Monday, February 11, 2013

On being Southern ... ish

Sometimes I wish I was more Southern. I'm not sure that's common, but there it is.

I was born in Cary, which is about as far from Southern as you can get in North Carolina. (Charlotte is probably a close second.) If you've heard of Cary, you've heard of its nickname: Central Area for Relocated Yankees. And it's true.

Sitting just west of Raleigh, the "Town" of Cary is the seventh largest city in the state, thanks to technology jobs coming to SAS and Research Triangle Park. It's a great place to grow up; It's not the South.

My family is from the South. My mom grew up in Greensboro. My dad grew up in Roanoke Rapids. The Inscoes came from England and settled in southern Virginia, into northeast North Carolina.

My parents don't have strong accents, though. At least none that I notice. I don't think I have much of an accent either.

Sure, it comes out sometimes in the "yessirs" and "ma'ams" and the "y'alls." I can fake one pretty well. But when I travel to the mountains or down East, I realize I've got nothin'.

I love my barbecue (Eastern style, please). I grew up on NASCAR and love football. I'll take some liver puddin' for breakfast and a hot dog with chili and slaw for lunch and some fried chicken for dinner. I'll take some bourbon for a nightcap.

I've always liked bluegrass and can even appreciate some country music.

But I've never been hunting. I've only fished a handful of times. I grew up in a townhouse less than a mile from the Cary Towne Center mall. I've never lived more than a couple of miles from a WalMart or Harris Teeter.

I never did yard work until I moved into my current house. I guess yard work isn't a distinctly Southern thing, but it feels un-Southern to not do it growing up.

I hear and read stories about the South and Southern culture and I want to connect to it. (This post was inspired by reading "All Over but the Shoutin'" by Rick Bragg.) I want to feel like it's my heritage he or she is talking about. And I guess, somewhere higher on my family tree, it is my heritage. But it doesn't feel like it.

I feel like I'm stuck in the middle somewhere. My granddad ("Paw Paw") grew up in a small town on N.C./Virginia border. He's definitely Southern. My dad grew up in the same small town and lives Down East in Wilson. He's Southern.

Me? The Cary-ite turned Charlottean via Chapel Hill? I'm Southern ... ish.


  1. Not sure about the accent part....Madison most definitely has and Accent and I bet if you went to Jersey or Brooklyn they would not get you confused with being a Yankee!!!!! You are Southern born and bread!!!!!!!


  2. The new country song "How country feels" has Jennifer laughing at me because she says im not real country/southern either.. i concur on the -ish!

  3. OK, I bet I do have an accent compared to someone up North. But I've had people here that I talk to that are surprised I was born and raised in the South.

    Ben, it must be something about Cary. Too much Yankee influence.