My brother suffered a blow when I inquired about his grits preferences.
I’m not taking offense to it or anything like that. I have my own quirks about tea. (Only prisoners doing hard time should have to drink hot tea, unsweetened tea or, heaven forbid, old tea. Anyone who doesn’t originate from a town of 8,000 people or less located below the Mason-Dixon and above the Georgia-Florida line should be prohibited from bringing tea to the covered-dish dinner.)
If you think that last sentence harsh, then you don’t know nothin’. You don’t know what my brother started over one little question about grits. Southerners are ruthless when it comes to grits.
The brother of whom I speak relocated to Newark, N.J., a short train ride from New York City, and has made himself at ease there for a year. I expect he misses the kinder, gentler ways and foods of his roots. When my oldest son went to visit my brother in July, I offered to send along a taste of home. Since a Sonic peanut butter and bacon milkshake would not survive the plane flight, I asked what else he might like.
“Grits,” was my brother’s reply. Grits are in short supply in that region of the country. Though the oversight should be a humiliation to grocers, it is not. Some people just want to go to hell.
Appreciating how modernization has affected our nation, and not holding anyone at fault for falling in stride with the hurry-up generation, I clarified with my brother whether he sought delivery of instant grits or original.
Mind you, I in no way implied that he is any less southern since moving to the vile Northeast, nor did I accuse him of forgetting his good breeding. I know the man to be as hardheaded as his sister and therefore not easily overcome by outside influences. I only posed the question as a matter of manners and conscientiousness for my fellow man and dear brother. My motives were pure.
“I think it’s distasteful that you would even ask me that,” he sharply reprimanded.
I begged forgiveness and assured him that my son would arrive at JFK Airport with grits in hand. I sent two containers, in fact, to soften the blow of my assumptions. I requested, “Let’s not mention my gaffe to anyone. I’ll be mortified and ruined. I’d about die.”
The next thing I know, after his assurances to the contrary, our entire conversation was posted on Facebook. The only grace was that he did not disclose my identity.
You won’t believe this – or maybe you will – but threats against my person ensued.
The mention of instant grits stirred deep unrest amongst his Facebook friends. Primal urges toward violence surged. One commenter expressed interest in punching me in the face.
Fearing for my safety, I posted my own comment to throw off any suspicions that it was I who dared traverse the ignoble topic of instant grits, let alone offer them to someone I love.
“Shameful,” I typed. “She will be shunned from respectable social circles to be sure.”
I did not anticipate the inflammatory effect of my words. The next person to post wanted the guilty party’s address so she could “teach that person (me!) what’s what.”
For the record, before the Southern Mafia arrives on my doorstep to snuff me, I’d like to remind my big-city brother where he comes from. He was born in the land of chivalry, Christian values and family loyalty. My blood will be on his hands if he tells a single soul that I sent him two packages of Quaker grits.
(Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. She lives in Thomson. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)