Even though I’ve lived outside of the South for most of my life, in some ways I still had a fairly Southern upbringing. Life was full of things that ladies do or don’t do. Some of them were relatively banal – ladies don’t chew gun, run in the house, say ain’t, spit, or scratch in public.
Some things that seem innocuous enough, though, can become toxic. Do as you’re told. Don’t object, argue, or give your opinion unless it’s asked for. Be agreeable. Don’t interrupt, don’t be selfish. The list was almost unending, but in some ways, they all came down to the same thing: What you need is unimportant. Put everyone else’s needs first. If there’s anything left over, take care of yourself, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience anyone else.
Don’t even get me started on the ‘rules’ for dealing with boys. A whole new level of, well, I don’t even know what to call it. But that’s a story for another day.
But somehow along the way, I managed to miss out on the training for what seems to be an essential part of the true Southern lady – the quiet backbone of steel. Hell, forget steel. A backbone of titanium. Remember Gone with the Wind – Melanie Wilkes rising from her sickbed and rushing to Scarlett’s aid when the Yankees showed up at Tara? She could hardly walk, but she would have fought to the death for her loved ones. She was sweet, kind, thoughtful and gracious, but there was a line. That line didn’t waver, and couldn’t be crossed.
In the past, I’ve been guilty of biting my tongue or turning the other cheek while my lines were being crossed. I thought maintaining harmony was too important to risk, that keeping relationships by allowing others to do as they pleased was more important than taking care of my own needs.
In Tomatoes, Evelyn follows Idgie’s lead in calling for Towanda. Towanda, the avenger, righter of wrongs, queen beyond compare! I’m gonna find my own Towanda, and put her to work. She’s been lazy for far too long.