I would like to publically apologize to my friend Rhonda. I knew not what I was doing when I introduced you to that awful, terrible habit. I never would have pressured you had I known it would affect you this way. I hope and pray it’s not too late, that you’re not addicted. Save yourself.
Stop watching Honey Boo Boo.
It started with an innocent turn of the channel. I’d heard of it, this television show featuring a curious Honey Boo Boo character. I was intrigued. The antics of a 7-year-old who likes to partake in beauty pageants and have fun with her colorful family — how bad could it be?
Bad. Oh ... so ... bad.
They pass gas on camera and talk about it. They bob for raw pig’s feet. OK, in all fairness I must confess that I once chased a greased pig at a Halloween carnival in hopes of winning $20, so I cannot be judgmental of entertainment involving swine. But I draw the line at picking up raw pig’s feet with my teeth. And I’d really have to think about cooked ones. Twenty dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to.
As I am watching Honey Boo Boo, Mama June, Sugar Bear, Chubbs, Pumpkin, and Chickadee I wonder to myself, “Where do these people live?” I wish I hadn’t asked. Georgia. Near Macon, to be precise. So close I can smell the pig’s feet.
The more I watched, the more I shook my head. And then I realized something. As Honey Boo Boo and Mama June and the rest of the clan talked, they had subtitles of what they were saying at the bottom of the screen. I could understand them. OK, so they said “smexy” a lot and “redneckinize” every now and then. Apparently, if you don’t know what “smexy” means then you’re not it. I’m not it. And I’m still not sure if “redneckinize” is a verb. Other than that it’s pretty clear what they’re saying. But apparently the folks at TLC think southern-speak is too difficult for the rest of the country to understand, so they use subtitles.
Maybe the TLC folks are related to the lady who wrote instructions on how to speak Southern on a popular how-to website. According to her, if you’d like to talk like somebody living in the South, you should do these five things:
Trade the short sound of the letter “A” to a long “A” sound. The long sound of “A” sometimes comes out sounding like a long “I” sound. People who would like a second helping might say they would “pie (pay) for another plite (plate).”
Next tackle the short “E” sound which, while remaining the same in some instances, changes to what almost sounds like one or two syllables starting with an “ay” sound. “Egg” becomes “ayugg” while “pen” becomes “payun” and “red” becomes “rayud.”
Pronounce the letter “I” followed by an “R” as if it were written “ar” in some words. For example: “That car far started in a tar.” (That car fire started in a tire.) Notice that the short sound of the letter “I” often sounds as if it has two syllables.
Leave the “R” off most words with an “or” combination and, instead, use a one to two syllable “o-uh” sound. For example: “That sto-uh is near the seasho-uh” (That store is near the seashore).
Throw in some expressions and phrases perceived to be Southern in origin. For example, if you drop a bowl of nuts, say that they went “everwhichaways” and add that you found that “aggervatin.” Here are a couple other good ones: “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay under the porch” and “I’m hungry enough to eat the south end of a north bound skunk.”
That car far started in a tar? The sto-uh? Really?
The author of said instructions is a Ms. Peggy Epstein. Her bio doesn’t say where she is from, but it does say she attended school in Missouri. I wish I knew Peggy Epstein. I’d invite her down to Georgia, maybe take her out for dinner, introduce her to some friends and family, and show her some true southern hospitality.
Then I’d take her on over to Honey Boo Boo’s house, where she could redneckinize and sit around with the smexy family, maybe bob for some pig’s feet. Maybe Mama June will even show her her forklift toe, you know, the one that got run over by a forklift when she was young.
I’d pie good money to see that. I bet Rhonda would, too.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.