Monday, September 30, 2013

The North and The South Part 3: How to Recognize a Northerner or Southerner in 5 Easy Ways

I spent the first 20 years of my life in New Jersey.  The last decade and a half have been in the Deep South.

This makes me an expert on all things above and below the Mason-Dixon line. Obviously.

If you're just joining the party, please read The North and The South first. 

Then, head over and read The North and the South: Part 2.

Now that you're caught up, it's time for the third edition!

How to Recognize a Southerner: 

1. At any given point, they are wearing, driving, or toting around something with a monogram.

Any true Southern girl has an embroidery or vinyl lettering machine.  Nothing is safe from a monogram - bedding, dishware, purses, jewelry, luggage, clothing - if it's a flat surface, you can slap your initials on it.

2. Their children are wearing something smocked.

My Northern friends may be asking, what's smocking? Let me show you.

Worn by most little girls under the age of five on a regular basis in the south. Hand-made and sold in boutique stores, it's a rite of passage for girls AND boys alike.  That's right, smocking is for everyone!

If not smocked, monogramming is also acceptable for the kids. This little guy is wearing a blue velvet monogrammed jumper. Bless his heart. 

Note to Southern mamas: If for some reason you relocate above the Mason-Dixon line, leave your son's smocked outfits behind.  Sending him to school in one of those won't go well in the North.  Just trust me on this. 

3.  Someone in their immediate family has a double first name.  

Abbreviating or nicknaming is frowned upon for the Evelyn Grace's, Mary Margaret's, and John Parker's of the South.  Yes, those names are beautiful, but you know they harbor a little bitterness toward mom and dad for giving them a ridiculously long name to write for the REST. OF. THEIR. LIFE. 

4.  They assume that every restaurant on the planet serves Sweet Tea.  

5.  Ask them if they played field hockey in P.E. class.    

They didn't. 

Ask them if they know what field hockey even is. 

They probably don't. 

How to Recognize a Northerner: 

1. Ask them if they have Rotel in their pantry.

They don't.

Real talk.  I did not even KNOW what Rotel was until I moved to the South. While Southern girls my age had been whipping up casseroles and party dips full of this tomatoey goodness since they before they could embroider their own monogram, I'd been cutting up my own bland, boring tomatoes.  I smuggle some across the Mason-Dixon line every time I visit my parents in NJ.

*UPDATE: I've heard from my Northern friends and apparently Rotel is not that foreign to them. They eat it frequently.  It has become clear that this was a personal issue with my family.  It appears that  my mother chose to serve fish sticks and lima beans to me instead of Rotel and cheese dip all those years growing up.  I am not pleased with this news.*

2.  They abbreviate your first name. 

Southerners, don't be offended if your new Northern friend shortens your double name.  It's a term of endearment and just how they were raised.  Some examples: 

"Sar" (Sarah)
"Mare" (Mary) 
"Trish" (Tricia)
"Stace" (Stacy)
 "Er" (Erica) 

In the North, people address you by the first syllable of your first name. Everything else is apparently just a waste of consonants and vowels.  

Real talk. I did not answer to my full name, "Leslie," until I moved to the South. Growing up, I was called "Le," "Les," "Le-Le," and "Lesslehead." (Please don't ask about that last one...I don't even know, people, I do NOT even know.) Moving on. 

3.  They think Pepsi and Coke are the same thing. 

4.  They are unable to name every school in the SEC.  

This may be the quickest way to tell whether someone is from the South or not. Before learning their alphabet and numbers, every southern child learns about SEC football and is forced to align themselves with a team.  

Real talk.  Folks in the North don't care a whole lot about college sports.  


So. . . A Northerner may be able to list three or four schools at the most.  

Or, when asked about the SEC, they may answer with:  "The Securities and Exchange Commission." 

5.  They think "WaWa" is a perfectly acceptable name for a convenience store. 

The name rolls off their tongue as they rave about the hoagies and coffees at this staple in the Northeast.   If they are able to say "Wawa," in a sentence without giggling, it's a sure sign you're talking to a Northerner. 

That's all for Part 3! Anything else you'd like to add? 

Would love to hear your thoughts from both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line! 


  1. We have rotel in the South! There's always a rotel chicken (spaghetti) at potlucks.

    1. I've grown to love Chicken spaghetti! Definitely a southern delicacy!

  2. Leslie- I blogged on this very subject several times while living in Kansas. I'm too lazy to look them up but here is the one I did find from 2009-

    As someone who has spent a lot of time in Bama, the DC burbs, Kansas, and spending summers in the Northeast, I think you are spot on. My first summer in Pennsylvania I did giggle every time I went to the Wawa though. Couldn't get used to that one.

    1. That post was awesome! Great minds think alike! :)

  3. I know you mentioned five and under for the smocked dresses. I'll have you know Ella still wears them at 6! Haha - love these posts! :)

    1. Suzanne, I was a little conservative on my age range...I realize smocking can head well into the elementary years...but I didn't want my Northern friends to be too overwhelmed!

  4. Hey Les! I'm curious about Rotel; I'm wondering if WaWa carries that? ;)

  5. All my northern friends make fun of our Piggly Wiggly stores. I'm gonna have to ask if they have Wawas!

    1. If they live in NJ/PA/DE area, I bet they do!

  6. I am laughing so hard right now! This is SPOT ON! At least for the Northerner part. And P.S. I have never heard of Rotel. So you are not alone :)

  7. The boys outfits sort of depend on which part of the South. In the "good ole boy" area - you would not DARE put your son in those outfits! I am from the "good ole boy" part - I have 2 sons and I DO NOT DARE! And I am Southern born and Southern bred!! I have ordered sweet tea in NY and MA - they don't know what that is. LOL!!!