As you may know, Jane, the main character in Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell, finds herself stuck in Southern Belle Hell when she accidentally lands herself a spot on Bienville, Alabama’s very traditional Magnolia Court.
What’s that you say? That Jane’s a sassy, outspoken gal, and this is the twenty-first century, so why doesn’t she just quit? Oh, no, no, no, she can’t do that! Jane’s carrying a mountain of mama legacy on her shoulders, and she’s got a gorilla of grandmother guilt on her back, so she can’t opt out! It just wouldn’t be right!
And therein lies the definition of Southern Belle Hell.
See, we may all live in an iPhone/e-book world, but down South, folks will always value tradition and history, etiquette and manners. It’s part of what makes us Southern. We truly believe there are certain ways to do things, and it’s not just what would Jesus do. It’s what would your youth group leader, the cotillion director, the Historical Society, the Book Club, the president of the sorority, the head of the Junior League, Miss Manners, your mother, your grandmother, your dead great-grandmother do?
That sure is a lot of people’s opinions to be fretting about.
The gates of Southern Belle Hell yawn open whenever a gal is caught between the delicate manners of the Old South and…the trends that come with progress and the march of time. Or her own regrettable oversight. Or somebody else’s inappropriateness. A rude comment. A misunderstanding. An impossibly awkward situation. A sudden bizarre turn of events that defies the rules of polite society.
For example, have you ever…
- Served black-eyed peas for good luck on New Year’s Day using your grandmother’s china, but only had plastic spoons to eat ‘em with?
- Found out on Thursday that the event you’re attending on Saturday is semi-formal…and you don’t have a thing to wear in your closet?
- Just KNOWN you’re related to that person across the room who you haven’t seen in a month o’ Sundays, but you just CANNOT remember how, and oh no, now they’re headed this way?
- Just known you’re related to that person who just friended you on Facebook, but you CANNOT remember how, and oh no, they’re getting awfully chatty…?
- Drafted and redrafted the perfect thank-you note, then not been able to remember if you actually wrote it on the card and sent it?
- Watched your mother repeatedly offer a ham sandwich to your brother’s friend, a sweet high school student you’ve just realized is Jewish and practices kosher eating habits, which most definitely rule out ham and just about everything else in your refrigerator full of pork products?
Then you’ve been to Southern Belle Hell! And in each case, the big question is, how’s a girl to extricate herself from said hellish situation politely? And preserve her dignity? And by stepping on as few toes as possible? Good luck with that!
I suspect that we all have a Southern Belle Hell story in us. And by the way, you don’t have to be from the South, or even a Belle, to have a Southern Belle Hell story. So if you’ve got one, I’d love to hear it! Drop me a line below and let’s get talking!