I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays!

“Come here and let me hug your neck!”

That’s what you’re are apt to hear in the south when you meet someone you haven’t seen in a while. Why the neck, I wonder sometimes. I guess because it’s more intimate than a shoulder hug or a side hug. Friendlier. Warmer.

We southerners are social people, and we will love you fiercely and hard. We like to visit and hear your stories and tell you ours. We want to revel in your triumphs and commiserate over your defeats. We will celebrate your joys and bare your pains as if they were our own.

And when you’ve gone away and come back, we will welcome you home like family. Here’s how a conversation might go between long-lost friends south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Pete: I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays!

Junebug: It’s been a minute!

Lorene: How are your mama and ‘em?

Pete: Finer than frog’s hair! Yours?

Junebug: They’re hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit.

Lorene: How about them young ‘uns?

Pete: Well, Tater’s 18 now and thinks he’s the cat’s ass.

Junebug: What about your ankle-biter, Lorene?

Lorene: Darlene’s just turned 12, and she’s so sassy I just want to slap the taste out of her mouth half the time!

Pete: She’s a pistol, that one! How’s the new job, Junebug?

Junebug: You know what they say, if you ain’t the lead dog, the view never changes!

Lorene: I heard that!

Pete: I swannie!

Junebug: Did Arletta ever jump the broomstick?

Lorene: Nah, why would Lucious want to buy the cow when he can get the milk for free?

Pete: Did y’all hear Delbert threw a hissy down to the feed store because they quit carrying biddy mash?

Junebug: Who cares? I wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire!

Lorene: Junebug, you’re about as funny as a screen door on a submarine.

Pete: Welp, I’d better skedaddle! See y’all on the flip side!

Junebug: If life lasts!

Lorene: ‘For y’all go, come here and let me hug your neck!