Posts Tagged ‘Southern’

It’s good to have friends who help you maintain a positive attitude and healthy habits. It’s also good to have friends who urge you to make questionable choices every once in a while.

When I emailed a photo of a surprising food find — Little Debbie Banana Pudding Rolls — to a former colleague earlier this week, he responded immediately:  “My professional advice to you is to buy two boxes of them right now. Why two? Because you’ll eat one box on the way home from the store.”

How could a girl resist?

I grew up eating Little Debbie products at my grandparent’s house in South Mississippi — my brother and I could always find a box of the treats on top of the refrigerator. I am the Forrest Gump of Little Debbie products, with a readily accessible running list of the different varieties taking up valuable space inside my brain. Ask me about nearly any of the company’s products, and I can run down a quick review for you. Here are just a few that popped into my head this very minute:

Devil Squares: Their substantial filling and sort of weirdly textured chocolate coating combine for a unique and delicious culinary experience that made me, as a child, feel slightly more sophisticated than my tomboyish habits generally merited. (more…)

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Pity the do-it-yourself mattress haulers of Alabama. Tasked with toting an unruly bed across town, armed with only a station wagon or minivan and cheap rope, they bravely soldier on, carrying out their duty with a degree of ineptitude and inadvisability usually exhibited by sugar-stoked, undersupervised 7-year-old boys with bottle rockets and short attention spans.

I can’t go two weeks without seeing a mattress on the side of the road, liberated by wind and poor rope skills, whether I’m driving within city limits or on county roads.

These mattresses are always used. You can tell by the – well, you can tell by the stains on them. I’m assuming they’re being moved from house to house, from apartment to apartment. Because who in their right mind would buy a used mattress? I mean, other than the dozens of people who, in the mid-1990s, purchased used (mightily used, some would say) mattresses from the Gone With the Wind Hotel in Mobile, Ala., a hotel located in a colorful part of town (a colorful part of town that I lived in, BTW).

The Gone With the Wind Hotel’s going-out-of-business sale meant that for several weeks, Dauphin Island Parkway was strewn with used, stained beyond stained mattresses, a graveyard of comfort coils and bad planning. Apparently the price was so good that people didn’t even care when the mattresses blew off of their vehicles; either they turned back around and tied another one on, or just motored on back home a few dollars lighter and, frankly, probably not that much wiser. They were buying used mattresses from a discount hotel on the side of the interstate, after all.

What exactly is the psychology behind attempting to tie a relatively heavy, incredibly floppy item to the top of one’s vehicle? What is the owner of a pickup truck thinking when he balances a large mattress across the top of a medium truck bed and leaves stability to chance, rather than proper tie-downs? Is this a Southern thing, or do people all over feel compelled to stack one of their most personal and useful possessions atop their ride, a la The Beverly Hillbillies? Why is it so much funnier to see a mattress sagging over the roof of a minivan than it is to spot one on an SUV?

The questions, they never end. Me following a vehicle going more than 25 mph with a mattress tied on top does end, however, even if I have to take the long way home.

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During my most recent CSA adventure, I made stuffed eight-ball squash. Don’t tell the generations of ancestors before me who were Southern farmers, but I still just don’t like squash.

I did like the seeds, however, roasted at 350 degrees with a little olive oil and salt. They were crunchy and delicious, plus they looked awfully nice in my favorite green bowls.

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The green tomatoes from my weekly CSA delivery almost redeemed themselves in what I thought would be a snazzy salsa recipe, but no. Can somebody please explain the South’s obsession with these things?

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I don’t know why flagrantly bad customer service still shocks me, but it does.

I’ve been trying to join a gym this week. When my husband accepted his great new job a couple of weeks ago, I lost access to his uncrowded, well-appointed company gym. My inner cheerleader was all, “Yay, dynamic career move,” while my inner weightlifter was all, “Crap, now I’ll have to wait for bench time again.” 

I qualify for a significant discount at this gym, which I’ll call Party A. I’ve been a member there before, so no worries, right? 

Worries. Oh yes, worries.

Clerks who don’t want to explain, just process paperwork, even if it’s wrong. Managers who ignore polite e-mails. Clerks who do explain things, but only to inform me that they work for Party B, a contractor for Party A, and therefore can’t really help me. Clerks who insist that both clients (me and the husband) fill out our paperwork at the same time because they might lose it before he returns to complete his part of it.

Essentially, this gym is doing its best to avoid accepting hundreds of dollars a year from me.

I’ve been nice. I’ve been beyond nice. If anybody deserves good customer service for being polite and helpful, it’s me. A combination of Southern manners and unspoken inner apology for actually using the services of customer service personnel (I know, issues) means I’m on my best behavior. I’m the most awesome customer you ever want to cause problems for.

Yesterday, after having had no gym access for more than a week, I gave in and stopped by my neighborhood gym, which is run by the homeowner’s association.

The last time I was there, it was a small, humid little room stuffed with a couple of weird weight machines, a few dumbbells, a stairstepper and two stationary bicycles. It was frequented by a few guys attempting to lift weights on a laughably small mat, and a bunch of retirees pedaling in place while watching Oprah reruns.

It’s since been renovated. It still contains the weird weight machines and a few dumbbells, but the association has tripled the space and added more cardio equipment. It’s much less humid, though there seems to be an inordinate number of roach motels lining the walls, a condition that I choose to ignore for now.  

It is, appropriately enough, entirely adequate for my gym needs.

I guess I should thank Parties A and B for their complete ineptitude and disregard for minimal customer appreciation, since their neglect led me to find a useful resource that is a mere half mile from my home, not to even mention the money they’re saving me every month.

Still, chasing customers away and playing the “I’m just a contractor” card is really bad long-term strategy. Eventually, those lost and angry clients will add up.

In the meantime, though, I’ve got a whole season’s worth of Oprah reruns to watch with Betty, provided I can get Carl to turn off Fox News.

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I almost fainted one night this week after bending my injured elbow. According to my husband, Bill, aka Mr. Science, bending it may have released some toxins that had been stored up, toxins that went coursing through my bloodstream with malicious intent. It certainly wasn’t the blood-and-guts factor, or I would have passed out while bleeding on fancy towels.

Whatever the reason, as the gray cloud crept in from the outskirts of my vision and I slowly and safely dropped to the bathroom floor, I realized the depths of my Southern upbringing. All I could think of was the saying, “I think I’m getting a case of the vapors,” a most hilarious sentiment, and one that would have had me giggling on the floor had the crippling nausea not overtaken me.

I was fine a few minutes later, thanks to patience and a few sips of Coca-Cola. The dizziness retreated, and my Seinfeld-like eight-year record of not throwing up remains intact.

My inner Southern belle is relieved.

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