I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Well Bless Your Heart!

Well Bless Your Heart!

Maura O’Kiely
Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice. The Good Wife’s Guide (1955) Place a pillow over his head and hold it there until he promises to do at least one household chore a month. Celia Riverbark, Bless Your Heart, Tramp: And Other Southern Endearments (2006) My husband fell in love with a creative woman. “Creative” is Southern Lady Code for slob. Helen Ellis, Southern Lady Code (2019) Florence King, in her bestselling Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady, writes vividly of her years on her grandmother’s “anvil”. Disappointed but not too discouraged by having failed to chisel her own daughter into a lady, Granny had set her sights on the young Florence or ‑ as she saw the infant ‑ a fledgling Southern belle. Over three decades she tirelessly instructed her granddaughter in how to be perfectly put together, have nice manners, ooze charm and ignore anything unpleasant; the importance of good silver, fine china and place settings were hammered home; the delights of crochet versus the downsides of book-reading and the life-or-death importance of writing thank-you notes were regularly noted; as was – cue ominous tone ‑ the certain fate that awaited the girl who Went Too Far. So did all those years in Granny’s hot forge pay off? Some of that Southern code stuck, but not as much as the older woman might have hoped. “Whether she succeeded in making a lady out of me is for you to decide,” King wrote years later in the prologue to her memoir, “but I will say one thing in my own favor before we begin. No matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked on the street.” To the uninitiated, the women who hail from south of the Mason-Dixon line come in a bewildering range. Even social anthropologists have their work cut out trying to decipher the stereotypes, the subgroups, their mores and, oh my blessed Lord, those extreme good manners; that ability to pour Southern charm over just about anything. For fictional belles, usually stock characters straight from central casting, think of feisty Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind; the impetuous Julie Marsden, played by Bette Davis in Jezebel; fragile Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire and desperate Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie. Many present-day Southern women still take their antebellum credentials very seriously indeed, though others do not. For…



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