Southern comfort

“…Well bless your heart.” This was the quote that my friend, Hazel, had warned me of. “That’s basically a polite way of saying go screw yourself” she had told me. And so it was in Marion, Virginia, that I heard that dreaded line. We were checking into our hotel there and making small talk with the woman attending to us. When I told her where we had come from (Oregon), and where we would eventually wind up (Europe), she smiled and uttered The Phrase. “Well- bless your heart!” My mouth dropped open, my smile turned upside down, and I stared hard at my new adversary. You. Bitch. After all these miles, this is how you greet us?


Of course, this is all imagined and ridiculous (right?). She did utter those words, but I’m sure there weren’t any bad intentions there. In fact she was sweet as peach pie. And I have nothing but good things to say about the General Francis Marion Hotel, in historic downtown Marion, VA. The hotel is a renovated throwback to the roaring twenties, AND full of good ole’ charm like vintage switchboards, antique fixtures, and original card playing rooms.

img_0472What a great place to stay in the middle of a beautiful state. In fact, I never realized how pretty much of the South is; Alabama, Tennessee, and Virginia were all highly scenic states to drive through, even along the interstates. I got my oil changed in Chattanooga and had a good laugh with the guys at the Valvoline about growing up in NY, living in Oregon for the last twelve years, and heading to Scotland.

I should say at this point, I have decided that tasting a wine from every state we enter will be a bonus, but not a top priority. There’s just too much road to cover and we need to spend some time with family before we leave for Europe… Who am I kidding. It’s the wine. I can’t do it any more! My right arm for a decent glass of vino!! O.K., that’s not quite fair, and I have tasted some decent wines along the way. Not the muscadine rose — “Miss Scarlet” — I bought in Mississippi, but still there out there…

The cabernet franc from Horton Vineyards I bought at Handsome Molly’s cafe (hi Angie) in Marion was surprisingly good. Not Loire valley pretty, and not as lush and ripe as some of the Washington state cab franc, but still full of sweet herbal and spiced fruit flavors. I should have bought this before we had dinner at the hotel’s adjoining restaurant, The Black Rooster- a symbol that was often used during the prohibition to secretly advertise “drinks served here”. It would have gone well with the black and blue ribeye. And who can complain about fried green tomatoes and eggs for breakfast?img_0474

I’ll miss the South. I never would have thought I’d be saying that. Pre-conceived notions can be very, very strong, and I won’t lie- I had my share of them about much of the South. But after spending some time here, talking to the locals, and seeing some of the countryside, I can now say that I might have a better sense of what “Southern comfort” is all about. Not everyone moves like slugs, and not everyone drives a pickup with a rebel flag pasted to their bumper. Just like not everyone from NY wears gold chains, and tawks like dis. Although there are lots of those. In any case, I’m glad to have had my Yankee eyes opened a bit more, and I’m even happier to have tasted some good southern wine. It’s time to git on up to NY and taste some local wine there. Stay tuned…

Y’all take care now, y’ hear?



~ by Jared on April 15, 2009.

2 Responses to “Southern comfort”

  1. Oh my goodness. I grew up in a family of cotton farmers in the Mississippi delta just south of Memphis.
    My aunt Celista Bell told me (as a child): “Shoogha, down South we can talk about somebody all we want and say whateva we want about them –just as long as you always add ‘bless their heart’!”

    Usually we reserve the usage you are fearing for people who say something like: “Oh, I feel just terrible about having to take your land, really I do.” or “We accept full responsibility for those levee failures that flooded New Orleans in 2005.” or “We just don’t have the same Race problem up North.”

    You just don’t fit that bill, Jared. Judging from your posts, I’d bet that concierge meant it as a real blessing. We love hearing about other places from people of other places.
    Hehehe… that isn’t to say your friend is incorrect –especially in Virginia, Ha! So, if you think that is happening again, just look that person in the eye and laugh. They’ll get it if that is what they’re up to.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip and…
    bless yer heart!
    Editilla~New Orleans Ladder

    • Hi Bruce,

      …well bless YOUR heart! 🙂 I’ve been saying this to EVERYBODY. The guy at the gas station. The woman in the check-out line at the grocery store. My wife. Cops. Myself in the mirror. I love it! BLESS ALL Y’ALL HEARTS!!

      Seriously, I think she was being sincerely sweet and I feel like I’ve been let in on a secret language down south. Pretty cool…

      Bles- ahhh, enough already.

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