Southern Blogger just celebrated a birthday and this blog has survived into its fourth week. The semi-popularity of this semi-satirical blog I attribute to my loyal readers and their efforts to re-post and promote this little island of humor about the South from a Southern perspective; that is, from one who knows it and lives it like many of you do.
Since I’m a history major and historian by trade I definitely had fun co-blogging with some of my favorite Southerners of all time. But now we will switch gears a little bit and will get into our 4×4 Delorean with KC lights and head back to the future.
During your birthday you get a bit reflective and nostalgic. As a new generation heads back to college this week, or maybe for their very first experience, I was reminded of how I became the “Southern Blogger” I am today. It’s all thanks to my alma mater Ole Miss (pre Dan Jones) .
Don’t worry we’re getting to the humor soon.
I grew up in a Southern state…Virginia. But going down to Mississippi for the first time was a whole ‘nother level of Southern. In fact the whole SEC (Southeastern Conference for those of you who are “sectionaly challenged”) is like its own country. So I’m going to reminisce and satire the SEC from the perspective of one who was an outsider who became an insider.
Hope you enjoy!
WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO?
Take a look at the kid in this picture. He’s totally lost…both physically and figuratively. When you first enter college you have lots of hope, fear, and confusion. There are forms to sign, classes to find, hoops to jump through, and people to meet. Lots of people. People pushing this cause or that club, each handing you a shiny brochure. You have no idea what to do. Well, thankfully I’m here to set the young man straight and maybe any of my gentle readers.
So this guy is wondering which he should sign up first. Should he purchase his books and get ready for class? Surely that’s the way to get ahead and make good grades. After all you wouldn’t want to wait too long and have the bookstore run out of your required texts.
What about car decals? I know he’s probably heard of the parking Nazi’s that infest college campuses. Merciless Gestapo agents of the Academia/Meter Maid Complex. Better get one of those before the grace period (which varies from five minutes to five days) runs out.
Or what’s this? A sign that says college football season tickets? Hmmm. Sounds interesting…but in high school you could see all the games for little cost and just walk up to the games (I know, not y’all in Texas…you have a head start on football craziness over the rest of us).
What should he do first? Well this ain’t Duke, Harvard, or Stanford, so forget about buying the books first. In any SEC school, I can pretty much guarantee you that those books will be sitting on the shelves through most of the semester. They won’t sell out. Well, this is where I need to put an asterisk on my comments for Vanderbilt. If you are going to Vanderbilt you need to buy your books ASAP! Vanderbilt is like the nerdy kid in our conference the rest of us cheat off of during the exam.
Parking decals? Important, but you don’t build a lifetime of memories on whether or not you got fined for illegal parking or were towed. It happens…to us all. Get the decal by all means but don’t hurry.
No son, you need to get you your season tickets. In fact within two days of your arrival! We are talking less than $10 a ticket for top notch football. Future NFL stars, storied programs, national champions, tailgating, coeds in sundresses, spilt bourbon, fight songs and fights with rivals, and the best camaraderie in any part of the country. For the next 4 to 7.5 years of your life, THIS will be your real classroom!
WHEN IN ROME DO AS THE ROMANS DO…
WHEN IN THE SEC, DO AS THE GREEKS DO
In the South being social is next to Godliness. A major part of life in the SEC is Greek life…or rather the “Greek System”. Going Greek is a big deal down in the SEC. Not everyone does it, and it’s up to you…but Greeks dominate the social, political, and school spirit scenes on campus. If you choose to forego this opportunity be forewarned….The student union gets pretty boring after awhile.
It’s funny to me what passes for a fraternity outside of the South. In fact Yankee Fraternities aren’t half as good as their Dixie cousins. That’s why they call them “Frats” up there I think. For you see, the Yankee frat, is what the media and Hollywood portray the entire fraternity world as: loud, fist pumping, Ed Hardy wearing, gel haired, rope necklaced, obnoxious “Bro-heims”. Sad really.
Now when you first get to school and you consider joining a fraternity, know that in the SEC there are some pretty high standards. Some gents have it already made. Their families are known and they grew up in the region and know the routine. Others have a little bit of a learning curve. Then there are the totally clueless.
