Posts Tagged ‘Southern’

A Word From Our Gov’ner:
   Welcome to Alabama. Whether you are a new ten-year-old driver moving up from farm tractors to automobiles, or a seventy-year-old driver with two cataracts and a slow response time, this online Alabama Driving Guide will help you to understand and follow Alabama’s traffic laws.

When driving in Alabama, it is important to always drive in the most unconventional and unpredictable manner possible. Doing this keeps the other drivers alert and reduces the chance of accidents. Remember, Alabama is the home of the Talladega Superspeedway, and just like your favorite NASCAR driver, the goal of every Alabama driver is to get to their end-point the fastest, by whatever means necessary.

Right-of-Way Rules:

   As an Alabama driver, you have the right-of-way in all situations.

If anyone infringes on your right-of-way, honk your horn, curse loudly, and gesture wildly to let them know. You may give up the right-of-way whenever it amuses you, or whenever you can’t remember the traffic laws.

Obtaining eye contact with another driver rescinds your right-of-way. It is also a good idea to yield the right-of-way to any vehicle that is bigger and has more steel than yours, especially if you feel like it will come out ahead in the event of an accident.

   Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way. Pedestrians should not be in the cross-walk when the light changes. Pedestrians in crosswalks are considered fair game. A little time in the hospital will remind them that you, as the owner of an Alabama-licensed vehicle, always have the right-of-way. Warning!! if you make eye contact with a pedestrian, you give up your right-of-way.

Safe Traveling Distance:

   Under no circumstances should you leave a distance greater than one-half car length between you and the car in front of you. "Share the Road" means leave plenty of space for cars to pull in behind you. If you leave too much space between you and the car in front of you, it will be filled by some other driver who will most likely be traveling slower than you are, putting you both in an even more dangerous situation.

Automotive Lighting

   The primary purpose of headlights are to remind other drivers that you have the right-of-way. Do not use headlights when driving during daylight hours – it just wastes energy. Unless absolutely necessary, do not use your headlights in towns or cities during hours of darkness. That’s what street lights are for. Also, flashing your high beams at other drivers is most effective when coming from an fast-traveling un-lit car.

In rural situations, headlights can be used to allow you to see the road ahead when it gets very dark. Modern cars and trucks do not come equipped with sufficient lighting for rural driving. The state of Alabama strongly recommends you purchase a light bar with at least four high beams if you will be doing any rural driving. During hours of darkness, you may use parking lights and spotlights on back roads, deer stands, and in residential neighborhoods.

Emergency Flashers

Turn on your emergency flashers whenever you:

  • drive in the rain
  • stop for a yard sale
  • haul hay or count cattle in the field
  • tow a disabled pickup
  • drive slower than the speed limit
  • drive faster than the speed limit
  • want cars on a highway to get out of the left lane
  • are not sure if you want to turn right or left
  • back down an exit ramp
  • back up on the interstate

Signaling Your Intentions:

Turn signals give other drivers clues as to your next move. Alabama drivers never use them.

Traffic Lights:

   Alabama traffic lights have three colors: Tuscaloosa red, Auburn orange (some call it yellow), and green.

A red light means “stopping is permitted”. Right turns on red are permitted. If you are quick about it, a left turn on red is permitted. Straight through on red is always permitted. A U-turn on red is permitted.

A yellow light indicates the light is going to turn red, and that you should speed up, otherwise, a yellow light should be treated the same as a red light. Remember, the faster you drive through a yellow or red light, the smaller your chance of getting hit.

A green light simply lets you know that the red and yellow light are off. Never take a green light at face value. Always look right and left and right and left again before proceeding, unless you have side impact airbags and good insurance.

Traffic Signs:

   Traffic signs are purely for decoration of the roadside, they are like advertising; just ignore them.

The new electronic traffic warning system signs placed on the interstates are to make Alabama look high-tech and to distract your attention from the police car parked in the median.

Speed limits are arbitrary figures, given only as suggestions and usually not enforced except on vehicles with out-of-state tags.

Traffic Lanes:

   Crossing two or more lanes in a single lane change is called “going with the flow”. Never pass on the left if there is good paved surface you can use to pass on the right. Don’t worry about people entering the highway; remember, you have the right-of-way . Using the shoulder of the road, an on-ramp, or an off-ramp to pass is perfectly acceptable when when freeway traffic drops below 50 m.p.h.

