years — she said “bless your heart” ALL the time and, if you knew her like I did, you would know that it wasn’t a “good” thing (necessarily) —- it’s a nuanced phrase and unique in its “southernness” — I loved it, along with some of her other, even more “colorful” expressions!
She and I could often be found “fixin'” to do some cockamamie thing or another! I sorely miss that!
It is very sad that we are becoming more “generic”, more “vanilla” and, I’ve noticed, less linguistically accented —- I don’t know how else to say that we are losing a lot of the regionalisms and speech patterns that distinguish us from our fellow countrymen — and, it’s a crying shame.
I love going to other parts of the country and being easily identified as a New Yorker (I’m actually from New Jersey, but to a Michiganer it’s all the same — I don’t get offended, I’m proud to have spent my life no more than 20 miles from the greatest city in the world!)!
You keep right on “blessing people’s hearts” and I’ll continue saying “How YOU doin’?” It’s who we are!
Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. I’m glad you learned some “southernisms” and made a lifelong friend. Did you know that a New Orleans accent is easily mistaken for a Bronx accent? I’ve heard it’s because of the Irish who first landed in NYC and later moved to NO.
I love NYC and that it’s a city made up of neighborhoods. We need to all embrace our uniqueness as well as the uniqueness of others. I don’t think there’s another city in the world that does that better than New York. So keep saying “How you doin”, and I hope you and your southern buddy get together for more cockamamie adventures!
Congratulations on your first negative comment – and I appreciate the spirit in which you responded to it! Frank’s sounds amazing – we have a place here that’s our “Frank’s” – and I’d rather spend time and money there than at any chain restaurant. Thank you for sharing your Southern experiences!
Thanks Laurel! So much of south Louisiana culture revolves around food. Eating and drinking and then taking about it and then talking about what the next meal is going to be, is what we do down here!
From: Connie McLeod Reply-To: Connie McLeod Date: Sunday, January 5, 2014 8:24 AM To: Thom Harris Subject: [New post] Bless Your Heart: An Epilogue
WordPress.com conniemcleod posted: “I got my first negative blog comment. While I was initially annoyed, I soon got a tiny bit excited. I¹ve been told trolls and negativity comes with the territory. So I feel I¹ve finally arrived. It really wasn¹t an ugly or vicious comment, just surprising”
Thom, I see on an email notification that you said “like”. Thanks!
Yeah, we’re from Canada, eh? Land of ice, snow, Tim Hortons coffee (alleged), hosers, hockey, and back bacon. So we totally get it about embracing our regional differences. Also? Pwrjhp needs to develop a sense of humour. Preferably one that includes a “u,” but we’re not fussy.
Your comment really did make me laugh out loud.
As a native New Yorker I can understand. So many take the brusque, loud manner of many from my home state as rude, when in reality it’s just the way many New Yorkers communicate!
Sharon, I remember the first time I went to NYC. I was expecting a place where people wouldn’t have time for you, but I found the New Yorkers warm and friendly. I fell in love with the city and all the people I met.
Crazy. I lived in the south for a dozen years and it was used sincerely. Also sarcastically, but anything can be said sarcastically. Including, “aren’t you sweet…”
Exactly, it’s all about context!
To say the person who left the comment overreacted is putting it mildly. I love the expression and wish it were used more up north. We just have “fugettaboutit.”
Helene, “fugettaboutit” is pretty awesome! It wouldn’t sound natural coming out of my mouth, but it’s a good one!
I love hearing about your wonderful southern roots Connie- and it’s exactly like I imagined it to be. Coming from California where everything is young and new- it really makes me see that there are many areas of this country that are wonderful and different. Someday.. i’ll see it all! Virginia
Virginia, We do need to spend time in each other’s back yards!
When I lived in Atlanta, everyone said “bless your heart” and I found it endearing!
Julie, it’s how we talk!
How interesting! I am a native Seattleite, so perhaps I am the first person from the Pacific Northwest to comment. I have never heard anyone say “bless your heart.” It’s not used here. People are not shy about saying, “He’s an idiot,” or even, “You’re an idiot.” And “God bless you” is always sincere.
I’d love to travel to the South someday to experience the Southern culture.
I do have a question. Is it true that in Louisiana people ask about your family before getting to business? Up here, that is considered rude.
I remember being offended because this certain account executive who came into our mortgage office to solicit business always asked if I had kids, etc. I was very curt, thinking, “How dare you ask about my children when you don’t even know me!”
Later, when we became friends, she explained that in Louisiana, where she was from, it was polite to ask about family before delving into business.
Maybe that would be a topic for another blog post?
Carolyn, Thanks for stopping by! I have a few friends and family who live up in the Pacific Northwest. It is so beautiful; I’d love to get back for a visit.
People in the South pride themselves on being polite and friendly. There’s a phrase often heard here in Louisiana after you first meet someone, “Who’s your Mama?” There’s even a cookbook called “Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make A Roux?” It’s not meant as a Drill Sargent grilling you for background, but as a way to make a connection.
I delight in regional differences, but we all need to be sensitive to cultural differences. While traveling in Singapore, I was told not to touch or pat a child on the head. What’s a loving touch here, is considered rude there.
I hope you do make it down South. There are certainly differences and there are differences within the South, but we all celebrate hospitality. And South Louisiana, like Seattle loves a good strong cup of coffee!
Southern culture sounds charming! Thank you for your kind reply.
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This is a wonderful post. I moved from NY to SC 6 years ago. Long enough to every “bless your heart” nuance. I use it myself now that I figured out how to use it properly.
I’m offended by Duck Dynasty too.
And I’m a born and bred northerner who knows there’s as much racism and bigotry up north as there is here–maybe more–but it’s hidden better.
The oddest thing that happens when I travel is the because of my southern accent, people feel free to say the most racist things. And I’ve had people mock amy accent and assume I’m ignorant. It’s a challenging time we live in. I try to follow the teaching of Mother Teresa who said to always act out of kindness.