Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Lone Sap State

The Lone Sap State - by Amy Lignor of The Write Companion
Leaving the world of Yankee”dom” behind - tired of the ridiculous amounts of snow that made us into depressed, Vitamin-D deprived zombies - my daughter and I set out on the road to explore new destinations and meet interesting, exciting people. One of the most educational parts for me during our adventures was learning early on, that although we are all Americans, per se, the people, culture and societies are very different as you travel North to South and East to West. The way children are raised differs from town to town and coast to coast with generations that have gone before leaving behind very specific ways of doing things. Take education for example. I have to tell you…I have no clue why phonics came into being. I suppose there are a ton of studies out there that show you it’s easier for a child to learn by sounding a word out like l-e-fant, but then the child has to learn it all over again anyway in order to spell the word correctly in the first place. Seems a little odd to me. Wouldn’t it be easier to learn how to spell it right the first time? I mean even the word phonics isn’t spelled phonetically…so you figure it out.
As my daughter and I moved from north to south, I slowly began to realize odd things such as the south seems to still be riled up by the Civil War, beginning with the fact that they still refer to the time period as The War of Northern Aggression.  I never debated the Southerners on this point. Seeing as that I’m Northern and completely filled with aggression, it seemed fair.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the South. We had so much fun there and met an enormous number of unique, unforgettable people. Our Southern Experience first began when my daughter spied a sign off I-40 in Tennessee. There was a town just sort of sitting there beside the highway called Bucksnort. Now Bucksnort is a very small village - like the kind I was born in, actually. Where everyone knew everyone’s name, business, etc. and even when they didn’t actually KNOW it, they made it up. Bucksnort had no post office and its claim to fame was that a couple of wrestlers called it home. My daughter absolutely loved this town. In fact, she begged to get off the highway in order to see the village and for years after begged me to go back to ‘Bugsnot.’ (Don’t take this as a jibe, people. This was a five-year-old and that’s just the way she read it…phonetically perhaps?)
Moving on, we finally settled for the first time in the "Big D."  Dallas, Texas was a fantastical place in the eyes of a child - like Oz. The big buildings, the highways filled with traffic, and the huge Reunion Ball blinking on and off at night as if it were a beacon to all us vagabonds calling us home. Dallas encompasses years of our lives that were filled every single day with something different. There, I found out the definition of "being as angry as a ruptured duck." I was once asked where I was from - replied, "New England," and watched a strange confused look cross the questioner’s face who then said, "That’s funny…you don’t sound British." I was also sat down by someone who explained to me, as if I was a three-year-old needing a guiding hand, that Dallas and Fort Worth were definitely NOT the same area, even though the airport is most definitely called DFW. I was educated on the difference between the high society of Dallas and what she referred to as the ‘horse-people’ who settled the Forth Worth area. By the way, to be fair, a gentleman from Ft. Worth referred to the people of Dallas as a "little slower" than the rest of the world - so opinions were many. And I will always remember the time in the Texas stadium when my daughter made sure, in her loudest voice, that everyone there knew I was a 49’ers fan. (How we survived that day…I’ll never know.) I rolled my eyes a great deal, furrowed my brow a lot, but ended up absolutely loving the citizens who crossed my path. These colorful characters were just what a boring Northern girl filled with aggression needed to be exposed to. Not to mention, the polite manners - with a please, thank you, excuse me - which were always delivered with a shiny smile and a bright and happy ‘y’all’ made me truly wonder how the Texas-Cheerleader-Murdering Mom ever came into being.
When we left the area, we wanted to take something that would always remind us of the laughter and fun we had there. Entering a mall filled with tchotchkes (chach-KEEs)…see the phonics there? I stumbled across something that really fit. Picking up a shot glass, I adjusted my glasses and focused on the familiar star imprinted in gold. Underneath the iconic symbol was written, "Thank you for visiting the Lone Sap State." I still have this item, and when I look at it I think back to all those characters. I nod my head and miss those good-hearted people who definitely had their own way of getting across their ideas. I always give them the benefit of the doubt, though. After all…perhaps it was just phonics gone awry.
Next Week: An Ode to Fathers

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