February 05, 2010
Originally published September 3, 2004
I don't like the word "swagger." It connotes arrogance and false vanity, maybe with some hubris thrown in for good measure. But I'll tell you one thing right now. Southern men tend to swagger, compared to men in other parts of the country. That's the way we walk.
That's NOT just a Texan trait, as Bush mentioned last night. ("Some people say I swagger. In Texas, we call that WALKING!") I've spent some time up north and I don't understand the hunched shoulders, the refusal to make eye-contact with a stranger on the sidewalk and that timid, LEAVE ME ALONE attitude that so many yankees display through body language.
Down South, you are EXPECTED to swagger. You're also expected to keep your word, be nice to old ladies and eat boiled peanuts. We have our traditions and we try to uphold them. Swagger is part of that tradition.
I once liked to walk into the Swamp Fox and announce my arrival with a big HELLO!!! to all the old farmers clustered around the coffee pot. I'd drag up a chair and sit down to catch up on all the gossip from Effingham County. That was the best newspaper I ever had. Those old (yeah, call them red-necks if you want to) fellows had been plowing this land since they were kids following their daddy behind a mule.
They were good story-tellers and fine people. The coffee was Southern espresso--- 30-weight motor oil, with no sugar. That stuff could stand a spoon upright and make your hair curl. You could walk in there and make yourself at home anytime.
But you needed to swagger when you came through the door.
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