i speak southern

I'm a New Yorker, born and raised. A total Yankee. And then I up and moved to rural Africa. I've certainly gotten used to small-town country living, but I still chuckle (with a disbelieving shake of my head) as I drive by fields of hay bales, herds of naked sheep, or rogue cows on my way to buy groceries. The irony of my life never ceases to surprise me.

And now, here I am, spending an extended period of time in America. And even more shocking than this indoor girl moving to Africa, is this Yankee taking up residence in the dirty south. No offense intended. Alas, I find myself living in Hotlanta.

And my brother Andrew finds it a bit comical.

Just yesterday, he was teasing me about living in the south. Joking about southern accents, he blurted out a phrase that's at the heart of a Ronzino family joke---"Djoo-waaanna-sukka?" And I couldn't help but laugh at the memory.

When I was in high school, we drove to Georgia to visit friends who live in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. Needless to say, everywhere we went, we stuck out like the loud Italian New Yorkers we are. ("Oh yeah, you blend.")

One day we stopped in some little country store in some little country town. The shop owner was a bubbly old woman in a floral dress, her long hair tied up in a bun. Andrew looked up at her with a polite smile when she approached him. He was only, I don't know, maybe 8 or 9 years old at the time.

"Djoo-waaanna-sukka?" she asked.

Andrew just stared at her, wide-eyed.

"Djoo-waaanna-sukka?" she asked again.

Andrew's forced smile got even bigger. He had no idea what she was saying.

The woman was probably getting a little flustered, but of course her southern hospitality wouldn't let her show her annoyance. Bless her heart. She patted Andrew's cheek and mumbled something about how cute he was. And then she asked again.


Andrew glanced over at mom and dad for assistance, but they looked just as confused as he did. Clearly, it was time for me to step in and help.

"Andrew, she's asking if you want a lollipop."

"Oohhhhh! Yes please," Andrew responded, with a "Why didn't she just say that?!" look on his face. The woman promptly handed him a sucker lollipop.

We had a good laugh about it on the phone yesterday. And then Andrew ended with, "I guess you'll do okay down there. You always knew how to understand Southern."