Proper Southern Manners
Make no mistake about it, manners matter in Dixie! Good manners
make life more pleasant for everyone. Good manners are what make Southerners
different from those who aren't from here. You cannot take good manners
too seriously in the South.
The Fundamentals of Good Manners
These five fundamentals should set you
in good stead. Good manners are extended to everybody, regardless of whether
you know them, on which side of town they live, or whether they tithe.
Be Humble: Others first, yourself
last. Self-denial and deference to others ("After you") are the
cornerstone of good manners, acting selfish or uppity is not. This commandment
is indisputably rooted in the Bible Belt theology ("the first shall
be last, and the last shall be first").
Be Courteous: Remember the Golden Rule.
Go out of your way to be helpful and kind to everyone you encounter.
Behave Yourself: Don't be uncouth,
rude, brash, loud, coarse, or cause a commotion in public. Only trashy
types do such things.....and obviously this is because they
weren't raised to know better.
Be Friendly: Put your friendliest foot
forward, whether you've been properly introduced or don't know the person
from a hole in the ground. Be sociable and neighborly, just like you learned
in Sunday School ("Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself").
Be Modest: Never be highfalutin'. Practice
modesty in all situations. "Why, shucks, I guess I was in the right
place at the right time" would work just fine upon learning that you
had won the Pulitzer Prize. "Of course I won it, I deserve to"
would absolutely categorize you as too big for your britches.
Common Courtesies in Dixie
Say "please" without fail. Please, always say "please"
when you make a requet, no matter how trivial or important.
Always ask, never tell. The only way to make
a request is to ask for it, directives are much too surly. "Would
you please carry me up the road a piece?" is correct. "Give me
a ride to the market" is most assuredly not.
Say "Thank you" without fail. Upon
being granted your request--be it a personal favor or impersonal transaction--always
look the other party in the eye, give them a pleasing smile, and cheerily
say, "Thank you". To show them you're really grateful, dress
it up with "Thank you kindly," "Thanks a whole lot,"
"Preciate it". If your request is denied, say "Well, thank
you anyway." Using your best turn-the-other-cheek manner.
Say "ma'am" and "sir"
without fail. If any adult your senior addresses you (or vice versa), automatically
attach the appropriate title to your response ("Yes ma'am, "I
reckon so, Sir", "Pardon me ma'am"). Neglecting this rule
is apt to be interpreted as arrogance or insolence or just plain bad upbringing.
Always refer to those of the female gender as Ladies. The descriptive
woman is usually reserved in Dixie for females of questionable respect.
If you are a gentleman, then treat all ladies with courtness, deference,
and respect you'd accord members of the royal family since, in the South,
ladies occupy such status. This is an immutable rule of order in Dixie,
no matter what may be happening elsewhere on this planet.
Chivalry may not be well appreciated outside
the South today, but you can be sure that around home territory a true
gentleman will so honor a lady:
Hold the door open for all members of the
fairer sex, regardless of their social station.
Stand when a lady enters or leaves a room.
Walk on the streetside of a side-walk,
when accompanying a lady.
Order for both of you when at a restaurant
(excluding business meals).
Always call his mother "Mamma"
or "mutha" or "Mrs. -------"-never by her first name,
no matter what his age.
My Daddy Said
As my daddy told me many years ago, "Good
manners do not cost you anything to exercise, but the lack of them may
cost you dearly further down the road".
My daddy also told me "Treat all ladies
as ladies, no matter what you have heard and continue to do so until she
proves to you that she is not a lady".
He also said " A man's word is his bond and that you come into this world with only your name and will leave this world the same and how you are remembered is how you kept the honor of your name".
The last quote that I will make of my daddy's
is "The manners that your children exhibit to you and the public are
a direct reflection of you".
Political correctness is a cop-out
to explain away the failures of our leaders, clergy, teachers, and most
of all PARENTS. Morals and Manners are never out of style and are a prerequlsite
of all Southern Ladies and Gentlemen!
Thomas C. Cardwell
"The Fundementals of Good Manners",
"Proper Southern Manners", and "Common Courtesies in Dixie",
are from the book, Having It Ya'll, 1993 by Ann Barrett Batson, published
by Rutledge Hill Press.
The background music is "Dixie"
by ReWEP Associates.