each other, but that’s about all,” a kidnfrom Illinois told the paper. “It’s a verynsuperficial friendliness.”nSome northerners who have figurednthis out like it anyway. A graduate artnstudent from Boston observed thatnSoutherners’ greater friendlinessn”works two ways.” “Some of them arenfriendly,” he said, “and some of themnare but really aren’t. It’s just sort of anpoliteness.” But, he added, “that’s finenbecause it makes things easier anyway.”nA Massachusetts businessman, recallingnthe years he spent in the South,nagreed. “A lot of northerners thoughtnthe Southerners’ friendliness wasnphony — saccharine, sugar-coated,” hensaid. “But I didn’t care. I’d rathernpeople be nice to me than not nice. Ifnyou’re going to be the new person inntown, the South is a good place tonland.”nBut a few transplants seem to benreally annoyed by what they see as ournlack of integrity. A department-storenexecutive relocated to Georgia fromnOhio complained that Southern graciousnessn”does not come across asnpoliteness but insincerity.” And anwoman from Philadelphia told a NorthnCarolina journalist, “It’s all epitomizednby the neo-Southern Bitch. She dressesnso damned cute. Who’s she think she’snfooling? It’s all just fluff, and flirt, andnmanipulation.” The journalist, anSoutherner, commented that there wasn”definitely no fluff” to this woman.n”She would not flirt or manipulate: saynthe wrong thing, and she’d simply ripnyour ears off.”nBut she may just have resented thenresponse of northern men to “fluff,nflirt, and manipulation.” Most like it. AnBoston boy, for instance, said thatnSouthern coeds are “a lot morenrefreshing. . . . Down here they havena sweeter image and I like that.” Angraduate student from St. Louis addednthat Southern college women “don’tncome on as hard. They’re much lessnaggressive in their relationships.”nBy and large, northern women tendnto like the manners and style of Southernnmen, too. A pharmacy studentnfrom New Jersey told the student papernthat “Southern guys are morenpolite and they’re more apt to do thingsnlike hold open doors. I enjoy it. I’mnliberated but I’m not going to getnpi—ed off- if some guy holds the doornopen for me.” A student from Pennsylvanianagreed, adding, “They don’tnseem to forget that you’re a woman,nand that’s nice.” (Well, maybe, but anlitfle later the same woman was sayingnthat “men are much more chauvinisticnin the South.”)nOutside the South, though. Southernnmanners can get you in trouble.nLast year I was talking to a couple ofnfriends on a corner at DuPont Circle,nin Washington, when a sorry-lookingnblack wino edged up to us and stoodnthere, not saying a word. My friends,ncity boys, ignored him. I tried to, butnfinally I just couldn’t stand pretendingnthat the guy simply . . . wasn’t there,nso I made eye contact, knowing perfecflynwell that it was a mistake.n”Excuse me, sir,” he said, “but cannyou help a homeless individual?” (InnD.C. even the bums use the approvedneuphemisms.)nWell, the “excuse me, sir” did it.nThis guy’s mama had raised him right.nHis manners (and mine) scored himnmy pocket change.nHe and I understood each othernperfectly well, but more often problemsnarise because of misunderstanding.nIn Southern Ladies and Gentlemen,nfor instance, Florence Kingnwrites about the trials of a Southernnwoman in New York:nWhen you rattle off a standardnSouthern thank-you — “Oh,nyou’re just so nice, I don’t knownwhat I’d do without you!” thenNorthern man believes you Henbelieves you so much that henfollows you home.nI know what she means. I’ve actuallynhad a similar experience. On an internationalnflight a couple of years ago, I’dnbeen talking with a cute little Japanese-nAmerican flight attendant, and wasnstartled to be asked for my phonennumber. Now, all I’d done was chatn(honest). I didn’t want to be rude, butnI’m happily married, so I just made upna number.nBesides, he wasn’t my type — whichnis female, for starters. (Sorry. Couldn’tnresist telling it that way.)nAnyway, these days more and morenSoutherners have to deal with non-nSoutherners, and being misunderstoodnmay in time make us as curt, abrupt,nand no-nonsense as New Yorkers.nBut that would be a shame. Ournmanners have served us well, and notnjust by making everyday dealings withnstrangers more pleasant. As W.J. Cashnrecognized fifty years ago, in ThenMind of the South, manners are onenreason the “yoke” of class hasn”weighed but lightly” in these parts.nMore about this next month.nJohn Shelton Reed will be interviewednon the public radio programn”Soundings” the week of January 12.n”Not since James Agee and Robert Penn Warrennhas a southern writer displayed such masterful versatility.”n—Los Angeles TimesnLrrea GnappelinMiore Q^napes Jnan OnenAliB OOK OF STORI ‘Elsn”Marvelous renditions—sometimes exuberant,nsometimes meditative, arcane or antic…as circular as Borges, as richlynsymbolic as Kafka, and as zany as Woody Allen.”n—Kirkus Reviewsn”A Southern writer whose baroque, eloquent style pays little heednto minimalist trends. Chappell’s writing is in the tradition ofnAmbrose Bierce and H.P. Lovecraft.”n—Publishers WeeklynST. M A R T I N ‘ S P R E S Sn175 Fitth Ave., New York 10010nnnJANUARY 1992/43n