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Urban Etiquette: Southern Gentility in a Southern Yet Northern City

by Borderstan.com June 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm 5 Comments

From Fox Deatry. Email him at fox[AT]borderstan.com.

"Southern"

DC is to the south of the North, but in reality is a Northern city. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Now that DC Pride is over and the studs of Nellie’s could finally revert back to eating solid food without worrying about flabs on the parade float, I couldn’t help but wonder about the fascinating crowd that this town attracts.

As it seems, Southern ‘Homo’ Sapiens look at DC as though it is the Emerald City — a promised land of sorts with less prejudice and no Piggly Wigglies.

Now you would think that these cornbread-fed studs would bring their Southern gentility into this city. But after sheer observation, their transformation from a Fiddle-Dee-Dee to a Yankee Doodle Gal seems to have taken a bad turn in the spirit of fitting in.

Now, in my continuing public service, it is my duty to point out proper urban-DC etiquette that will certainly make our new residents fit in while not sticking out… in a bad way.

  1. The humidity levels might be the same, Robert E. Lee might be occasionally mentioned, but DC is more Northern than Southern whatever the Mason-Dixon Line says. This certainly brings more diversity, so my best advice is exposure — not indecent, the cultural kind. Check out the ethnic restaurants along 14th Street. Expanding your food palette makes you look more sophisticated. Besides, knowing these places makes you a sudden cultural attaché and it would impress certain dates.
  2. Carrie Bradshaw might have said love and labels, but I have to disagree with the latter. Wearing labels is fine if you’re earning dough from it. So boys, please tuck away those Abercrombie shirts with ‘Abercrombie’ on them. It doesn’t make you look fashionable, it makes you fashion road kill — opossum style.
  3. I know you want to be Metro Weekly’s cover boy — after all, that attracts more tail — but, sweetie darling, please don’t be on every photo-op for every DC event. It makes you an attention wh*** (bleep). Now, there are exceptions: if it is good for tourism, shores up the economy and lowers the unemployment rate then it’s acceptable.
  4. Washingtonians love to drink, as evidence of the many bars that line U and 14th Streets. We even have a place of worship dedicated to such (check Church Key). But when you get invited to a party, my advice is to leave that bottle of Moonshine at home. Go to Whole Foods or Trader Joes and check out a nice bottle of white wine. Vines from Napa and Southern America attract positive attention.
  5. This is no longer that massive Tara Plantation you are used to inhabitating. Space is a luxury. This brings me to bikes. Urban etiquette calls for biking on to those narrow, taxpayer-funded lanes. And it ‘ain’t fittin’ if you are not wearing those helmets. In the subway, remember to stay on the right side of the escalator if you will be idled to let those busy, oh-so-late folks rush to their K Street jobs (eye-roll). For driving, keep away from Dupont Circle. It’s more confusing than the first time you started liking boys. It is best to drive there early, early morning when only rodents are present – that way you can familiarize yourself with those one-way streets. Remember, a wrong turn in this city will make you end up in Virginia.

These are only a few rules. But my best advice to Southern boys is to never lose that gentility — maybe the parasol and the ivory mittens, which you can save for the annual Halloween Drag Queen Race. Regardless, this town needs politeness, and if that isn’t the case today then maybe tomorrow.

After all, tomorrow is another day.

This column first ran June 12, 2012.

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Comments (5)

  1. “Vines from Napa and Southern America attract positive attention.”

    “Southern America”? Are we talking Mexico, or more like Alabama?

  2. This is moronic. Do you really think the Northern or Midwestern boys who come to DC every year don’t show up doing these things? I do not understand the point of this at all? Is this a dig at Southerners? Or just newcomers? Go to Whole Foods for a nice wine selection? Seriously, this is advice?

    Here’s some advice for any newcomer: don’t listen to the tired queens who have lived here for a decade or more and pretend that DC has a “culture” of any kind. Do what you want. You’ll feel better for it.

  3. Except for the standing on the left on the escalator. That is actually a rule. But I think advice better suited for the short term visitor.

  4. So much anger. Where’s the love? It’s just a synopsis of local etiquette with a few pet peeves thrown in for good measure. Sure, it’s kind of silly but this isn’t exactly the WaPo. Chill. And please stop yelling at the tourists who stand on the left. They help the local economy a lot.

  5. Anger? No, just seems like another queen from New Jersey who moved here and thinks they know what is what.

    I don’t yell at the tourists. I just say excuse me and move around them. I’m from the South…we may dress poorly and drink moonshine, but we were at least raised with manners.

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