Friday, October 28, 2016

Get the King to Marry You.

When my wife and I were married, we joked about going to Las Vegas and getting an Elvis Impersonator to perform the ceremony.  We never really were able to carry through on that, but I recently found this new business in down town Nashville that really bears some scrutiny.

Ok, so it's a wedding chapel located in the center of downtown, in the center of The Arcade, but more than that, there's an honest to goodness Elvis Impersonator (gold rimmed glasses and all) performing the weddings. I'm not trying to advertise the business but I just find it so incredibly southern.  
It's apparently quite popular with tourists (who don't realize that Elvis is really more well known in Memphis) and though I took this picture with the intent of showing off the 'store front' I noticed that the sign holds one more oddity. "Lunch Hour Specials."  Now there's a thought.  Quick bite to eat at one of the many eateries in the downtown area, and stop by to get married. 

Then again, it might be a good idea to call first...make sure their open....

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Blanket Invitational

There is a family down the street which are the epitome of Southern.  He is rarely in a suit, wears Titans' jerseys most of the time and works in his garage - literally, he works out of his garage. At work he wears mostly grease stained camouflage. His wife wears pink camouflage and cowboy boots and their kids have such thick southern accents I'm not sure they speak English at all.  

But beneath all that they are some of the greatest people I know. They'd give you the shirts off their backs.  They are always volunteering for church dinners, city clean-up drives and school fundraisers.  They are nearly perfect.  I said nearly.  

You see, they have this policy of never 'inviting' anyone over. They just expect that if you want to see them, then you'll make the effort to drop by their place and see them.  They also seem to complain a lot about how no one ever comes to see them - especially family.  

I blame the Beverly Hillbillies.  

Yeah, that's right, the 1960s TV show "The Beverly Hillbillies."  The show ran 9 seasons here in the US and has been seen across the globe.  The story of a poor Suthun Man out hunting who discovers oil on his property is the 'rags to riches' story we'd all like to live.  There's a catchy theme song too.  (The Ballad of Jed Clampett)   The song was written and composed by Paul Henning, and sung by Jerry Scoggins, who was accompanied by bluegrass musicians Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. At the end of the show, there is an instrumental reprisal of the song and, here's the hook, at the end, Scoggins says "Y'all come back, now, Y'hear?"

This is the 'laid-back, come-on-over-anytime' attitude that everyone attributes to the South and to Southerners. "Hey, my door is always open. Just come on by any old time!" You visualize people dropping by non-stop, every night a different friend or family member, the sweet southern tea flowing and kids running wild in the yard. And in fact, it may at one time have been so.

Today, sorry, this just doesn't  work.  I know, I've dropped by my neighbor's house several times just to chat and found them not at home! (Reference above mention of church functions, school fundraisers and city clean up drives.)  In fact, anytime I want to go by and see him (outside of business hours,) I know to call first and see if he's home AND see if he's up to receiving guests.  Most often, the answer is no.

This whole "if you want to be  part of my life, you'll make the effort" is not only impossible, it's just lazy. Yes, Lazy.  You want to see people, but you don't want to go to the effort to call them and set up a time to see them. Let them play the 'are they home' game and hope to catch you.  Lazy AND disrespectful. Southerners are not that lazy or disrespectful.

This is why it's better to set a time and INVITE someone over specifically rather than just some blanket "Y'all come back, now, Y'hear?" Due to the complexity of our lives, (yes, even in the laid back south) the idea of inviting someone over for dinner, or to sit a spell and visit may seem old fashioned, but there is a deeper reasoning that needs repeating.  RESPECT.

When you go to the effort to set aside a period of time and invite someone over to visit, you show them more respect than just "Yeah, we'd love to see you, but you'll have to drive by our house and catch us at home knowing that at any time you drive by we could be at church, or the school, or grocery shopping, or some other people may be visiting or heck, we may just not be in the mood for company."  Who is going to do that 'hoping' they might catch you at home? Thanks to this, my neighbor and I rarely see each other. And people who live further away than a "let's drop by since we're in the neighborhood" are just not going to spend the time and gas to 'hope' you're home - and up for company (regardless of what your 'open door policy' says!)

Inviting someone says "We want YOU to come by and we can ALL enjoy some time together."  (The unspoken part says 'yes, we will be home, no church, or school, or shopping and yes we are in the mood for company, but not just any company, we want YOUR company.') Yes, it's also takes some work, and yes, you may need to reschedule some church or shopping trips, but if you want to see people, this is what you have to do. You don't' have to cook dinner and you don't have to have a reason other than just "We'd like to see you for a visit on this date." Respect.

My neighbor is stubborn and says  he really doesn't understand the difference (he breathes car exhaust all day.) I have to admit, however, that at my insistence, he recently called and set up an afternoon for his parents to drive across town and see the kids. Lots of smiles all round and I heard they had a mess of fried chicken his mom had made and brought along. It was a great afternoon.

But then, as the parents were leaving,  I heard him shout, "Drop by any time!"
I gotta work some more with that guy. 

I hope you'll all take the time to invite someone over soon, maybe even me.