the same place it started up again on therntrip back north.rnWalker Percy wrote of a similar experiencernin The Last Gentleman. Wlien WillrnBarrett and Jamie headed south, theyrnwould park their camper at night in Carolinarnand stroll to a service station or fishingrncamp or grocery store, where they’drnhave a beer or fill the tank with spring waterrnor lay in eggs and country butter andrngrits and slab bacon; then back to therncamper, which they’d show off to thernstorekeeper, he ruminating a minuternand: all I got to say is, don’t walk off andrnleave the keys in it—and so on in therncomplex Southern tactic of assaying arnsort of running start, a joke before thernjoke, ten assimiptions shared and a commonrnstance of rhetoric and a wholernshared set of special ironies and opposites.rnHe was home. Even though he wasrnhundreds of miles from home and hadrnnever been here and it was not even thernsame here —it was older and more decorous,rnmore tended to and a dream withrnthe past—he was home.rnSo I finished mv studies in New York,rnshook the Northern dust from my feet,rnand moNcd just in hme for my first childrnto get “Durham, North Carolina” on herrnbirth cerfificate—important to me, if notrnto her.rnBut now I look around and find thatrnthe North seems to have followed me.rnOur town and those nearby, like Hillsborough,rnhave recently been floodedrnwith immigrants seeking economic opportunity,rngracious living, and yearroundrngolf I don’t blame them. Butrnplease don’t blame me for being less thanrn\ ild about this development.rnNortherners are nothing new in thesernparts, and in small numbers they used tornprovide a pleasant leaven. Some of themrnworked at fitting in (which isn’t all thatrnhard), many more adopted a becomingrndiffidence, and even the ones who remainedrndefiantly Yankee offered a stimulatingrncounterpoint to the prevailing,rneasygoing ways. But there was no questionrnwhose region we were in.rnSometime recently, though, werncrossed a tipping point that’s as easy tornrecognize as it is hard to define. Therernare now so many newcomers that they’rernno longer just the seasoning in the stew;rnthey’ve become a lumpy ingredient inrntheir own right, one that shows no signsrnof dissolving. People from places likernOhio and Michigan are moving intornneighborhoods full of other people fromrnOhio and Michigan, and they all gorndown and get the New York Times onrnSunday. Flannery O’Connor liked to tellrna story about an Atlanta real-estate salesmanrnshowing a migrant couple around.rn”You’ll like this neighborhood,” he says.rn”There’s not a Southerner for miles.” Irnused to find that funnier than I do now.rnNo offense. Northern folks, but I likernthe South because it’s full of Southerners.rnYou all are fine people, but yournmake me tired. I came here to be withrnpeople I don’t have to explain things to,rnyou understand? People who share myrnviews about things like squirrels.rnWe’ve almost reached the pointrnaround here where Southerners are thernones who have to worry about fitting in.rnOne of our students, a local boy, complainedrnrecently in the college paper thatrnpeople are always coming up to him andrnsaying “I just love to hear you talk.” “Let’srnget one thing straight,” he wrote, “we arernin the South. Therefore, I do not havernthe accent.” Besides, it’s impolite: “If wernwere sitting around the beach house inrnCape Cod discussing clam chowdah orrnUncle Joe’s haht cahndishen, I wouldn’trnstand up and say, ‘Hot damn, von boysrnshore talk funny.’ It just wouldn’t be gentlemanlike.”rnWhat really bugged him,rnthough, is what bugs me: “There’s somethingrnabout having to defend my regionrnwhen I’m still in it that I don’t like.”rnStudents aside. Chapel Hill looksrnmore and more like Princeton these da’s.rnSome people think that’s fine, and not allrnof them are from New Jersey either. Ourrnlocal realtors apparently love what’s goingrnon, and even some people who aren’trnmaking any money off of it seem to havernbought the view that it’s impolite to complainrnabout the increasing presence ofrnunassimilated Northerners.rnNot long ago a reporter from the CharlotternObserver asked what I thought aboutrnthe fact that someone can live in thernSouth now and never have to come tornterms with it. I told her I thought it was arnshame. Soon thereafter, my long-sufferingrndepartment chairman got a telephonerncall from an irate reader, a nati’ernNorth Carolinian (she said) who objectedrnto my opinions or, an-wa\ to mv expressingrnthem. She insisted that I wasrn”still fighting the Civil War” and demandedrnthat he fire me. When he wearilyrntold her that it’s too late, since I haverntenure, she said she’d take her case to thernpresident of the university and to the governor,rnif necessary.rnNow, I’m not worried about that; bothrnof those worthies are adept at dealingrnwith cranks, as I have reason to know,rnhaving dealt with them in that capacit’rnmyself. And there’s a nice irony to knowingrnthat the last member of my departmentrnwhose head was demanded by angryrncitizens was a gendeman and scholarrnwhose offense was believing 50 years agornthat black folks were entitled to be treatedrnlike human beings and American citizens.rnBut let’s think about that accusafion:rnstill fighting the Civil War.rnNon-Southerners are never accused ofrnthat, no matter what they say about thernSouth. Neither are Southerners whornmake it clear that thev prefer the Northernrnway. You get charged with that offensernif and only if you are a Southernerrnwho would like to see the South stayrnSouthern. And it’s a sorr- fact that therncharge is often filed by other Southerners,rnlike my accuser. Some of us like tornjoke about suburban Washington beingrn”Occupied Virginia,” but let me tell yournit’s no fun living in Vichy, North Carolina,rneither.rnLook, I don’t want to impose Southernrnways on the world; I just want to hang onrnto them in the South. I don’t think thatrnone Princeton is too many, just that onernis enough. I even feel that way about California:rnI’m glad it’s out there, for all sortsrnof reasons. If the Creat Wen, D.C., werernjust another unpleasant East Coast c i t y -rnwhy, I’d say let it be. It’s like food: whenrnI go to New England, I want to eatrnbroiled scrod and Indian pudding; I justrndon’t want them on every menu downrnhere, that’s all. And I think it would bernnice if New Englanders in these partsrnwould eat Brunswick stew and okra, or atrnleast keep their opinions about Southernrnfood to themselves.rnIf that’s still fighting the Civil W a r -rnmake the most of it.rnJohn Shehon Reed writes from ChapelrnHill, North Carolina, which he says NewrnYorkers will find a great place to visit, butrnthey wouldn’t want to live there. This articlernfirst appeared in the May 1988 issue.rnlULY 2001/37rnrnrn