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Learn ta Talk Right!

by Alan Benson

A long, long time ago, back in the year 2000, Americans everywhere — but especially in America — received a little form. That form was the census, the divinely inspired engine of our democracy that tells us which states get to be visited by presidential candidates and showered in pork-barrel spending, and which get to have the names of their capital cities be answers on the high-money section of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

By filling out this form, we were able to shout loudly to some computer in the bowels of some Census Bureau regional office "yes I exist! God yes, I exist! And I have 2.5 kids and rent! Hear me now, I live!" To which the computer replied: 1011110101110000010110101101000100101010010101, which means "thanks. We'll be sure not to send someone by your house."

Anyway, late last month, in the waning excitement of the best damn Boxing Day in recent memory, the Census Bureau finally released the results of all this tabulating, shouting, and 1s and 0s. America is now the proud owner of 281,421,906 people, 33,399,123 more than ten years ago. And, for the first time, the bulk of that growth has been in the Southeast and West.

This is, of course, no surprise to Southerners, who for years now have been greeting newcomers with smiles and "welcome y'all, we love to have ya, make yerselves comfortable rah cheer" then turning and bitching to one another about "pushy Northerners," their inexplicable reliance on turn signals, and their inability to talk as good as me 'n' Bo 'n' t'other fellers. C'eptin' maybe Cletus, but dang, y'all know he ain't been so smart since that mule done popped him in the head a year back.

Though we now live in L.A., the Van Gogh-Goghs are all proud sons of the great lands south of the Mason-Dixon, east of the mighty Mississip, north of the Florida border (hey Spain, want it back?), west of the great blue Atlantic, north west of Bermuda, southeast of Ohio, southwest of... well, you get the picture. And we feel it's our duty to help all you displaced Yankees learn to speak like real good ole Southern boys and/or girls.

First off, don't try to cop a Southern accent. That's just annoying and you're not gonna fool anybody. And for God's sake, don't say "youse all." No, the real way to sound Southern is what you say, not how you say it. You need to learn how to describe things in more imaginitive ways. You aren't "stressed out," you're "as worried as a long-tail cat in a room fulla rockin' chairs." You're not "hurrying," you're going "faster 'n a barefoot jackrabbit on a greasy griddle."

The true Southerner picks up these baroque terms as a child, wincing in your Sunday best, whiling away hot summer hours listening to elderly relatives talk about who died. You're just going to have to make do with the Southern Term-U-Lator 9000, the Van Gogh-Goghs' super-duper Southernism construction kit. Just click the Let's hear it button to begin.

Now that you've got the terms, the rest is gravy. Start peppering your speech with some of these, and soon enough the neighbors'll be offering you collards and asking you about your favorite Andy Griffith episodes.

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