Sunday, November 09, 2008

Southern-isms vs. Northern-isms

My roommate and I are both from Minnesota.

Now, why Two Rivers had to go all the way to Minnesota to find a couple of interns is beyond me - apparently there wasn't anyone intern-able in Knoxville... or anywhere closer than Minnesota. Despite being very strange, it actually works pretty well, because we share our laughs over some southern-isms and we get made fun of for the same northern-isms.

For example: Where do you keep your garbage can? In Minnesota, it's almost always, without fail, under the kitchen sink. The only exception to this is when there is a specific built-in cabinet that slides out specifically to hold a garbage can. However, here in Tennessee, you will most often find the garbage can in a closet or pantry. I can't tell you how many times I've looked for people's garbage cans under their sinks, only to be laughed at.

Ours is under our kitchen sink.

Another example: What do you call a sugary, fizzy, soft-drink? In Minnesota, it's pop. The first time I said "pop" in public, there was a general titter that went up around the table. So I asked, "Oh, I'm sorry, is it soda here?" I've heard it called "soda" elsewhere.

No. It's "coke." It doesn't matter if it's actually Coke brand, they're all "coke." You know, Sprite coke, Mountain Dew coke, Pepsi coke. That's just silly, if you ask me.

The difference in how to address people is also amusing between Tennessee and Minnesota. In Minnesota, everyone goes by their first names except teachers. I never remember calling any other adults by their last names or with a title (I barely even address relatives by "aunt" or "uncle" any more, purely out of habit - even my college professors all insisted on first-name basis). But here it's very formal. My small group still calls me "Miss Katie." And I'm one of the least formal adults they deal with on a regular basis. I can't tell you how many times I get called "Ma'am" every day... I'm not old enough to be a "Ma'am!"

At the same time, perfect strangers will refer to you as "sweetie," "darling," "honey," or "dear" quite comfortably (i.e.: waitresses). It's an interesting dichotomy.

Finally: We've discovered that Tennessee has no real winter. It's well into November, and the trees are just hitting their colorful stage. While there's snow in Minnesota, the highs have been near 75 this past week in Knoxville. There was a snap in October where it would be in the 40's in the mornings and closer to 60-ish by afternoon, but nothing to constitute "cold." By Minnesota standards, we've barely even had a couple of sweater days. (I'll post more on the lack of winter later...)

So we laugh at the people in their winter coats, stomping their feet and rubbing their hands together and exclaiming how freezing it is outside.

Apparently it's all relative - or at least latitudinal!


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