Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Hi, Sweetie!"

You know you're traveling in the South when you go into a restaurant and the waitress comes up to your table and says something along the lines of "Hi, Honey!" or "Hey Sweetie, what can I getcha?" Yesterday evening I sat my weary carcass down at a table in a San Antonio restaurant and a cheerful young lady bounced up and asked, "Hey, Handsome - what can I bring you?"

I know in my heart that she was looking for that big tip, but ... just for a moment ... I felt like a manly young stud rather than a weary grandpa who leaves the room during the Viagra commercials and slathers on the ointment after playing "Super Leya" with his tireless granddaughter.

Yes, there are legions of women of all ages to whom I - gray hair, spare tire, querulous disposition and all - am known as "Sweetie," "Honey," "Hon," "Handsome," or some variation thereof. And I'm not married to any of them. As far as I know.

People in the Southern half of this country tend, in general, to be somewhat more polite and friendly than those in the North. This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, of course - I've met unpleasant people everywhere I've traveled. But by and large, Southerners tend to be the nicest. They could keep the "Sweetie" part, though.

But in fairness, I have to say that I've seen it elsewhere, too.

Some years ago I flew into London's Heathrow airport (a place to avoid if you have the chance) to attend a meeting in the city the following day. When I went through passport control, the examiner was a chubby, grandmotherly lady who carefully examined my documents and, before applying the entry stamp, looked up at me with a pleasant smile and asked brightly, "And 'ow long are ya plannin' to stay in the Yew-Kay, love?"

I wanted to say, "I don't know...make me an offer!" But I wimped out and answered, "Just until tomorrow evening."

Somehow, I just can't imagine a waitress in Germany calling me "Sweetie." It's always something like, "Sie moechten?" (What would you like?) or "Was moechte der Herr?" ("What would the gentleman like?")

Some people do think I'm a gentleman, after all. At least on first meeting.

So, anyhow, here I am in sun-baked San Antonio, where men are men, women are women, and just about everybody is unfailingly polite. It's the sort of thing you could get used to. Northern Virginia doesn't quite know if it's North or South any more, so you've got to drive a bit further south from Washington to find the real old Southern manners.

But it's worth the trip.

Have a good day. Be polite to somebody. Calling him "Sweetie" is not required.

More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

You have a good trip now, sweetie! Don't tell Agnes I said that :)

Gilahi said...

The first time I took my wife to the deep south, we stopped in SC to buy some fresh peaches (yum!). The woman at the stand said, "What can I do for you, Shug?"

My wife still calls me "shug" sometimes, when she's trying to make a point.

Leslie David said...

Northern VA is northern based on all of us transplants. :) I'm familiar with the Bal'mer "hon." Sweetie? Well, I'd agree, you are a sweetie and I'm not just saying that because you dance with me, although since I've nabbed your timeslot this Friday I expect some dances on May 30.

Mike said...

Hmmmm ..... Bilbo/sweetie ...... Does not compute!

Amanda said...

The politeness there seems to be making your trip extra enjoyable. Have a good time there.

I was thinking of a similar topic for a post from Ipoh. The waiters/waitresses sometimes call people "handsome" and "pretty". "What would you like, handsome?"

Bilbo said...

Andrea - your secret is safe with me!

Gilahi - I'd forgotten all about the "Shug" one...although that seems to be from a bit further south.

Leslie - limber up those feet...

Mike - ask Claudia for a second opinion.

Amanda - it's very nice here, except for the blistering heat and the death-by-briefing tedium of the conference. I guess Ipoh may be a bit like Texas in the manners department, eh?

vw - crackao: a highly addictive chocolate drink.

fiona said...

Sweetie beats "Jock" hands down.
I think "Bilbo sweetie" has quite a nice ring to it!
Sweetie xxx

Bilbo said...

Fiona - awwwwwww..... ;-)