Thursday, December 04, 2003

Southern charm

It's true: Southerners are friendly people, at least in casual encounters at shops and restaurants. Whites, African-Americans, men, women, young people, old people, everyone had a smile and a friendly greeting for Kenny.

There is of course a case to be made that the remnants of Jim Crow make the South a profoundly unfriendly place, but what I'm talking about is social lubrication of the kind of which my fellow Wisconsinites could learn to use a little more. Maybe it's the weather.

One of the few people I met who was not brimming with charm was my sister-in-law's occupational therapist. He was affable enough, but there definitely was a reserve about him. Turns out he didn't grow up in Alabama, although he repeatedly mentioned, seemingly by way of establishing authenticity, the fact that his parents are from Alabama.

But you'll never guess where he did grow up: Kenosha.

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