Today's guest is Lauren Clark, author of Dancing Naked in Dixie. The Deep South is the perfect setting for Lauren Clark’s novels; contemporary fiction sprinkled with secrets, sunshine, and surprises. Her heroines are real women with real obstacles in their lives; challenges that require strength, sacrifice, and personal growth. And while it’s convenient to have a prince charming on standby, Lauren’s heroines are capable of creating their own happily-ever afters–with brains, not beauty, saving the day.
A former TV anchor, Lauren is a reformed news junkie, non-reformed coffee drinker, and certified library geek. She loves the color pink, her Electra Townie bike, and any place she can see the ocean and stick her toes in the sand. Lauren adores her family, paying it forward, eight hours of sleep a night, homemade macaroni and cheese, and true-blue friends.
Take it away, Lauren!
Stranger in a Strange LandI come from the Deep South, myself (Louisiana) and your post has really made me miss it! Thank you for the memories, Lauren!
I moved to the Deep South twelve years ago after living on the East Coast for most of my life. When people talk about culture shock, I really know what they mean!
A month into living in Alabama, I began a new job at a television station in Dothan (WTVY-News 4) working the early morning shift (2 am – 10 am). I was the morning anchor, and try as I could, I still managed to botch words like “Choctawhatchee” and confuse mascots for Auburn and Alabama college football (Tiger and Elephant, BTW).
Joe, the man who directed the morning show, would chortle into my earpiece and Oscar Fann, my co-host and meteorologist would tease me relentlessly about being a Yankee!
One of the funniest experiences I can remember about that first month was running to grab lunch for my news director. I was headed to Subway, and my boss requested a chicken sandwich with “baked glaze.” I paused, as I had never heard of “baked glaze,” so I repeated it back to be certain. A bit annoyed at this point, he huffed his confirmation and sent me on my way. Ten minutes later, standing in line at Subway, I realized that he was asking for “Baked Lays” potato chips. Sigh. I did return with the Baked Lays, by the way.
Since that time, I’ve embraced all that is the Deep South. I've been to "meat and threes," a restaurant that serves an "entree of the day" like pork or beef, then adds 3 vegetables. I understand that when someone says "mash the button" they mean "press it." If a person says he wants to "carry you" to the store, it means "drive you there in a car." I no longer wonder why, on country road, would a stranger behind the wheel of a pick-up wave as you pass going the other direction. My second son was born in Alabama. Every bit the Southern boy, he spouts phrases like “I’m fixin’ to go to my friend’s house,” or “Where y’all going?” and talks about quail hunting and biscuits for breakfast.
Living in the Deep South is not perfect. It is 100 degrees in the shade mid-August, I have found lizards in the laundry (once or twice), and if you're not careful where you step, you might land on a bed of fire ants. They bite and your feet get yucky, puffy welts! I do miss snow at Christmas and the cool breezes on a summer evening. I miss my family. I miss the change of seasons and the brilliant autumn leaves.
But nothing can replace the Spanish moss hanging from the Live Oak Trees or the sound of children playing on the sidewalk outside our 100-year old home. Nothing can replace a neighbor offering to sit with you on your front porch when you’ve had a bad day. Nothing can replace the smell of honeysuckle on the vine in the spring.
For a while, I was a stranger in a strange land. But embracing change and cultural differences is something I truly believe in. My life is richer and fuller because of it. The South is home now and I love it!