In the spirit of my Savannah trip, I was considering what tips I might offer my dear readers on how to navigate their next visit to the South. Then I remembered that my girlfriend Kate
roots for the wrong team is a dire-hard University of Georgia fan. So I asked her to give us some advice on how to be a proper Georgia girl so we can be prepared for our next visit.
I met Kate when I moved to DC and was immediately drawn to her because her sweet attitude and chic, minimalist style. She's a southern girl who is always put together, even on the not-so-easy days her hair is fixed and her lipstick on.
Here is her advice, enjoy!
When I was 18, I moved from Chapel Hill, North Carolina to Athens, Georgia to attend the University of Georgia for college. I was thrilled at the prospect of moving to “The Deep South” (South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi…and sometimes Florida and Texas). That first fall in Georgia, I discovered that all southerners share the same belief system; college football. It really is a unifying feeling in Georgia. Come Saturday, all differences are put aside and we’re all on the same team. Game day is in every sense of the word a production, beginning as early at 6:00 AM and ending long after the sun has gone down. A good Georgia girl will dress up for a football game just as she would for church, complete with curls and heels, despite the weather forecast, which is nine times out of ten the same. Humid.
A Georgia girl will not be picky at a tailgate. She will drink beer, she will drink bourbon, and she will eat (gasp!) loads and load of fried food. She will always crave Bojangles or Chick-fil-A the morning after a long night out celebrating a UGA victory. Oh, and that bit about southern girls talking slow? Certainly true. Our words drip with syrupy sugar and charm. And while there are always exceptions, I’ve found that we’re just plain nicer down south. We smile, we say yes ma’am and yes sir, we respect our elders, our boyfriends and husbands are perfect gentleman (in front of said elders, at least), and we would never shove in front of others to get a spot on the metro car. A man, yes, a man nearly knocked me over this morning while boarding the metro. Well I never!
2. Are there any stereotypes about GA girls that aren't true?
Contrary to popular belief, not all Georgia girls go to college to get their MRS degree, move back to her hometown, and pop out three camo-wearing, big-truck-driving, turkey-hunting boys by her 25th birthday. In fact, all of my closest girlfriends moved on to find great jobs, both in the US and abroad. Additionally, we were not all in beauty pageants as children, and we gawk along with the rest of you at Toddlers in Tiaras.
3. What types of customs should a traveler to GA be aware of? For instance, in NYC you don't make eye contact or stop on the sidewalk.
Promptness is very much appreciated in the South. Be it as formal as a play or informal as an evening out with friends, do try to be on time. On that not, always thank your host in person and follow up with a hand written thank you note. We like to keep things traditional, and there is a certain warmness and gratitude conveyed in a hand written note that e-mail cannot accomplish.
4. What do you find special about GA that the unsuspecting traveler might not look for?
Georgia has an incredibly rich culture, and I found the music scene to be especially good. Just look at all the musical artists from the state; The Black Crowes, James Brown, Otis Redding, REM, The B-52’s, Drive-by Truckers, Indigo Girls, The Allman Brothers (fine Jamie, they started in Florida but spent most of their time in Georgia), and my personal favorite, Widespread Panic. In fact, my house in college was down the street from the studio where they recorded their most recent album – it was so fun to figure out whose car was whose and walk by in hopes to find the boys taking a break on the porch.
If you are planning a visit anywhere in the south, I highly, highly suggest picking up an issue of Garden & Gun magazine – It’s a wonderful publication that highlights some of the best that the south has to offer in terms of food, drink, and cultural experiences.
5. Is there a traditional GA style meal that every visitor should try?
A traditional Georgian meal would be something we call a meat and three, meaning a meat, three sides and a sweet tea or lemonade. Typically you’re choosing from fried chicken, fried catfish, brisket for your meat, and then items like collard greens, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, hoppin’ john, corn on the cob for your side. Oh, and always a buttery slice of cornbread. Or a biscuit. Or both.
6. Anything else we might need to know before our next visit?
In Georgia, dogs is not spelled “dogs”, but rather “dawgs”. It’s a UGA thing that definitely spread throughout the whole state. It’s spelled like it’s spoken with a thick southern drawl. Something that really irks me (and my boyfriend, too) is when people invite you over for a barbeque, and then proceed to serve hamburgers and hotdogs. That, my friends, is a cook-out. No dead pig? Not a barbeque. “Y’all” refers to a group of people, as does “all y’all”. You may call it redundant, but it’s stuck in our vocabulary. And since Jamie dispels such great fashion advice on this blog, I’ll wrap up with this comment: Alabama fans ruined the hounds tooth pattern for America. Google it if you don’t believe me.