Damn Yankees!

From somewhere behind us, a golf ball came sailing past as we waited for the green ahead of us to clear. We were on a part of the golf course where you always need to ride up and take a look before hitting your next shot.

“What the hell are you doing?” Pete bellowed to the offending golfer as he approached.

“Sorry, I thought you had moved on,” he responded.

That wasn’t the way Pete saw it. “No, you didn’t! You’ve been pushing us all afternoon. Can you not see that we are waiting on golfers ahead of us?”

The older gentleman who hit into us was playing alone and indeed seemed to want us to let him through, but there was simply no place for him to go. Several holes earlier, he had pulled up to us while we were teeing off, something most golfers do not appreciate. Pete had warned me that if it happened again, he was going to ask the guy to leave.

I suggested to Pete that if it happened again, he should let me handle it. He knew why. He knows he’s a bit ‘direct’ in such situations.

This is not a story about golf. It’s a story about Yankees.

It’s about people who have migrated to the South, yet retained their northern mannerisms: curt, terse, blunt. Because Pete knows he’s a little of all that, he laughed when I tried to call him off. He knew I would handle it more passively.

So why didn’t he let me? Because he’s a Yankee!

Southerners, in general, like to avoid conflict. Sure, you’ve got your factions of fighters, like drunken rednecks. But even they tend to soften up when they sober up.

Northerners, by contrast, almost seem to enjoy being combative. It’s like their way of life is to snipe at one another.

If you are born and raised in the South, identifying someone from this country’s unloved-by-God regions is simple. Just a few words from their mouth, and you’re thinking, ‘you ain’t from around here.’

And manners? Fuhgeddaboudit!

As an example, another golf story (my group has a lot of migrants). Chuck hits an exceptionally good tee shot. “Great shot!” I shout to him. He says nothing as he reaches down for his tee, so I follow-up with some gentle instructions.

“Chuck, this is the South. When someone compliments you, you say ‘thank you.’”

Chuck responded, “Why should I have to thank you for stating the obvious?”

I took out my 9-iron with the intent on teaching Tiger Woods yet another lesson but was held back by others in the group.

The word we’re missing here is ‘genteel.’ It’s a general term for being polite, respectful, graceful, refined.

Know any genteel Yankees?

It’s all about your upbringing. Just as a Southerner can thank his or her mama for raisin’ them properly - with manners, Yankees can blame their mamas for raising them to be social misfits in any place south of Virginia.

That attitude would probably lead some to think us’ns in the South are a clique, but I would argue that we are in fact different, that our interaction with others is handled in a gentler, more respectful way.

I do think Chuck learned a lesson that day: that disrespecting someone who is being nice to you can cause you to have a flat tire. Or two.

Being raised in the north almost seems to somehow corrupt the mind. It’s like they were never taught to play nice. And that never leaves them, no matter how long they live in the South. It’s ingrained.

I have a friend who has lived in Georgia for well over fifty years. He claims that after that length of time, he should no longer be considered a Yankee. Spend five minutes with him, though, and… ‘he ain’t from ‘round here.’

Wesley Snipes’ character in “White Men Can’t Jump” pretty much nailed it: "You can put a cat in an oven, but that don't make it a biscuit."

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