Friday’s Weekend Column
Things Are Different Down Here

by James Glaser
October 21, 2005

I never thought moving down South would be so interesting. I figured there would be changes in the way people did things. I knew that the weather would be a big change, but there is so much more I never considered.

Bugs! There are big bugs down here, with lots of legs and hard bodies. I was working in the studio the other day and a bug flew in, and I thought it was a humming bird. It had that sound, it almost had the size, but it was way ugly.

Flowers and flowering shrubs are different too. It is going to take me a while to learn what is what, when they bloom, and how to care for them. I look at trees and have no idea what they are. Some of them look naked, as they have no bark on their trunk or big limbs. Many have some sort of fruit or nut, but again I am on the learning curve with them too.

People! People are way different down here too. In Northome, if an African American came to town, people would point him or her out to their young children, because chances are they have never seen a black person before. I have seen a parent introduce their child to some traveling African American, and saw the look of surprise when they were told that this child had only seen their race on television and the movies. Northern Minnesota is pretty much White and Red. Lots of Indian Reservations. The only Black people up there are playing basketball on scholarship at community colleges. I think that is so the college qualifies for money, as they need some sort of diversity. Down here, I would have guessed it is about 50% black, but I looked it up, and here in Tallahassee it is 31% black.

When I was living down in the South West, I was always interested in the cars that Mexicans customized. They had low-riders with welded chain steering wheels, pink or purple little cloth balls going around the inside, lighted wheel wells, and hydraulic kits, so they could make the front and sometimes the rear of the car hop up and down.

Down here the White Red Necks, have big four wheel drive trucks with 6" lift kits, big tires that stick out past the fenders, loud pipes, and a Confederate flag in the back window or a flag decal on the bumper.

Black people will take a four door nondescript car, paint it a really strange metallic color - maybe a yellow/green or a purple/red. Real nice paint jobs with lots of flashy metal flakes in the paint. Then they put on huge chrome wheels with spinner hubcaps that still spin when the car comes to a stop. The tires are tiny with what looks like 4 inch side walls. This tire and wheel look, makes a 15 inch tire look 20 inches.

Strange though, I heard way more really loud rap music up north with the bass speakers you could hear a block away. I expected to hear that a lot down here, but seldom do.

All in all though, people are people. Instead of lutefisk dinners, they have barbeque. Just like in Minnesota, I have met many really nice people, and I have met some real jerks. I still am having problems understanding what some people are saying. They talk way too fast, too low, and they are using words I never have heard before. So, I am taking informal language classes, on how to speak Southern. Uff da!

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