Consider this picture. There’s certainly a uniform in the South. We all know it. It’s unspoken…but it’s a way of dressing fathers teach their sons, and young men learn going to church and social functions. By the way in the South it’s not advised to wear beach attire to church. Here we have fifteen gentlemen from fifteen states depicted going through rush. Can you identity the three that don’t have a chance down South?
It’s not a hard quiz. They only have those at Vanderbilt.
It may seem vicious and it’s not for everyone, but be prepared. If you plan to rush down in the SEC don’t look like a Cheese Head, a cast member from Jersey Shore, or Laguna Beach. Be respectful, be traditional, and don’t be too much of an idiot and you should be okay. Hey…its good practice for working in an office someday.
Sororities are their own ballgame. I don’t profess to have learned all there is to learn about them. All I can tell you is that SEC sororities are filled with future Miss America’s. (My alma mater produced three thank you very much). These women smell nice, talk real sweet, and pretty much have all of us completely under their spell whether we admit it or not.
Now from what I gather, sororities teach young women skills such as drawing in curly Q’s, putting up colorful signs, power walking, collecting promise rings, and blowing up lots of balloons…and I mean LOTS.
I kid…sort of…except for the balloons part, that’s 100% true.
Thing is, these girls also have high GPA’s, great organization skills, good manners, and eons of hours doing charity work. Smart, beautiful, dedicated…I’m sold.
It does tend to get a little weird on bid day though. Man I’ve seen these girls get so excited they run into traffic and scream gibberish uncontrollably like some sort of perfume smelling, pretty mass exorcism.
Only down side is those young ladies who for whatever reason didn’t make the cut…it’s not happy times for them.
Calling it like it is folks.
DON”T BE AN EXPERT…
THEY DON’T NEED NO OUTSIDERS TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO
As for book learning…we have it down here too. It might surprise Yankees that Southerners are pretty smart sometimes…oh like when it comes time to inventing American music, writing the nation’s best literature, leading our soldiers in war, and well…writing the Constitution.
Still…there’s a difference between being smart and a “know it all”. Nobody likes experts down here/there. Big mistake! You’re going to be in a lot of general required courses your first two years. Nobody wants to be there, including the professors. I warn you. Don’t participate…or if you must keep it to a minimum. Whatever you do DO NOT raise your hand to “impress” your professor with historical inaccuracies of a Hollywood period piece five minutes before class ends on a Thursday when your school is hosting the ESPN game of the week. You will be sorry…you will be called out…you will be cursed at…you will be threatened…and you might be killed. There are frat daddies who are minutes away from a night of debauchery and you are babbling about Viking helmets. Think about it. Again, doesn’t apply to Vanderbilt.
After two years when you are in classes with others of your major…go for it. Talk it up…but still…don’t be too much of an expert (or a leftist/vegan/Hipster/collegiate activist etc.)
After a couple of weeks on campus, a lot of what I am saying will just make sense and come naturally. You will either begin to love it, or at least adapt to it, or you will soon be packing your bags.
The only really hard part for me was the first week in the dorm. Ole Miss had sex segregated dorms, and class level segregated dorms. That’s right, I was in an all freshman all male dorm with little supervision with people away from home for the first time. I heard things and saw things and even thought I saw things that I still have nightmares about. Think the scene in “Shawshank Redemption” when the inmates chant “fresh fish…fresh fish!” and you’ll get an idea what I mean.
Just stick it out. It will get better. I ended up loving it!
Now friends, there are naysayers and doubters and politically correct folks about to poo poo all I just wrote. But I speak the truth as I know it.
I went to an SEC school and I turned out pretty smart (just don’t count my typos). I have an advanced degree and work in the cultural sector. I’m even about to be published. Yeah I like being smart and around smart people. But my college days also taught me how to be “smart” in other ways. It taught me how to be social, how to talk to ANYONE, how to dress professionally, how to tell good stories, how to laugh, how to live and die for my school with camaraderie, pride, passion… and most of all how to sit down, enjoy the finer things in life, and not be in such a dang hurry.
Yeah I’ve been around since then and seen other schools.
Yeah, I’ve seen Harvard Square.
Can’t say I’m a fan of Cambridge…
But after all…I’m an Oxford man through and through.
We’ll get back to the SEC once football gets rolling with GUIDE TO THE SEC…FOOTBALL GAME DAY.