Monday, May 18, 2015
Memory, Magnolias and Making a Fool of Myself
If you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’ll share with you a tale of shame and woe. Well, not really, but it sure was embarrassing after the fact.
In 2009, I had just relocated from Lowell, Massachusetts back to Washington, DC (very specifically Alexandria, Virginia) and was at the Pentagon City Borders Book Store. As I love a bargain, quite naturally I was perusing the discounted books near the cash registers when I saw a middle-aged or slightly older lady who I immediately recognized. And despite a better than average memory, I could not in that instant remember her name or from where I knew her. However, being a true Southern gentleman I smiled at her and proceeded to do what my friend Jackie Collins (not the author) calls ‘Magnolia Mouthing’. This is when you are trying to butter someone up or cover up the fact that can’t remember who someone is, so your accent gets thickah and thickah like a magnolia blossom has fallen out of your mouth. Where your sugahs and darlins takeover your vocabulary and you just talk ‘em right to death so they can’t get a word in edgewise. In other words, you’re trying to Out-Scarlet, Miss O’Hara herself.
I proceeded to Magnolia Mouth this poor woman with an, “Oh gosh, it’s so good to see you; how you been? How’s your fam’ly? Are you lookin’ foah a great book? I can recommend sumthin’. Fannie Flagg? Eudora? That fussy ol' Faulkner? How’s life treatin’ you honey? You look just wuuunderful. I’ll be sure to remember you to my fam’ly, if you say Hey to yours for me. Gotta go. Huuuuugs!” She looked somewhat startled and slightly panic-stricken as I hurried away. I just assumed she was as shocked to see me in the nation’s capital as I was to see her.
And I did that because at no point in the entire conversation could I remember who she was and I didn’t need her to ask me something that I wouldn’t know. I didn’t want to be embarrassed and didn’t want her to be embarrassed thinking I didn’t know who she was. My mother wouldn’t necessarily have appreciated what I did, but I think she would have approved of my intentions.
So, I buy my discount books and I’m sitting on the subway headed home when somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain a neuron fired and straight to the front of my mind flew an image of this same woman with a headline above it. In that moment I realized I had just verbally accosted Harriet Miers, who, if you remember, was White House Counsel under Dubya Bush and was the Supreme Court nominee who withdrew her own nomination after a public outcry.
Did I mention I have never met this woman at any point during my time in DC? Yep. I’m that guy. And so, to my Southern brethren and sistrethen, I apologize for the Miers’ family of Northern Virginia firmly believing that all Southerners are insane; polite, but insane. Although, if we’re being honest, that’s not too far from the truth.
But that’s all I’m saying for now, huuuny.