We had to break away last week to get tomatoes in the ground, so we weren't able to recap our Week of Southern Humor. Trust us, it was hilarious. Among the hilarity was a visit on Wednesday from Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays, the Greenville, Miss. duo who have just published their third book, Some Day You'll Thank Me For This.
For starters, let us say that, yes, there are more than enough cutesy instructional manuals on Southern speech, behavior and ritual, but if you want a true Rosetta Stone for deciphering the conspicuous eccentricities of Southern women (in the guise of a cutesy instructional, of course), we highly recommend the work of this pair. Their books Being Dead is No Excuse (on Southern funerals) and Somebody is Going to Die if Lilly Beth Doesn't Catch That Bouquet (on Southern weddings) have created a bonafide sensation among ladies in the Delta who recognize that the customs and mores chronicled by this wise and hilarious pair come not from cultural exploitation but from a perspective of deep respect, authenticity and sharp, self-reflective wit.
Admittedly, these books play to a selective crowd, but we are always charmed by Mrs. Metcalfe and Ms. Hays when they visit. They can handle themselves in any situation, converse with anyone, and are able to tell some of the most hilarious and politely off-color stories to illustrate their point on any given subject. This genuine humor and playfully barbed civility is what makes their work so popular, and it's what always draws a crowd to hear them speak. Their readings and remarks to the crowd at Turnrow on Wednesday entertained and honored the message at the heart of their books — manners and civility, a Southern virtue that withers in the face of suburbanization, yet is loathe to die in so many pockets of the South. We observed how nearly every lady and gentleman present for the Metcalfe-Hays reading nodded in agreement at some clever truism delivered during the brief and entertaining remarks.
For anyone of this class of Southern family — and you know who you are — we recommend this book, which makes an especially appropriate Mother's Day gift (Sunday, May 10, signed copies available). It will provide great laughs and spark fond memories, no doubt. For anyone who has married into a proper Southern family, this book may serve as a useful guide to delicate social transactions, and your open-minded Yankee friend may even find some use in these pages. Anyone else won't know what the hell Metcalfe-Hays are talking about, and that's just fine.
Incidentally, the subtitle describes this book as "the Southern Ladies' Guide to Being a 'Perfect' Mother," but it might just as well say "the Delta Ladies' Guide," for it's stories and traditions are so very much embedded in this wonderfully peculiar culture, and if it's true that Southern hospitality is dying, it may not die here, in these privileged classes, until we all do.