on being southern

It was an innocuous comment across the fish counter of a local supermarket.

Out of the blue, the graying lady in the jaunty red hat said, ”Were you in the military?” She never even looked up as she passed from the Cajun marinated catfish fillets to the giant Mexican prawns to fill my order.

Frankly, I couldn’t come up with a legitimate association to any of my parts that would lead someone to believe that I had been a member of the armed services. I’m about as un-military looking as they come.

“No Ma’am. I’ve never been in the military. I thought about the Coast Guard and making a stab at a rescue swimmer school, but I found beer and girls much more entertaining when I finally made it to college. Needless to say they trounced the Coast Guard soundly” I said.

“But I’m quite curious. What made you think I was military?” I continued.

“Because you say yes Ma’am and no Ma’am with such consistency,” she stated plainly.

I paused and chuckled as an image of my beautiful sainted Mother popped into my head.

“I’m sure my Mama would be proud that you took her for a Marine D.I.,” I said smiling. “It was the same type of training to teach Southern kids proper manners, just substitute the push ups with ass whuppings.”

She laughed out loud and slapped the chrome countertop with her free hand. She pushed the butcher paper bundle across the counter top, backing it up with a smile as big as the sun.

I flashed her a quick wink, wished her a wonderful day, and started down the canned vegetable isle, making sure I said, “Good morning, Ma’am,” to the very next lady who crossed my path.


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