daniel boone

I was killing time the other day in my office looking through human interest websites (because I’m human, and I was, you know, interested), when I found an article called “25 Things Every Man Should Know How To Do,” or something like that. I forgot the exact wording because I didn’t bookmark the article, and I didn’t bookmark the article because it confused me. And it confused me because, at first, I thought the article was a joke. The entire list of 25 important manly things didn’t include a single thing that I didn’t already know how to do. And what was more important, the list was so basic and obvious, that pretty much every person I know also knows how to do everything on the list – including a lot of women I know, too.

It was almost like reading an article describing how important it is to breathe air if you want to stay alive. Duh. The list included things like changing a tire, changing the engine oil in a car, building a fire, reciting the military phonetic alphabet, fixing a toilet, chopping down a tree, reading an electric meter, jumpstarting a car, etc. Seriously? Who doesn’t know how to do all that? I even know a doggone hairdresser that knows how to do all those things. And then it hit me. Yankees. Yankee men are the ones who can’t do this stuff. I mean, for all their enlightened nosiness into other people’s business, they really don’t know much about anything that really counts. Or, as my daddy would have said, “Yankees ain’t got no sense, y’all.” I’m not even sure how Yankee men are even able to reproduce, because what woman would be attracted to any man who couldn’t do all those things? Well, a Yankee woman, I guess. The only thing I can figure is that Yankee women must be swooned by socks with sandals.

So, the result of all that is my creation of a separate (and much more advanced list) of 10 Things Every Southern Man Should Be Able To Do.

#1 – Tan without burning. Face it. A lot of us have Celtic blood and that phosphorescent Irish skin to go with it, so sunburning is a valid threat. However, a good Southern man learns early in childhood that sunburns seem to occur only when you stop moving. If you sit or stand still under a Southern summer sun, you’ll fry right on the spot. That’s why you don’t see Southern men lying down on the beach to get a tan (unless they’re drunk and passed out, in which case they deserve the sunburn). Southern men get tanned by actually working outside (cutting the grass, washing the car, playing with the dog, etc.). Or, if they find themselves at the beach, they tan by walking down the beach or tossing a football.

#2 – Grow tomatoes. It’s required. You can’t call yourself a Southern man until you can grow tomatoes. And in the process, you have to become an expert on blossom rot, leaf fungus, cutworms, Sevin, Miracle-Gro, sunscald, skin cracking, etc. And most importantly, you’re obligated to pass along that expertise to every other single person you meet that also grows tomatoes. That’s required, too.

#3. Tolerate old people behind the wheel of a car. No matter how bad that driver is in front of you, you may not utter a single curse word as soon as you get close enough to realize it’s an old person. At that point, you’re required to smile, say “bless her heart,” and go on about your day.

#4. Open and hold doors for women. Because if you don’t, your daddy will be very disappointed in you. And if it’s a Yankee woman who looks distressed over your gesture of good manners, then you can always let go of the door just a wee bit too soon.

#5. Rip out a good Rebel Yell at the right moment. No further explanation is required.

#6. Make the proper “yuck face” when someone suggests you watch a game of soccer. Soccer is a Yankee conspiracy perpetuated to emasculate the Southern superiority in the three major college sports – football, basketball, and baseball. Amen.

#7. Load, fire, and clean a weapon safely. Since Yankees get the willies at the mention of the word “gun,” then it’s up to us to know how to handle them. The guns, I mean. Not the Yankees. Well…

#8. Know how to tell a story. This is not in reference to being a liar, but in properly executing the difference between relating simple facts and telling a good story. Anything that begins with “Y’all ain’t gonna believe this,” or “Look a-hyeah,” is bound to be good.

#9. Choose a parking place. When faced with three empty parking places, a Yankee will park in the first available spot closest to the next car, thereby infringing on the personal space of that car. It may be efficient to choose the next available space, but it’s kind of rude, too. A Southerner will go for the spot in the middle every single time, and for two reasons. One, it leaves an empty space between you and the cars on either side, so everybody wins. Two, the wheelbase on your pickup truck is probably too long to maneuver properly without some space on either side.

#10. Bow your head without getting offended. At any Southern public gathering, you can easily spot the Yankees by the ones who are outraged when the speaker says, “Before we begin, let’s all bow our heads.” From their way of thinking, it’s intolerant to force people to pray in public. From our way of thinking, it’s incredibly tolerant for a Baptist to willingly bow his head at the request of a Methodist.

Tom Daniel

Tom Daniel holds a Ph.D in Music Education from Auburn University. He is a husband, father of four cats and a dog, and a college band director who lives back in the woods of Alabama with a cotton field right outside his bedroom window. His grandfather once told him he was "Scotch-Irish," and Tom has been trying to live up to those lofty Southern standards ever since.

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