Ann Ipock: Ipock-a-Lips - Hey! We Southerners say it like we mean it

  • Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lucky me! I get to meet new folks and sometimes make new, lasting friendships during my book signings.
We often discuss where we’re from or where we grew up. As a Southern writer, I’m always listening out for Southernisms, as I call them — whether it’s a new word that I’ve never heard of, or a new take on an old word. This recently happened, when I met a new friend named Lori (a native North Carolinian) and the greeting “Hey!” was discussed.

Last Saturday I had a book signing at an Open House (hosted by the new owner, Andrea) at Uptown Market Antiques and Uncommon Goods, in Wilmington, N.C. It was a swanky affair — we’re talking noon to 8 p.m. with heavy hors d’oeuvres and champagne punch served during the first half. Then, a new course and more heavy hors d’oeuvres, along with wine and champagne served during the second half. And all day long — cake. I mean, who doesn’t love cake? And y’all, once again, I met some of the most interesting people.

But the one who really stood out that day was Lori, whom I pegged as Jessica Chastain’s double in the movie, “The Help.” Lori looked so much like her — she also had her energy and spunk. She was wearing a sophisticated black-and-white floral printed frock that fell just-so against her slim body, a pink cashmere sweater with pearl buttons, and black patent leather heels which completed this perfect fashion ensemble. Lori was feminine, fun and poised — the epitome of a Southern belle. Being around her, I felt like I was in that movie. But she swore that’s not her usual attire: seven days a week, she said, she’s in jeans, a tee shirt and sneakers, refinishing furniture and scouting the countryside for more fixer-uppers. We just hit it off.

Of course, I instantly loved her when she told me she’d been buying my books for years for various friends. Sure enough, when we moved here seven years ago, a darling boutique stocked them, but they’ve since closed. She later found them in various other places and continued to give them to her girlfriends because they’re “girlfriend books,” she said. Gosh, how I love that compliment. She opened up one book and started reading her favorite column that day. I can’t tell you how special that makes an author feel.

We get along so well that we’ve already planned lunch this week. We’ve discussed more in the last three days (via e-mail, plus hours and hours in the shop on Saturday) than most friends discuss in a year. We both love to read, love to cook and garden, have opinions on everything and don’t sit still — meaning, we stay busy. And we like it that way. Oh, and I thought my mama had cliches. Well, Lori may have her beat.

But here’s our take on “Hey!” during recent e-mails and how Southerners, especially, love to say it.

Her first note to me began, “Guess who…”

My subsequent note began, “Hey, Lori,”

Her next note read, “Hey again...don't you just love that word!?? When somebody says ‘Hey!’, you know they come from the right part of the world.”

And y’all, that is just one reason I find her fascinating. She thinks of things in terms I’ve never thought of. I like that. Shoot.
This tiny brain of mine needs to be stretched and enlightened.

So this was my latest reply to her:

“I do like the greeting, ‘Hey!’ It's funny, but we Southern women can say it in about a hundred different ways, too. It can be anywhere from one syllable to four, high-pitched or low, soft or screaming, depending on the situation.”

But one situation will always stand out in my mind about saying, “Hey!” My niece was a bridesmaid in her best friend’s wedding. Now, the bride—being the most gregarious girl in the world, and being such a loving person — showed her affection to the five-hundred-or-so guests in attendance in this way: when the organist began to play “Trumpet Voluntary in D Major,” Meredith took a deep breath, wrapped her arm inside her father’s arm, and with her free arm, lifted it to wave — if ever so demurely — and quietly said, over and over, “Hey!” looking left and then right, waving and walking all the way down the aisle to the front of the church.
Isn’t that darling? And yes, she’s Southern.

Ann Ipock – “Life is Short, I Wish I Was Taller” amipock@ec.rr.com www.annipock.com

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