Hrmm… that’s an interesting question and was posed by the Only In Your State site; 13 Things You Have To Do Before You’re An Official Mississippian. Well, I’m curious. Let’s see if I’m a real Mississippian. If you’re unaware, this is the state I was born and raised and still reside in. Same city, in fact. But, well, I don’t seem to fit in sometimes (I mean who does though?), but I’m always curious about these types of things.
01. Mastering the art of avoiding whatever animal runs out in front of your vehicle.
I’m actually pretty good with this one, though I have had a few mishaps. There are people I know, because they drive so wrecklessly, that they are forever hitting animals and don’t really care, except for the damage it does to their car. I am not one of these people.
I’m a really great driver and while I’ve had a slight bump with another car on occassion, really I am a magician at avoiding other wreckless drivers. Even The Sister is amazed at how I manuever, safely but quickly, out of the way and keep driving, like I’m a professional driver in films or something. Apparently I have Jedi Powers? The same is true for animals. I am never careening out of control anyways, but I’m always mindful or other drivers, crazy kids running out into roads, or animals.
However, there have been three incidences and they all made me sob. I’m not even joking, I actually sobbed, they were terrible incidences. One was a squirrel. I’m always good with squirrels, knowing how squirrely they are that they go to and fro in the road, but even though I had slowed down considerably, it wasn’t enough and we were out of sinc and went the same way.
Another time it was a little bird. He was bathing in a puddle on the side of the road. I slowed down for him and moved over, as there was no traffic coming, but he flew in front of my tire before I knew what had happened.
The last time was with a baby deer. The Sister and I were out the middle of nowhere Alabama and it was dark. I had my brights on but we were going down a hill with a curve, when I rounded it there were several deer running across the road. I wasn’t even going the speed limit of 55, since I was unfamiliar with the territory and was driving 45. I had to break and slow and everything was fine. And then there was a youngling who was lagging behind and burst on to the road… and it was all completely unexpected. He was weaving and swerving along the road because he didn’t know what this monster was, I still was going too fast to stop, but almost was and, like the squirrel, we timed it wrong. I should have zigged when he zagged, but didn’t and I hit him. We did not get out to check on him. Mainly because we were too upset, but also if it was really bad, the merciful thing to do would be to kill him and we had nothing to do that with, so we left. It’s something that still haunts me. I just say to myself that I hope he was OK. It happens a lot that deer are fine, especially when one is going 5 – 7 MPH by that point. And he wasn’t a baby baby, he was small but had a whole rack of nubby antlers. But still, I hate remembering that. I hate that it even happened. I try not to berate myself about it because that was years ago and nothing can be done about it now, but it’s difficult not to.
02. Learn to navigate “back roads” (especially at night) as if you’re a professional driver.
Yes, only if you count where I live, because who just “knows” how to maneuver other peoples back roads at night? But I think anyone that lives in rural places can do this. Memphis is not Mississippi and is not really seen as rural, but our friend was driving us all over back roads in the dark and you wouldn’t have even known there was a pretty massive southern city just out there somewhere near us. Same for Jackson. It’s not a huge city, but it is for Mississippi. Another friend was driving her dark back roads like a pro, though I was lost, and if I hadn’t of known Jackson was just there somewhere near behind trees, I never would have known.
03. Choose a side: MSU or Ole Miss.
Does one thing count against you for being a true Mississippian? Because this would be it. While my dad’s brother adores football (along with his wife and kids), even they don’t like Mississippi football. My dad grew up in a household where his dad enjoyed watching baseball. I suppose my uncle likes football, because the Super Bowl started when he was a teenager? However, my dad has never been interested in sports, though he was on the track team in high school, but that doesn’t really count. So, we grew up in a house that watched Sci-Fi telly like Star Trek, Quantum Leap, and Amazing Stories and read books instead of being football fans. Only a small number of people that I know and hang out with personally even like football and only one of those people chose Mississippi and she chose MSU.
