Gut Rumbles

September 03, 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.


I was raised in the midwest, having lived there for 22 years and then was transplanted to the south and have been here for 20 years. Your generalizations regarding people born north of the Mason Dixon line aren't the same observations I've had. Neither are better or worse. They're all just different. I notice that you tend to portray "northerners" in a more negative light than southerners and I assure you that in general, sourtherners have their own negative traits which makes everyone in our great country pretty even.

Posted by: Susie on September 3, 2004 10:36 AM

Up here in Michigan I like to walk with a proud set to my shoulders. Sometimes while walking around town I can't get one person to make eye contact, even though I am ready with a friendly "hello." I have also been accused of walking around like I have an attitude when I am just glad to be alive. But what the hell, I live in a blue county.

Posted by: Mixlesplick on September 3, 2004 11:00 AM

Got dammit! Am I going to have to send Mr. Sherman down there again?!

Posted by: MarcL on September 3, 2004 11:10 AM

Hate to break it to you , but most big military bases are in the south. We have been converting those boys to southern thinking, That Sherman crap ain't gonna happen again.

Posted by: James Old Guy on September 3, 2004 12:27 PM

Isn't a swagger simply referred to as a 'swish' in some circles?

Posted by: jmflynny on September 3, 2004 05:17 PM
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