A Southerner could carry on a conversation with a tree stump. Some would argue that we're born with the gift of gab. Even if that's true, it's a skill that must be nurtured. That’s why it’s never too early to teach our kids how to improve conversation skills. We gave a shout-out to our Facebook Brain Trust and asked them to share their favorite ways to keep up the dialogue. Here’s what they said—tell us what we missed:
- Know the full scope, meanings, and inflections of “bless your heart.”
- Always lead with, “How’s your mama'n'em?” You won’t have to think of anything else to say for at least an hour.
- You can’t go wrong with, “How’s your new grand-baby doing?”
- It’s always good to ask the man of the house about any taxidermy on display.
- It’s always good to ask the lady of the house about any family photographs on display.
- “Mama told me you graduated from [INSERT COLLEGE ALMA MATER HERE.] I’ve always wondered what it would be like to go there.”
- No matter what the church hostesses serve you in the fellowship hall, tell them it looks delicious and then go for the closer: “I’ll bet Mama would love to have this recipe.”
- At a potluck, tell one of the good sisters her casserole is delicious, then sit back and wait for stories about how Great-Aunt Thelma passed it down and how the preacher in 1960 recommended it for the church cookbook and how everyone in Clay County has been asking for the recipe ever since.
- Yes, ma’am; no, ma’am; please and thank you. Also, gush over gifts, whether you like them or not.
- Speaking of pretending, act fascinated with Papaw’s favorite story, even if this is the gazillionth time you’ve heard it. (It’s the one about that time all his cows got out on a Sunday morning and the churchyard at First Baptist was covered with Holsteins when preaching let out.)
- “Do you remember any summers hotter than this one?” (Anybody over 40 will LOVE telling you about many summers hotter than this one.)
- Stick to conversation about food and family, never politics—unless you’re itchin’ for a fight.
- When Southerners say, “We wish you’d stay for supper,” we don’t really mean it. What we really wish is that you’d get on home so we can eat. Remember that, kids, when you’re the visitor.
- In the event of an awkward silence, lob this one out there: “Now, has your family always lived in [INSERT STATE HERE]?” This one works especially well in Texas.
- And if all else fails: “Who do you like for the Sugar Bowl this season?”
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