A Convert Comes Clean

They say that converts are the worst.  Reformed carb addicts have been known to snatch a piece of still warm baguette from your hands while shrieking, “You’ll THANK me for this!”  Reformed smokers complain the loudest when a whiff of a stray puff so much as crosses their nostrils.  And I may be the worst convert of all – because I, too, am reformed.

I’ll admit it; I’m a former Hug Hater.  Now without warning I may embrace you in a bear hug like Joe Biden on the campaign trail.


This conversion is particularly noteworthy because I was not raised by a family of Huggers.  My tribe has never been prone to displays of affection.  Not that we were Luddites or lacking human emotion, but all of us would agree our personal space needs are bigger than most.  Hugs were an expression deemed acceptable only on special occasions.

Most of my life I wished I could deploy an Anti-Hugging Vest.  Much like the airline safety floatation device, I could pull the rip cord on the AHV which would inflate in the event of an unexpected hug.  The AHV could provide that body space buffer zone to make that awkward encounter a little more tolerable.

I was perfectly content with all acknowledgements expressed in the form of Hug Substitutes. An animated wave, a hearty handshake or even a high five were totally acceptable.  But when anyone attempted to breach my space bubble by coming in my direction with outstretched arms, I’d freeze in place, most likely with my face frozen in a look of complete horror. [Read more…]

Back to the Real World


For some, thinking about Europe this month brings to mind the Tour de France. But for me this month in Europe represented the Tour de Biergartens.Because I was going to Germany and Austria.
Now admittedly, I was even more nervous flying this time since the Air France Airbus vanished midflight in June. I knew this flight would involve white knuckles, hyperventilation and most assuredly the use of prescription pharmaceuticals. Of course, I never contemplated cancelling the trip, even I am logical enough to realize the stupidity of that thought. But I did contemplate horse tranquillizers.
But on my arrival in Munich, I knew I’d found the land of my people. A place where beer for breakfast is not entirely out of the question. A place where you can find a biergarten on almost every corner. And I did my very best to hit every one in Munich and Salzburg not to mention all points in between. Not to pat myself on the back but I must say, job well done.
But now sadly it is back home to the real world, real life and real big loads of laundry. For now anyway. But I will return to the land of my grandfathers to refill my giant beer mug and sit in the shade of the chestnut trees. I am smitten. And how can you not love a country that sells beer, right alongside the Snickers, in the vending machine at the airport hotel?



My Old Kentucky Home

I hope the sun is shining bright on my Old Kentucky Home today – it’s Derby Day! Best time of the year to be in Lou-a-vull. Two weeks of non-stop partying and festivals in celebration of the fastest two minutes in sports.

In honor of the Run for the Roses and my Southern heritage, I’m posting my column from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle on April 25.

Strange things happened on my roundabout journey to Montana – I lost a lot of stuff. Not the things that went missing between Indiana and Wyoming. Not the possessions that I left on the side of the road in New York because they wouldn’t fit in my Montana-bound U-Haul. What I lost is something that I miss most – my y’all.

I hail from the land of fried chicken, grits and sweet tea. I was born and raised in the Bluegrass State where the thoroughbreds will Run for the Roses next Saturday in the Kentucky Derby. While there’s no way to convey my Southern accent in writing, if you ever overhear me ordering pie, it’s a dead giveaway. If I get talking fast enough, my accent becomes so thick it threatens to strangle every word.

Try as I might, I’ve never been able to shake my twang. But after moving around the country so often, I took great pains to remove all Southernisms from my vernacular. I’ve told people I’m from Louie-ville, not Lou-uh-vull as the good Lord intended it be pronounced. But I quickly learned if I said it correctly, people would look at me with their head cocked to one side like the Victrola dog.

Not surprisingly, some people equate a Southern accent with being a dim bulb. I’m guessing these are the same folks who have witnessed a mullet-headed male, usually clad in a tank top, utter -“Watch this, y’all” – signaling their imminent Jackass inspired demise.

But we really do sit a spell and chew the fat. We say Ma’am. On Sunday afternoon we go over to Mom and Thems (pronounced correctly as one word and rhymes with homonyms). We fry everything from okra to Twinkies. We always have enough fixins on hand to whip up a casserole or Jell-o mold in case of a bereavement emergency.

A Southern woman’s daily conversation is sprinkled with colorful phrases particularly when sniping about other women. Hushed whispers occur when a woman has let herself go to pot. This is especially true when said woman has developed a front fanny at which point you can’t tell whether she’s comin’ or goin’. (We also drop the ‘g’ at the end of all words). Under no circumstances should a woman ever look like she’s been rode hard and put up wet or throw a hissy fit in public. The worst offense is for an uppity gal to get above her raisin’. And as all Southern women know, uttering “bless her heart” after any derogatory comment negates the meanness – well, most of it anyway.

Our unusual terminology can even be found in the legal system. In a murder trial a witness can succinctly sum up the character of the deceased for the jury with “Your honor, he needed killin’.”

Most of this was easy to eliminate from my daily jargon. But the idiom that has caused the most consternation for me was a staple of my speech – the word y’all. But after being stared at blankly when I’d say it anywhere outside the Mason-Dixon Line, I simply gave up. By the time I was living in New York, not only had I lost my y’all – I had substituted “you guys” in an effort to promote cross-cultural understanding. (I’m sure Grandmammy Kate was spinning in her pine box at this juncture.)

But now I aim to give my Southern dialect its due. I vow to embrace the verbal eccentricities of my heritage ‘cause that would just butter my biscuit. I reckon y’all won’t mind. And I’d sure be much obliged.

Denise Malloy misses hush puppies almost as much as her y’all.

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