For Mother’s Day, I wrote about what an ill-tempered child I was. Mama’s mantra to me during my growing-up years was “You’ve got to learn to control your temper.” And it’s mostly worked. Now, whenever I feel a little flare up, I hear Mama’s calm voice and try to go to a happy place.
But I think Southerners are generally a hot-headed people. Maybe it’s the intolerable heat or the pervasive poverty. Maybe we have a chip on our collective shoulder because we’re generally looked down on as backward. Maybe it’s just our nature. We’d just as soon fight you as look at you.
When I was in my thirties, Mama came to visit and presented me with a book saying, “Read this. It will tell you why you are the way you are.” It was called Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. I highly recommend it if you’re interested in that sort of thing. And since our family has a wide swath of Scots-Irish, as do many Southern families, it did explain a lot.
Now I won’t write you a book report, but suffice it to say that all this got me thinking about anger and the expressions Southerners use to characterize it. So before you get your panties in a wad, let’s get right down to it.
Southerners don’t just get mad, we have fits. You can pitch a fit or throw a fit, and your fit can either be characterized as a hissy fit, a shit fit, or a conniption. I’m not sure which is worse. All of them are pretty bad.
There are varying degrees of mad before you get to a fit. If you’re a little irritated, you might have a burr under your saddle or be as grouchy as a bear in March. And if people sense you are feeling like you might get so mad you could spit, they should have the good sense to let sleeping dogs lie.
Sometimes though, you just get a case of the ass and can’t shake it which will often result in you getting hotter than fish grease. You might even get so mad you see red (this has actually happened to me) and have a total come-apart. And when you really fly off the handle, when you’re really fit to be tied, well … somebody better cover the baby’s ears because you might just cuss a blue streak.
If somebody gets you madder than a wet hen, you can always turn to Jesus for help. Just say “Lord help me and bind me. Tie my hands behind me.” Just a few seconds and a little help from above often diffuses a situation. Otherwise you might just be inclined to slap the taste out of somebody’s mouth!
And if that doesn’t help, just remember that you can always get glad in them same britches you got mad in!
(Did I mention that my book is here? Get your copy of They Call Me Orange Juice today!)