Maneuvering Your Vehicle:

   When making a turn, announce your intention to turn by looking straight ahead. If turning right, swerve to the left side of the road. If turning left, move slightly on to the right shoulder. If any vehicles impede your turn, honk at them.

Braking Safely:

   Modern vehicles are equipped with Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS). ABS requires that you brake as hard and as late as possible, also called “stopping short”. Short-stopping insures your ABS system kicks in. What good is it to have the ABS system if you don’t use it? A side benefit to ABS is the nice, relaxing foot massage as the brake pedal pulsates If you are in the 80% who drive clunkers without ABS, short-stopping is a chance to strengthen your leg muscles.

   Learn to swerve abruptly. Alabama’s oyster-shell roads are a great place to learn high-speed slalom driving and drifting techniques thanks to their naturally slick surface, augmented by the infrequent rains and millions of Alabama cars that leak oil. Also, the Alabama Department of Transportation puts potholes in key locations to test your driver reflexes and keep you alert.

Always slow down and rubberneck whenever you see an accident, someone changing a tire, or a vehicle out of gas. It is perfectly alright to come to complete stop in the middle of a street to check an address, especially during rush-hour.


   Speed limits do not apply while passing other cars.

Before passing a car, tailgate to signal to the driver in front of you that they are going too slow.

During the hours of darkness, set your headlights to high beam to convey your intention to pass. Plan your passing move to overtake a slower vehicle at an intersection, highway on-ramp, or off-ramp. Ramps, shoulders, medians and sidewalks allow you extra room for passing.

Announce your intention to pass by looking straight ahead, swerving into the left lane, and pressing the accelerator pedal to the floor. If there is not enough room to pass in the left lane, or you face oncoming traffic, do not abort your passing maneuver as you will confuse other drivers. Lane markings are purely decorative, and you should make the most efficient use of the entire paved surface during passing. A two-lane road with shoulders will easily fit three cars side-by-side; that’s why the shoulders are there. Use the left shoulder to continue your passing maneuver. Remember, when passing a slower vehicle, you have the right-of-way.

Construction Zones:

   Construction Zone signs are set up to tell you about road closures ahead. They are typically set up immediately after you pass the last available exit, but before the traffic begins to back up. A lane closure is just a game used by the Department of Transportation to see how many vehicles can fit in a minimum amount of space.

Driving Practice:

   Female student drivers should practice putting on pantyhose and applying eye makeup at sixty-five miles per hour as well as in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Going Green:

   Throwing litter on the roads adds variety to the landscape, keeps existing litter from getting lonely and gives Adopt-a-highway crews and Alabama state prisoners something to do to build their self-esteem.

Weather Conditions:

   Heavy snows, ice, fog, or rain is no reason to modify any of the previously listed rules. These weather conditions are mother nature’s way of ensuring Alabama’s low jobless rate for body shop workers, junk yard owners and new and used vehicle sales staff. After all, we do have our priorities.


Mature Southern Women know how to throw an insult without being insulting.

   Someone once noted that a Southerner can get away with the most awful kind of insult just as long as you add the disclaimer “Bless her heart” or “Bless his heart” somewhere within the insult. For example, “If they put his brain on the head of a pin, it’d roll around like a BB on a six-lane highway, bless his heart.” Or how about, “Bless her heart, she’s so bucktoothed, she could eat an apple through a picket fence.”

   There are also the sneakier insults that I remember from tongue-clucking types of my childhood: “You know, it’s amazing that even though she had that baby seven months after they got married, bless her heart, it weighed 10 pounds!”

   As long as the heart is sufficiently blessed, the insult can’t be all that bad, at least that’s what my Great-aunt Tiny (bless her heart, she was anything but) used to say. I was thinking about this the other day when a friend was telling me about her new Northern friend who was upset because her toddler is just beginning to talk and he has a Southern accent. My friend, who is very kind and, bless her heart, cannot do a thing about those thighs of hers, so don’t even start, was justifiably miffed about this.

   After all, this woman had CHOSEN to move South a couple of years ago. “Can you believe it?” she said to my friend. “A child of mine is going to be taaaallllkkin’ a-liiiike thiiiissss.” I can think of far worse fates than speaking Southern for this adorable little boy, who, bless his heart, must surely be the East Coast king of mucus. I wish I’d been there. I would have said that shouldn’t fret, because there is nothing so sweet or pleasing on the ear as a soft Southern drawl.