04. Have the strength to survive a vicious attack: by fire ants or pesky mosquitoes.
The mosquitoes, not so much. They’re here and I’ve had them flying around me and one or two randomly land, bite, and feed before I knock them off, but I’ve never had problems with them like one of my friends has, since they always want to basically suck her and her family dry. I suppose Irish blood tastes sweeter? hahah. I have given y’all a visual up there, though it may be slightly dramatized. heh heh
The fire ants, however, are an entirely different demon. They’re sort of like wasps around here. I know people will say they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them, but I’m not entirely sure that is true. There will be people in England laying around tall grass with wasps buzzing about them and all is well. I apparently do not have your wasps.
I don’t even try to mess with them, though I do understand that when I was a kid playing in our old dead car that inadvertantly I was messing with their secret home, or the time that The Sister wanted to trim the hedges and got popped by one that it was the same thing. But I will be minding my own business and feel like someone or something is staring daggers through me. I’ll look up to where the feeling is coming from and there is a wasp just sitting there, not hanging out by a nest, just DARING me to look at him wrong, or he’ll end me. They are not nice. They may not attack, but they are certainly not nice.
Anywho, back to the fire ants. I understand the disturbing the nest thing, which one desparately tries to avoid doing, but sometimes you’re just hanging out in the grass. You know where the fire ant hills are and you’re well away from them and then… SURPRISE!! ATTACK!! Were they foraging for food and you got in the way? Even sugar ants aren’t that mean. They pretty much say, “Hey, you! We’re walking here. Hey, you feel me walking on you? I’m going to bite my tiny bite if you won’t cooperate.” With fire ants, you never see it coming. It’s like they’re just hiding out, HOPING and waiting for you to land in their trap.
And when the attack comes there’s nothing to do, but hoop and hollar and strip all your clothes off while jumping about like a crazy person. They’re all over you in seconds and they hurt something fierce, like someone just jabbed roaring hot fire under your skin in a million different places.
I’ve had two such lovely experiences. The first time was when I was thirteen and it was Easter Sunday. When we went outside that morning to go to church, our entire front yard was yellow. All the dandelions were in bloom, before they get the puff ball on them. It was gorgeous. I wanted to take pictures of it, but didn’t have time. When we got back from church, I just grabbed the camera from inside the house, and in all of my Easter finery laid down in the grass to take pictures of the flowers. I already knew where the fire ant beds were and they were not in this quadrant of yard at all. With in 20 seconds I was up, screaming and ripping all my clothes off. I was in my bra and panties trying to rip my stockings off when my mom came out the front door wondering what all of the commotion was.
If anyone had passed by after that, they might have wonderered why a frilly pale yellow top and skirt, stockings, shoes, hat and purse were strewn across our front yard, as I left them there for several hours, just to be sure. But then, perhaps someone would have known instictively.
The second time was when The Sister and I had our above ground inflatable pool. I was in my mid-twenties. It was the end of the season, so we were going to have to drain the water out and fold the pool up until the next year. But we were having fun running into the sides and letting water slosh out. Then we got rather rowdy and since I’m the larger sister, we were using me to lay on one side and let the water rush over me and out into the yard, which was really fun. Only apparently the fire ants from a million miles away somehow sensed we were having too much fun. The water was getting low and finally I just slipped out over the edge with the water. We’re laughing, I’m laying on the ground and then in mere seconds I’ve got this horrible expression on my face and I’m up and screaming and ripping my swim suit off and running across the yard. They’re horrible little creatures, fire ants. I’d have understood later if we had flooded their home. Perhaps we did, but then they were from way off in the woods and not even in our yard, otherwise we would have topped the water out from a different side. Sheesh!
05. Add more fried food into your diet.
This one I’ve got covered and actually should have a little less fried food in my diet. I don’t care what people say;that it’s unhealthy. It tastes AMAZING. I shouldn’t have it every single day for every meal or any such thing, but I’m not going cutting it out completely, because then I’d just be depressed and miserable. Seriously, fried catfish or fried okra, how could I ever live without you!?
