A difference of upbringing

Dixie Divas
Athens Banner-Herald | 8/21/2008

Not long ago, I met a nice guy, a renewing of an old friendship actually, and I tried to fall in love. I tried but I couldn’t.

He was from New Jersey.

Now, this isn’t to say that I couldn’t fall in love with a man from New Jersey. I think I could love Jon Bon Jovi. He seems like a nice man. And though he has departed from this Earth, I have a crush on Frank Sinatra. That proves that I have feelings for two men from New Jersey.

But this recent one? This one was really a no from the get-go.

He had lots of good, solid qualities. A real go-getter and handsome with blonde hair and crystal blue eyes.

But, in the end, the South and the North found itself in conflict again.

Over lunch, he listened as I conversed with the waitress then she hurried off.

He leaned forward. "Why are you always so polite to everyone?" He asked the question nicely. He was genuinely perplexed.

"What do you mean?"

"You always call everyone ‘ma’am’ or ‘sir’ and you say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ for everything." He shrugged. "I find that interesting."

"You don’t call people ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’?" I asked.

"No!" He was emphatic. "And I’m not going to, either. They haven’t earned my respect. Why would I call a waitress ‘ma’am’?"

Now, it was my turn to be floored. The words "sir," "ma’am," "please" and "thank you" are so deeply ingrained in my mind. Regardless of age, gender, ethnic background or job status, I speak with courtesy to people. Unless, of course, they have been blatantly rude to me – then Southern manners are momentarily disposed.

I studied him with astonishment. "When you were growing up, didn’t your mama make you call people ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’?"

He shook his head vigorously. "No, she didn’t. It’s much nicer and friendlier here than up North. But you guys take it too far. Calling someone you don’t even know ‘ma’am’?" He shook his head. "That’s way too much."

I narrowed my eyes as, right there in a Mexican restaurant in Greenville, S.C., another budding romance nose-dived and crashed.

"The least I can do is treat people with courtesy. Especially those who aren’t as blessed as I am. Waiting tables is a tough job. I have to be respectful."

We finished the meal with awkward conversation then walked to my car, said polite but distant good-byes and that was that. Unlike the Southern guys I have known, he didn’t call to make sure I had arrived home safely.

He never called for another date but if he does, my reply will be succinct:

"No, sir. Thank you for asking. Please don’t call again."

© 2008 | OnlineAthens

On The Web: http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/082408/liv_321546695.shtml