   Of course, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at our “carryings on.” After all, when you come from a part of the world where “family silver” refers to the large medallion around Uncle Vinnie’s neck, you just have to, as Aunt Tiny would say, “consider the source.” Now don’t get me wrong. Some of my dearest friends are from the North, bless their hearts.

   I welcome their perspective, their friendships, and their recipes for authentic Northern Italian food. I’ve even gotten past their endless complaints that you can’t find good bread down here.

   The ones who really gore my ox are the native Southerners who have begun to act almost embarrassed about their speech. It’s as if they want to bury it in the “Hee Haw” cornfield. We’ve already lost too much. I was raised to swanee, not swear, but you hardly ever hear anyone say that anymore, I swanee you don’t. And I’ve caught myself thinking twice before saying something is “right much,” “right close” or “right good” because non-natives think this is right funny indeed. I have a friend from Bawston who thinks it’s hilarious when I say I’ve got to “carry” my daughter to the doctor or “cut off” the light.

   That’s OK. It’s when you have to explain things to people who were born here that I get mad as a mule eating bumblebees. Not long ago, I found myself trying to explain to a native Southerner what I meant by being “in the short rows.” I’m used to explaining that expression (it means you’ve worked a right smart but you’re almost done) to newcomers to the land of buttermilk and cold collard sandwiches (better than you think), but to have to explain it to a Southerner was just plain weird. The most grating example is found in restaurants and stores where nice, Magnolia-mouthed clerks now say “you guys” instead of “y’all,” as their mamas raised them up to say. I’d sooner wear white shoes in February, drink unsweetened tea, and eat Miracle Whip instead of Duke’s than utter the words, “you guys.” Not long ago I went to lunch with four women friends and the waiter, a nice Southern boy, you-guys-ed all of us within an inch of our lives. “You guys ready to order? What can I get for you guys? Would you guys like to keep you guys’ forks?”

   Lord, have mercy. It’s a little comforting that, at the very same time some natives are so eager to blend in, they’ve taken to making microwave grits (an abomination), the rest of the world is catching on that it’s cool to be Clampett. How else do you explain NASCAR tracks and Krispy Kreme doughnut franchises springing up like yard onions all over the country?

   To those of you who’re still a little embarrassed by your Southern-ness, take two tent revivals and a dose of redeye gravy and call me in the morning.

Bless your heart!

   (My personal favorite was uttered by my aunt who said, “Bless her heart, she can’t help being ugly, but she could’ve stayed home.)

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Typical Southern directions

The South’s most collectible Limited Edition Barbies

The 'General Lee' from the TV show 'The Dukes of Hazzard' by Warner Brothers.

   In the South, people tend to live their whole lives around the same geographical place, and tend to refer to landmarks by colloquialisms, rather than the legal names. This can make directions difficult to follow:

  • Head out toward the West side of town.
  • Next, take ‘at big ol’ four-lane down to the bottom of that big hill that has the crook in the road at the bottom.
  • Turn right on Miller’s Rd, but there ain’t no sign ’cause a car knocked it down. (You’ll turn left if you passed it and had to turn around).
  • The second street on your left is Dobbins Dr. It looks like someone’s driveway, but it ain’t and you don’t turn there.
  • If you keep going straight, you’ll end up at the High School, and it’s ‘One Way’ so you have to circle around back and go up through the construction site to get back on the main road.
  • Once you’re on the main road, take a left on the third gravel road, but get in the right lane or you’ll miss it.
  • Take a left at the house ‘Old Hank’ Smith used to live in. We live on this road. The address is #245, but there are no house numbers ’cause we all know where we live. You’ll see either a gold Cadillac or a green Toyota in the driveway unless Junior is still at work, then it’ll be a white Ford or a blue Jeep.
  • See you in about five minutes!


Mattel, the major toy company who owns the rights to the Barbie® doll, has tried many different approaches to expanding the Barbie line, from the ‘make-up and hair’ bodiless Barbie head, to the life-sized “My Barbie”. One of their more lucrative offerings was the Christmas fashion-themed “Holiday Barbies.” The first Holiday Barbie, released in 1988, can be worth as much as $750. Mattel also offered a line of University cheerleaders and international-themed Barbies wearing traditional ethnic clothing. Now Mattel has created a new line of eight fashion dolls in a series of “Southern Girls.”

