I have really loved being down here in Alabama. I am most certainly in the South, internet! How do I know? Oh, so many things I have missed.... The food is amazing. Went to a lunch buffet one day, and they had fried catfish and chicken livers and black-eyed peas and fried okra - yum! Then we went to a diner another night, and I had shepard's pie, and they brought it out with a side of a grilled cheese sandwich. Only in the south, my dears. And the sweet tea - oh, the sweet tea. They had it at the cafeteria for lunch at one of the schools, and I went back for so many refills that I nearly had to slosh my way back to the room for the afternoon's presentations. They don't make it correctly in the northeast, I am quite certain. I ordered it again with my pulled pork BBQ sandwich tonight, and I swear if I could smuggle that whole meal back through the airport I would seriously consider making room in some bodily cavity.
And I love the people here. My southern accent from college has been becoming stronger every day, and even the "ya'll" slipped in to something I said yesterday - yikes! Thought that one was gone for good... I have never met kinder people than in the south; it puts the fast-paced, in-your-face city culture to shame. Everyone is so appreciative, and goes out of their way to make myself and my partner comfortable. I am always addressed as "ma'am" by the students, and thanked on my way out for the day. I mentioned to my host that I was looking forward to a cherry limeade from Sonic here, and she immediately insisted we take a Sonic gift card she had.
This was good, because it allowed me to introduce my partner to the wonder that is Sonic. She didn't realize it was a drive-in. In fact, she had never been to a drive-in and had no idea how one worked. "So, they come out to your car? How do they know when you are ready to order?" Oh honey, let me educate you! She said as we were leaving, "Oh now the Sonic TV ads finally make sense! I never understood why those people were always in their car!"
And you know that CNN story about the pilot who sent his plane to crash in Florida while he bailed out in Alabama? That was right where we are. Our helpful host pointed out the Kangaroo gas station where he stopped, and the tiny little motel he stayed in. The motel, by the way, looked like a place where you might get shanked. You pay by the hour for your room, it said on the sign.
And the final touch on my reconnection with the south this trip? Driving by the proudly flying Confederate flag.