06. Learn to make sweet tea.
Well, luckily the point for being a true Mississippian, isn’t actually drinking sweet tea… this time! I’ve never been much of a tea person, really. I like it in theory, just as it looked delicious when Pooh Bear would eat honey from a jar or Bugs Bunny would just munch on carrots, though sadly those weren’t as good as those cartoon characters made them out to be. But, on occassion it is nice to have some very brisk homemade iced tea, that is NOT sweetened and has some lemon in it. Now that is nice. I did have some Moroccan mint iced tea that was slightly sweetened once and Lebanese tea at a local cafe that’s slightly sweet and has rosewater and pine nuts in it. Those are lovely, but as far as normal Lipton filled to the gills with sugar, no thanks, I’ll pass.
Of course it makes sense since no one in my family is a sweet tea drinker. My dad’s side of the family, if they weren’t consuming copious amounts of coffee (which were pretty much just my grandparents), then they were consuming copious amounts of Coke. And to them all of it is referred to as Coke, that or Soft Drinks, which I find is a term from somewhere up near North Carolina/West Virginia-ish way, so that’s weird as my family is from no where near there.
My mom’s side of the family were coffee and homemade, not very sweet lemonade drinkers. Which is why if I make my lemonade it is more tart than sweet, which is very un southern like. But then, the people that adopted my mom were Yankees, so why would they have a lot of overly sweetened drinks? They also made iced tea, but not as much as the other two drinks. They made it the is the way that The Sister and I still enjoy it.
My mom’s real family were like my dad’s family, huge coffee and Coke drinkers, also referring to all soda as Coke, though in this case, her birth mother and step father were also included in the large amounts of Coke drinking.
But, I can pass this question because our family friends are HUGE sweet tea drinkers. Now I mainly see them drinking sodas more than I do tea, but when we were growing up dinners at their house every one of them was drinking sweet iced tea. My family were the odd ones out drinking ice water. So, I do know how to make it because of them. Well, in theory. I couldn’t tell you exactly how much sugar (or Sweet ‘N Low or Splenda) to use, but I know it should taste about like candy. Blech.
07. Attend a state fair or festival.
Check! There are lots of state type fairs in Mississippi, and sadly I’ve never been to THE State Fair in Jackson. See, my family is from Laurel and that town has their own state fair; The South Mississippi Fair. It’s been going on at least since my parents were in middle or early high school, if not longer. This is why, every year while I was growing up, that is the fair we attended.
I have also been to The Choctaw Indian Fair in Philadelphia and The Highland Festival on the coast. We used to always attend Hub Fest every year, which is my home town, and then Day In The Park, which was a festival in Laurel.
08. Make it through at least one intense Mississippi summer.
Check. I can mark this off for 35 years in a row. I barely survived some of those summers, and only by never venturing out until after dark, but I’m still here. There was one summer I remember, it was probably 1998 or 1999. The car I was driving did not have air conditioning and I was dreading yet another gruesome summer without it. But that entire summer was cool and breezy and it was practically bliss without the car a/c. Oh it would be WONDERFUL if this coming summer were exactly like that one, weather wise.
09. Which means, finding a great swimming spot in necessary.
Unfortunately this one’s not so easy. Most of the water is yes, out in the middle of the countryside, but almost all of that is on private property. And the places that aren’t… well most of them you don’t really want to go swimming in. There’s Paul B. Johnson State Park, but there’s alligators in that water! Some of our land is along the Leaf River, but there’s a chicken processing plant that dumps its refuse into the river, besides the fact that there are alligator everythings in there. Alligator Snapping Turtles, Alligator Gar, and well, Alligators! I mean I would live in that river too if I were one of them as unused chicken parts are good eating… if you’re a reptile… or scary fish.