    Warning: Some readers may find the following article offensive.


Knoxville Barbie

   ‘Knoxville Barbie’ is an East Tennessee Princess who knows how to spend money! She comes with an assortment of Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Prada, and Abercrombie accessories. She also has a soft spot in her heart for animals and so a long-haired foreign dog is included. There are two versions of ‘Knoxville Barbie’, one with a tummy tuck, the other has a facelift. The gas-guzzling Lexus SUV and her soul mate, ‘Workaholic Ken’ are each sold separately. ‘Knoxville Barbie’ is only for sale in exclusive Mall shops.

Tri-Cities Barbie

   Hailing from Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City area of Tennessee and Virgina, the ‘Tri-Cities Barbie’ is a modern, active, and independent homemaker. Her clothing line includes biker shorts, fitness sweats, and a gym suit. She has to make the daily rounds between Skipper’s soccer, basketball, and volleyball games. That’s why her Ford Windstar includes a Garmin navigation system and a Blue Tooth phone. The Ford Windstar and ‘Sporty Skipper’ are each sold separately.

Atlanta Barbie

   The Yuppie* ‘Atlanta Barbie’ comes with Anne Klein, Liz Claiborne, and Lord & Taylor suits. Her accessories include a complete portable office: a Mac® Book, Smart Phone, Starbuck’s® coffee cup, credit cards, and Country Club membership certificate. She keeps her office on-the-go with your choice of a convertible BMW, or a Hummer H2 (each sold separately). Rounding out the ‘Atlanta Barbie’ offering are ‘Shallow Friend Ken’ with the patented ‘Roving Eye’, and ‘Private School Skipper,’ each sold separatley. Mattel offers 2.9% financing on purchase of two or more ‘Atlanta Barbies.’ [* Young Urban Professional]

Memphis Barbie

   Formerly offered as ‘Parolee Barbie,’ the new ‘Memphis Barbie‘ still retains the ex-con persona. Her wardrobe includes street clothes, jeans, and oversized ‘hoodie’ jackets. Accessories include a 9mm, a hunting knife, and a meth lab. This Barbie drives a late-model GMC pickup (sold separately) with dark tinted windows and a ground effects package. She sometimes gives a ride to ‘Parole Officer Ken’ (also sold separately). ‘Memphis Barbie’ can only be purchased after 11:00 p.m. and must be paid for in cash.

Middlesboro Barbie

   ‘Middlesboro Barbie’ is a young, single mother that comes with a stroller and two young babies. ‘Middlesboro Barbie’ comes with a wardrobe of oversized T-shirts, cut-off jeans, and a “University of Kentucky – National Champions” basketball jersey. Accessories include a GED, cell phone, and WIC vouchers. Her boyfriend, ‘Baby-Daddy Ken’ is no longer available.

Birmingham Barbie

   Hailing from the Heart of Dixie, this pale, skinny, over-made up ‘Birmingham Barbie comes with painted-on blush, two-sizes-too-small Wrangler jeans, a NASCAR T-shirt, and a ‘tramp stamp’ tattoo. Accessories include a six-pack of beer and a country music CD. ‘Birmingham Barbie’ is fully poseable and she can high-kick ‘Mullet-haired Ken’ in the face with no problem. Broken-down pickup with confederate flag is sold separately.

Olando Barbie

   This brassy-haired beauty is ‘Orlando Barbie’ and she comes with false fingernails, a pair of high-heel sandals, a flowered halter top and low-rise, acid-washed jeans. Her mobile home (sold separately) comes with two lawn chairs and a black-and-white TV. Other available lawn accessories include worn out tires, car batteries, pink flamingos and a ceramic toilet filled with flowers. Her boyfriend ‘Roofer Ken’ and his friend, ‘Beer Gut Bob’ are also each sold separately.


Asheville Skipper

   ‘Asheville Skipper’ sports a ‘natural look’ of short, straight brown hair, no makeup, unshaven armpits, and Birkenstocks with white socks. Although her name is Skipper, she prefers to be called ‘Star.’ Star does not come with a Ken doll, nor does she want one, but if you buy the optional Subaru Wagon with Rainbow bumper sticker, you get a second ‘Asheville Skipper’ FREE.

Typical Southern directions

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