…at least not in NYC. I’m not just talking about the calf roping – excuse me – ultimate calf roping, either. I was referring more to the ‘Have a blessed day’ portion of the sign. It’s not often that you have people wishing you a blessed anything in New York. It’s not that we don’t have Christians and other religious types up north (contrary to popular belief), they just seem to be less demonstrative than their southern brethren.
For instance, the following exchange would NEVER happen at my neighborhood grocery store in West Harlem.
Old lady – riding a motorized scooter in Walmart, trying unsuccessfully to reach a can of pickled beets.
Young mother – pushing a cart with her baby, grabs the can and hands it to the old lady.
YM: Here ya go! (She was super perky, hence the exclamation point.)
OL: Well thank you so very much! (She was equally perky, only in a slower, wizened old lady sort of way.)
YM: It’s no trouble at all.
OL: Bless your heart! Y’all go with Jesus. (Not even kidding.)
YM: We will! And the same to you! (She waved goodbye and made the baby wave too.)
Here’s how that same scenario would’ve played out in Harlem:
Old lady – hobbling up and down the aisles because she probably doesn’t have insurance and can’t afford a power scooter, (that and, the aisles in my local grocery store are way too narrow to accomodate one anyway) reaches for a can.
Me (with headphones) – breezing up and down the aisles actively trying not to make eye contact with anyone.
OL: ¿Puedes darme la lata de frijoles refritos? (A stereotypical example for sure, but you get the idea.)
Me: (reluctantly taking out ear buds) Huh?
OL: (pointing for emphasis) ¿Puedes darme la lata de frijoles refritos?
Me: Lo siento, no hablo español… a excepción de esta frase.
Then (because contrary to the way I sometimes present myself on this blog, I’m not a racist bitch) there would be a long, drawn out pantomime where I would try to figure out what she wanted and odds are, we’d both walk away frustrated. There certainly would be no invoking of Jesus’ name…at least not until we were out of ear shot of one another, and even then I’m sure the context would be quite different.
Okay, perhaps that example is a bit extreme. Here’s the less offensive version:
Old lady – riding the very same motor scooter in the local Stop & Shop near my parent’s house in Massachusetts, reaches for a can of baked beans. (Regionalisms must be observed.)
Me – wandering up and down the aisles reading all the signs hanging from the ceiling because it’s been more than ten years since I worked at that particular grocery store and they’ve moved everything around so I no longer know where anything is, sees old lady reaching for can and hands it to her.
Me: Here you go.
OL: Thank you very much, dear.
Me: You’re welcome.
Then everyone walks (or scoots) away and goes back to minding their own business in the polite, somewhat detached manner of a good New Englander. It’s not that we’re averse to helping our fellow man. It’s more that we’re generally so terrified of offending each other that it’s simply safer to politely ignore everyone unless absolutely necessary.
Not so in Texas. Or the south in general for that matter. Round here, folks seem to have no compunction about gettin’ all up in each other’s business. And that includes expressing their religious beliefs to anyone and everyone who happens to cross their path.
While some may think that’s obnoxious, I find it rather refreshing. I’m not talking about those nutjob bible-thumpers who patrol the subways of Manhattan, shoving their faith in your face in a desperate attempt to save all the godless heathens of Gotham City. No, they’re awful. Though on most days it’s entertaining rather than annoying. I’m referring more to the pervasive political correctness that has taken over our country, particularly the northeast.
It’s kind of nice to be in a place where people feel free to say pretty much whatever they want. Through my extensive travels, I’ve since learned that you can say whatever you want about whomever you want so long as you follow it up with, ‘Bless his/her heart.’ The trick is, it only works if you grew up south of the Mason-Dixon line. We don’t have an equivalent ‘get out of jail free’ card in northern vernacular and I think we need one. I suppose a case could be made for ‘God love her,’ but it certainly doesn’t have the popularity or universal appeal of a ‘Bless her heart.’
How nice would it be to be able to say, ‘What a heinous bitch!’ and have it completely negated with a wonderfully passive-agressive, ‘Darwin love her.’ (I’m still working on a replacement for God in the phrase to accomodate my atheist friends. And no, the irony is not lost on me that even in my attempt to be less politically correct, I’m getting bogged down by political correctness. If you have any better ideas, please put them in the comments section below.)
Well, it seems yet another of my blog posts has gone completely off the rails. Meh. What can you do? I mean, you could stop reading, but I’d advise against it. Tomorrow’s post involves big-game taxidermy and you wouldn’t want to miss that!
UPDATE: As I was sitting in Starbucks editing this post, a group of white, middle-aged businessmen came in and sat down at the table next to mine. They were mostly talking about business-y stuff until their conversation devolved into discussions about their personal lives. Then, out of nowhere, one of them busts out the N word! THE N WORD!! I think he was referring to his ‘yard man,’ mostly because he outright said, ‘You know that n-word I hired to be my new yard man…?’ Which totally confused me because I thought that all of the ‘landscape artists’ in this part of the country were supposed to be Mexican…
In any case, it made me feel REALLY uncomfortable and I’d like to state for the record that – I TAKE IT ALL BACK! Saying whatever you want, whenever you want, about whomever you want regardless of whether or not you bless their heart is clearly too much for my puritanical New Englander sensibilities. I think I’ll go back to politely ignoring everyone now, thank you very much.
UPDATE #2: Apparently I’m not very good at ignoring people. I’ve been sitting in this Starbucks for about four hours now, and in that time I have witnessed no less than three bible study groups. No judgement, it’s just not something you see everyday (or ever) in New York so I thought I’d mention it. I think it’s safe to conclude that Texas is all about the Jesus. He’s a wicked big deal down here.
Later y’all! Vaya con Dios!