southern gothic: part one
-there’s an overpriced boutique next to every grocery store. they all have names related to plants. they all sell raincoats and yeti cups and you can get everything monogrammed. no matter what kind of coupons or deals they dish out, you always feel like you’ve spent too much. no one knows how long they’ve been open, but the stores seem to maintain their novelty with a vice grip. the teenage girls who work there say they go to your school, but they’ve been seniors for years now.
-your parents and the parents of your sister’s boyfriend are good friends. you go on week-long vacations with them to florida. during boating season, you go to the lake with them. their grandma is now your grandma. soon you name their new puppy. how long has it been?
-a sheriff’s car from a different county always seems to be cruising down the street or parked next to you at trader joe’s.
-chick-fil-a is the centerpiece of the south. everyone around you is addicted. the kids at school risk getting in trouble to leave and get a milkshake and that chicken sandwich. when asked where you want to go for lunch, there is only one answer. there’s a chick-fil-a on every street. you never lose sight of that white and red cup because more often than not there is one in your hand. how long have you been sitting at this table? the kindly woman who cleans tables asks if you need more coke. you say yes and smile at her. when she comes back, she pats your shoulder and asks about the family. you thank her. it is ALWAYS her pleasure.
-your teacher is either your neighbor or they live two hours away. it is certainly a miracle how they get there so early and leave so late. sometimes you stay after to help them and they never talk about going home; they always divert the topic elsewhere. when you leave school, your car is the last one in the lot.
-the lady who works in the overpriced boutique has a daughter a year younger than you. she had the same teachers as you did last year. it turns out that the lady went to the same high school as your mom. they both talk in loud, southern accents endlessly, blocking the section of brightly colored tumblers. you lose track of time and forget why you were shopping there in the first place.
-you ask your mom why you and so many other families travel to florida at the same time during the summer. she shifts and smiles uneasily. later, you hear her talking to your dad about planning the family vacation to destin. all the rental houses are full. the panic in their tones is evident. they call the neighbors and ask if their condo will be empty. they beg. it doesn’t matter where we stay; we just have to go to florida during that week.