Thursday, June 28, 2007

(Lack of) Southern Charm

I watched as they piled out of a car. Four guys and two young women. Another guy was let out of the hatchback because there were too many of them for him to have a seat in the vehicle. They walked towards the restaurant where I was eating with my family, including my in-laws. Several of the young men had on shirts with the insignia of my father and brother's alma mater. One even wore orange shorts.

After my kids finished eating I took them back out to the front area to "play" video games. I just let them sit in front of the screens and pretend. The group of seven I saw in the parking lot were waiting for a table so I asked one of them if they attended The University.

"No." was the reply. "We live near there. We're still in high school."

Now my mental wheels start turning in total, complete panic. These children appear to be staying alone in a vacation town. These children include a combination of five males and two females. TWO FEMALES!! Does this strike anyone as particularly troublesome?

So, playing it cool I start another tact.

"Oh, my dad went to [name] County High School" which happens to be the large high school in that part of the state (or Commonwealth).

They all look at each other. "That's where we go." says one guy lounging on the bench.

"Is that big black and white photo of the football team still over the door of the gym?" I ask. Some eyebrows raise and a few nod yes, looking at each other. My lack of a southern accent does not make sense as I describe the inside of their high school. "My dad is one of the guys holding the football in the front row. He was co-captain of that team."

The team that one some type of championship (forgive me dad for not remembering the exact one) that merits the photo to still hang prominently 50 years after they won it.

No one said a word. Not even "oh". They sat there and stared at me as if I grew 54 heads.

With that I turned and whispered to my kids, did you see how rude they were? They couldn't carry on a conversation! They didn't say yes with a proper s at the end, didn't say ma'am, couldn't acknowledge your grandfather went to their high school!

So we've got rude children staying alone in a beach house. Good job parents. The southern charm and manners were just oozing that evening. You must be sooooo proud.

** Technical note: we're experiencing computer problems here at chez SMID. Basically the computer decides to shut down after 15-20 minutes of activity and needs to nap for 20-30 minutes before it will graciously wake up again. That and my kids broke the period button forcing me to use a pen to tap the round silver pad any time I want to end a sentence with something other than a question mark or exclamation point.

This means I'll be scarce (again). Please accept my apologies now. I'll visit when I can.**


Jenn in Holland said...

I am really big on the manners thing with my kids. Ma'am and sir are important additions to any sentence if you ask me. And I hope they can carry a decent conversation without being rude. I would be mortified if someone ran into my kids somewhere and had this kind of thing to say about them. Yikes.
And in the south no less, where charm is supposed to be second nature. In the genetics, even.

What is happening to our youth?

Sorry to hear about the computer malfunctions. Hope it gets ironed out soon. Silly machine.

CableGirl said...

I have to agree with you here. How difficult is it really to be polite and pleasant to a person for the whole 5 minutes of conversation you will be sharing? I have no problem with kids speaking in the vernacular of their age (read: 'yeah' and whatever other slang of the moment pertains) but how difficult is it really to say 'please' and 'thank you' or even 'sir' or 'ma'am'. I was hardly the poster child for good manners when I was young, but I, at least, knew how to respect my elders.

Good luck on the computer surgery. Hope it's fixed soon.

Brillig said...

Yikes! Manners were a HUGE deal with my parents, but I remember going places with friends and being so embarrassed that they had no idea how to conduct themselves. Those people are now having kids, and what are the kids' chances of knowing basic laws of being polite? It's a dying art, for sure.

Flower Child said...

Sadly, I'm not so surprised. Depending on how far south this place is they've become more and more northerners. Not to excuse the behavior. You can have a northern background and still have southern charm - as evidenced by my husband who's a combination of the two and is constantly offering up our seats to or carrying luggage for "this gentleman or lady" whom he addresses as sir or ma'am.