Living in the Warner Robins area all of my life, I've had the privilege of growing up southern.
My husband John on the other hand really doesn't have any roots, per se. When he was younger, his father was in the United States Army and they moved to different states or countries every three years. When John graduated from high school, he joined the United States Air Force and began a life of more moving around.
When I met John in 2005 while he was stationed at Robins Air Force Base, he had never lived anywhere longer than four years. I couldn't imagine not having roots since mine are so connected right here. Then John and I fell in love and got married and he started putting down roots here in Houston County with me. He has now been here for seven years; the longest he's ever lived anywhere in his life.
Since we met, I've had to teach him a few things about being southern. I figured that one of the best ways for him to learn how to act southern was by him watching my favorite television program, The Andy Griffith Show. But the first time he watched it with me, I became downright offended when he started poking fun of Andy. Messing with Andy and Barney is like messing with my family. It was a true wonder that we actually made it to the altar after that.
Then it was time to introduce him to southern food. Unfortunately the best southern cook I know was my mom and she had passed away the year before I met John. I don't cook southern because I refuse to cook with all of the things that make southern food taste so good but unhealthy for you and therefore I can't make it taste right without those ingredients. So I took him to Ole Times Country Buffet.
In the buffet line, it wasn't hard for another person to notice right off that John wasn't from around these parts. As he was fixing his plate, he'd ask "What is this green stuff that looks like grass?" I looked at him and thought, "Good Lord man, you're not in some foreign country. How do you not know what turnip greens are?" I just shook my head. Next, we came to butterbeans. He bypassed them. I asked, "Do you not want any butterbeans?" He answered, "I don't like butterbeans." "What?", I thought. How can anyone not like butterbeans? I mean that's totally un-American. Hasn't he ever heard of the slogan "Baseball, apple pie and butterbeans"?
Grits and oatmeal was something also new for him. Instead of cooking grits my traditional way with water in which he didn't like, I substituted milk in place of the water which makes them nice and creamy. Now he eats grits but only my grits. And in preparing our oatmeal, it is like eating a fattening dessert instead of a healthy breakfast now . I fix it with brown sugar, cinnamon, milk and butter. Now he eats oatmeal but only my oatmeal.
He's come to enjoy watching Andy Griffith with me and knows what not to say about it anymore. He even records it for me on the DVR. And when we go to Ole Times, he no longer asks , "What's this?"
John's finally got him some roots put down right here in Houston County and learning what it's like to grow up southern but he's still trying to figure out what a yam is.
Donna Hunter Glenn is a weekly columnist for the Houston Home Journal and Warner Robins Times Newspapers and is the principal decorator and owner of Addressing Rooms Interior Decorating and Home Staging in Warner Robins, GA.