I don’t know when I’ll officially become a true Alabamian, as I spent my first 18 years and all subsequent holidays in central Florida, but even after five years here, I still claim to have an outsider’s perspective. If you’ve ever traveled through central Florida, you may notice that the farther south one travels into the Floridian peninsula, the less “southern” the state seems, as Florida is a hodge podge of nationalities, regions and generations.
The true South, however, has won me over, and I attribute this fact to the people. And while southern women have provided a look into church-going society and down-home motherhood, all in heels and a soft southern drawl, I want to comment on the flipside of that coin: the southern man.
I grew up in Florida, but moved to Birmingham to attend college. Moving so far from home, I bought into the stereotype and consoled myself that in the case of a flat tire or other time of need, a southern man would always put on the brakes to help a woman in distress.
Since coming to work in Columbiana, I’ve experienced southern men at their finest. Whether it’s going out of their way to open a door for women of any age or inviting a young reporter to Dairy Queen before a city council meeting, I believe that these men are some of the best parts of living in the South.
Admittedly, I recently married one of the sons of the South, so call me foolish with newlywed dreams. On the other hand, I’ve traveled enough to know what a blessing it is to make eye contact and share a smile with strangers on the street, to feel safe enough to walk the streets of small-town America alone and to small talk with others in the grocery store line. While our corner of this country is far from perfect, some benefits of living in the South far outweigh the glitz and glamour offered by sparkly stranger-filled cities devoid of dear southern hospitality.
And so, in a society that longs to stamp out chivalry, I just want to send out a thank-you note to the gentlemen who still value treating women with respect and, in turn, making our county a more pleasant place to live and work.
Christine Boatwright is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 16 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.