I moved from Oklahoma to North Carolina in the spring of 7th grade, I believe it was 1984 and I was about 12 1/2 years old.
I had to leave my 'hood in Tulsa and all of its benefits: school that I could walk (or bike) to, skating rink, community pool, friends. My hood was my world! I seriously did not need to go anywhere out of my 'hood. It was all any my fingertips as long as my fingertips were grasping my handle bars. (Just so I don't lose any cool points, my bike was actually blue - to match my overalls.)
But North Carolina has the beach, a fresh - new start, my Memaw and Lee Anne. I was happy to be so close to Lee Anne, my Auntie Hero!!
I remember going to Lee Anne's room when we got to Memaw's house. Her room was an addition to a very old family house and it was in the back. You had to walk thru Memaw and Papa's room to get there. It was very "Hi Papa!!" and giggle/scurry to the back where the cool party was at.
Lee gave me a pack of multi-tip fruity scented pencils, a stack of her hand-me-down clothes and let me listen to her funky blue radio. Out of the clothes she gave me, I picked out my outfit to wear for my first day of school: a beige button up shirt with beige shorts and beige knee socks. Why on earth did this strike me as a dress to impress outfit? Sheesh! I must have looked like a Marlin Perkins groupie!!
I remember being scolded for wearing shorts to school, about 1 minute after I arrived. Not that they were short shorts, they were longish, hemmed just above my knee. This is the South. The humid, sticky south and wearing shorts to school was a no-no. If I could have, I would have died on the spot right there. I'd already broken a cardinal rule at my new school. I would be reminded of this rule breaking with every new teacher I met that day.
By the time my fruity scented pencils and I made it to Science class that afternoon I was feeling a little overwhelmed, to say the least. My science teacher was a black lady, I think her name was Mrs. Morris. She was teaching us about mass, weight and gravity. For the life of me, I can not remember the exact question she asked but I did go something like this:
What is the term for measure of matter something has?
And I knew the answer, so I raised my hand.
Please Lord, please let something go right today.
I KNOW this answer, please make her pick me!
Of course she did not pick me. She picked some other guy to answer the question. I also can not remember the guys name who she picked but I do remember that he was not a small, skinny dude. He was rather large, not only tall but big-boned and um...big skinned over that. He was a BIG BOY.
Big Boy answers, "My ass."
OHMYGOD!! OHMYGOD!! OHMYGOD!! DID HE JUST SAY MY ASS??? I swear I almost fainted. I can't wear shorts to school but Big Boy can cuss in class. TO THE TEACHER!!! I was red in the face, I was embarrassed for Big Boy and for Mrs. Morris. My eyes got HUGE waiting to see what was going to happen next....
Mrs. Morris says, "That's correct Big Boy. Mass is the measure of matter that an object has."
Not My Ass.
And so began my understanding of the Southern Drawl.