10. Dine at an amazing restaurant that’s hidden in a small town.
I’m not sure if this counts. From a non-Mississippians perspective everywhere here is a small town, including the city that I live in. But around here, I haven’t really hit a lot of the small towns, like the really tee-niny small towns. To me, Laurel, Waynesboro, Philadelphia, Meridian, Hernando, etc. aren’t really all that small. They’re not Hot Coffee or Sandersville small. But, they are actually small I suppose. I have eaten at some great places there, though nothing that looks like the photo show in the original post for this particular point. I suppose the smallest place was a round table in an old home and I don’t know where that was. Was it Sandersville? It was somewhere north or Laurel. I just remember that the families son died in some war and their two story house was within spitting distance to the rail road track (though the trains didn’t travel that way anymore). They were also a boarding house at one time. It was also right across the street (though closed by that time) from a place my dad would later deliver to; some tiny pick-a-pack with a worn out cement floor.
11. Spend an afternoon at a crawfish or shrimp boil.
Check. This I’ve done. Never a shrimp boil though, unless you just count me and my family boiling up some shrimp at home, but I’m pretty certain that doesn’t really count. But we used to attend crawfish boils at my childhood church and there were a few we attended at a family friends house. I don’t even eat crawfish, but you go.
12. Indulge on some famous Mississippi barbecue.
Yes, but never anything like the photo in the original post. I don’t know people personally who whip up really good bbq like that. I’ve had bbq at festivals and street fairs, and then from Leatha’s and this one place a long time ago called Mom’s. But what my family does, and people I know do, is grilling mainly. We just grill meat. We don’t smoke it and we don’t barbecue it, though my dad has started doing dry ribs in the last few years.
13. Remove an unwanted critter from your home.
What we’ve had are bugs mainly. Weevils in the grains. Which is generally during the hottest parts of summer. Spiders, but they’re generally to be found in the basement or outside, though I wish I could find a natural deterant for them, because our basement is turning into Mirkwood Forest! Also, sometimes a few dreaded wasps have found their way in.
Scouting ants have found their way into our bathrooms before looking for water, and sometimes they’ve come in the kitchen looking for sugar, but they’ve been easy to deter and get rid of and it’s only been a very few times. The weirdest time was coming into my second floor bedroom to find a line of ants leading from my closet, across my floor, to the cat food. They’d never found the cat food in our house ever, and they haven’t since. Except later that same summer, I reached my hand into our pantry to get cat food out of the big container and it was full of ants. -_- Oh, just non threatening sugar ants, nothing like fire ants. And that was it for ants, and that was seven years ago. Must have been a bad harvest year for them or something?
Then there are the cockroaches. Large tree roaches is what we call them around here. We used to spray for them, and we tried natural deterants. But if they want in, they’re getting in, which is generally when it’s really cold or really hot and dry. We just let the cats terrorize them to death or smash then with a shoe when we see them.
Any birds that got in, came in through an open window, stared around all bird-like, and then left again, which thankfully wasn’t that many times.
Sometimes we’ve had a few mice. But not many since we have cats, and we’ve found black pepper deters them quite well, because I refuse to let my dad use traps on them. He has in the past and it’s terrible.
Oh, Gnats! Not every year, but in random years, during the hot months, we’ll get fruit flies EVERYWHERE. One or two lone stragglers will zoom lazily around someone’s head, be it human or cat. The Sister and I have started the term, “You’ve got the fruit flies” like we’re an old timey doctor delivering a somber prognosis of some incurrable disease. It makes us laugh.
Lizards get in… a lot. We have the Green Anole lizard. I ADORE them. I think they are so adorable. If they get in I try to save them, because besides simply dying in the house and me stumbling across one of their mummified corpses and being sad, our cats will attack them to death, which is no bueno! So, I’m forever rescuing them and depositing them back outside to safety.
There’s also lady bugs. They’re everywhere, but just randomly, not huge swarms of them or anything. I would save them and take them outside, but that’s all I’d be doing all day, so I just let them enjoy life and play with them while they’re inside.