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Yes, I’m a Southern boy!

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Well, I’m a southerner born and raised in the south, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

Now let me tell you why: Naturally, living with other southerners is on top of my list, and it’s easy to see why being surrounded by other like-kind folks is so positive. It’s because, within every southerner, there is a streak of open hospitality that is just a natural part of our being. I know saying ‘southern hospitality’ is trite, but it’s true, and there are thousands of examples to prove my point. A wave from a pickup truck driver on a back road to a young girl holding a door open for an elderly man, exemplifies the best part of a southerner’s character. Yes, it’s really who we are, and it’s a big piece of why living in the south is so pleasant, and of course, the best looking women in the country live in the south.

Now, I know that’s going to rub a few transplanted Yankees the wrong way, but let’s just be honest: Name a New England State that can match Arkansas, Mississippi or Texas in the number of Miss Americas. Well, not only are Southern gals gorgeous, but by living in the South their conversations can vary from former country girls talking about struggling to get by when they were young to dining out in New York City. I went to several Christmas parties, and one of the best was sitting around a table for five with four neat southern women. The conversations ranged from tequila stories to working on a Bradley County tomato farm, and it was a delightful evening.

Yes, I know just being from the south can throw a predisposition from a snooty New York waiter, if you’re in dining at a Le Restaurant, but I smile when I think about ordering escargots, and I know while I can dine with the best of them in New York City, they would be lost in what to order from the menu at the Superior Grill in Shreveport. Bill Clinton had to overcome that during his first term in office, and yes, that attitude does gives us southerners something of a chip on our shoulders.

We southerners aren’t perfect, but I’d rather live with our shortcomings in a trade for just living with other southerners. I know we pay the University football coach several times of what we pay the University President, but University Presidents are a dime a dozen, and a football coach who can win six or more SEC games is probably worth several million more than the President.

At least that’s what we’re saying when the morons in Northwest Arkansas negotiate football coach contracts, and when southerners vote for Trump it’s because we don’t mind the lying or voting against our economic interest, it’s southerners are telling New York, California and the rest the World to “Go to hell,” and that, whether you are a Southern Democrat or a Republican, rings a deep-seated bell in every southerner, whose grandmother or great grandmother raised you with a southern chip on your shoulder.

I think southerners live a more varied and fuller life because we live in the south. Just to give you an example, we had some New York friends over for dinner one night and the conversation turned to guns, and he asked, “Do you have any guns?” To ask an Arkansawyer if he or she owns guns is like asking a fish if it swims. Of course, I said “Yes.” He asked, “Really, how many?” And then before I could answer, he said, “Did you just buy your gun” I answered, “No, my dad bought me my first gun, a Mossberg .20 gauge when I was 8, and later a Sweet .16, and of course I have a couple of .22s” …

Well, I stopped before I got to the pistols because he was looking at me like you might react to someone in an Arab headdress carrying a violin case getting on an airplane. Yes, living in the semi-rural south — And every town under 50,000 is semi-rural — opens up an opportunity to drive 30 minutes to a river or lake to fish, and most southerners can walk to a wooded area to hunt. It’s a southern bonus we take for granted, and southern forests are the greatest expanse of trees in the country. Wow, our trees sure add to our quality of life.

Now let’s talk about the weather, and yes the south is sometimes so hot and humid that you think you’re living in a sauna, but the good Lord gave us the ability to sweat, and I’d rather sweat a bucket full than freeze my ass off in North Dakota, or this year anywhere north of Fayetteville. Yes, we do have a little rough weather occasionally, but I’ll take an occasional tornado over earthquakes and wildfires. Heck, I like to be surprised by the weather, and southern weather keeps you from being bored. My best thoughts around southern weather revolve around a beautiful, southern spring after a cold winter where the temperature dipped down below 30 for a few nights.

Yep, living in the South is just about as good as it gets, and I’m not leaving anytime soon.

Richard H. Mason of El Dorado is a syndicated columnist and author and former president of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation and the state Pollution Control & Ecology Commission. He may be reached by email at richard@gibraltarenergy.com.

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