Character Study: Privé, Southern Style

The girl was born and raised in The South, yet knew nothing much of it as her attention was always focused on something else. The girl had heard of a great war that had once been fought over some issue…what was it? Oh, yes. Slavery. During a field trip in 5th Grade, she had even seen something called the Cyclorama that presented one battle in that war in all it’s famous gore. The girl could not take it all in and wanted out, away, away, away!

The war’s name?

That would be…The Civil War?

Wrong! It was the War of Northern Aggression. Where did you say you were from, girl? 

And the girl would simply stare at the questioner until finally the questioner would wither and leave.

The girl was not staring in an unfriendly way, though she would come to find out that her face naturally fell into Tough School Marm and everybody withers under that. No, the girl simply was attempting to process the phrase “War of Northern Aggression.” What did it mean? Who was the North? Why were they aggressive? What did that have to do with the Cyclorama located at Grant Park next to the Atlanta Zoo?

The girl grew up and not until her fifties would she finally learn about that war. Not that the information had not been available all along. She just didn’t care to find out because she had other things to do.

In any case, she had always felt herself no greater or lesser than, that is to say she was equal, to anybody else who lived in The South. Though she never expected to live in a mansion by the river or own hundreds of acres so her sons could have the pleasure of releasing hounds to rustle up birds to shoot at, she knew lots of rich-ish people and not-so-rich people and those who claimed they were poor but had a hidden pile bigger than God’s.

So it came as a bit of a shock to her when, invited to attend a fundraiser that helps the homeless, she experienced the first bite of overt snobbery.

Excited she was there to support the cause, her friend, the host of the swanky event, was making the rounds with her, smoothly introducing her with Meet my dear friend.

Nobody wanted to shake her hand, but they couldn’t think of a way to get out of it until one man showed them the way. Clearly, overtly, and slowly he eyed her outstretched hand, looked her up and down, wrinkled his nose against the stench of  uppity white trailer trash crashing the party of the caring, crossed his arms against his chest, took a step back, and turned his head to the host as if to say You are wanting me to donate to your cause and you invite…one of those people?

But the man felt an invisible pull and his eyes turned back to her where he saw the girl, now the woman, give the man the same Tough School Marm stare that only DNA can produce. The stare that said You’ve got something to hide, don’t you? Better wipe the dog doo from your shoe before you step near me again, you little poser, though poser of what she left up to him to determine. The stare that makes people wither under its frank honesty. The man shrunk against it and beat a hasty retreat with his equally shrunken girlfriend. Or sister? Or cousin?

In any case, something oozed from the girl that let this crowd know she was not, would never be, could never be One of Them.

The girl left the event so she could get out onto the street and breath the fresh air of the exhaust fumes from the street and think about this new experience.