I love to watch people.
Art Linkletter used to host a television show that proclaimed, “People are funny!” and they are.
Wait a minute. Before you waste your time sending me an e-mail that I won’t read anyway, telling me that Linkletter hosted “Kids say the Darndest Things,” that’s true, too. It was a segment on his TV show, “House Party.” But he wasn’t a one-trick pony.
I have had the chance to watch a lot of people in a lot of places this summer. Remember that old song “‘mid pleasures and palaces, though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”
And there isn’t. There is no place like the American South, and there are no people like Southern people, and I have missed my fellow Southerners for the past few months. Let me tell you why.
We are truly friendly. I am so sick of dealing with maître d’s and servers and other people who are friendly to you because their pay and job evaluation depend on it. You can tell, too. It ain’t that way down South. Down South true Southerners are just plain friendly folk. We wave at you and bless your heart if it needs blessing and ask you about your mama an’ ‘em because we care and because we were brought up that way, not because it is part of our job training.
And you can tell those who are living amongst us who aren’t Southerners, too.
I love people. I love folks. I never meet a stranger, much to my lovely wife, Lisa’s dismay, and I strike up conversations everywhere I go with people from every walk of life and I had rather talk to the guy who sweeps up than the CEO of the company. I was talking to a guy in Estonia last week who told me that he had hitchhiked all across America in 2001 and he said, “The South-er I go the friendlier America got.”
People dress funny these days.
I flew on an airplane fewer than 10 times the first 55 years of my life. I have made about 50 take-offs and landings this year.
It used to be that folks got all dressed up to fly — and go to church — and to the theater. Not anymore. Anything goes.
A girl got on a plane and sat down beside me in New York City Sunday. She was wearing her pajamas. She was bigger girl than the people in China who made her pajamas intended them to be worn by. She spilled out of them, in other words. It was like putting 12 pounds of potatoes in a 10-pound bag. And I know that her pajamas were made in China because she was wearing them inside out with the label on the outside. She had on her bedroom slippers, too. Scuffs we used to call them. On a plane. Traveling from New York to Houston, Texas.
Actually, she was trying to travel to Oklahoma City, but missed her connection. I know this to be true because she told me every 10 minutes for four-and-a-half hours that she was going to Oklahoma City and was going to miss her connection.
People think funny, these days, too.
I heard a human being say, for instance, at the table beside me at a restaurant just this morning, “I don’t eat meat because it is just not fair that animals be killed for the pleasure of human beings.” She was wearing a pair of suede pants and leather cowboy boots (I am currently in Houston, Texas) and confided to her companion that she had just had her third abortion.
She ain’t going to have a hamburger though, because we are exploiting cows. Art Linkletter wasn’t just whistling Dixie, was he?
I also overheard a grandmother say that she was taking her grandchild out of school the second week of September to visit Disney World when there weren’t any crowds. She said she used to go during the long breaks the school offers but there were just too many people then.
I bet that grandmother is the first in line to complain when her darling grandchild doesn’t make honor roll or get into the school she wants to attend.
Yes, people are funny, and we have distinct regional and cultural differences. But we are still all more alike than different. We all want basically the same things in life. We want food and clothing — even if it’s pajamas on a plane instead of the Master’s logo shirt that I was wearing — and we want a nice place to live and we want to be loved and accepted.
“C’est la vie.” Such is life.
I’m a little tired of trying to save the world from itself. I think I will kick back for a little while and let everybody be. Just give me some grits for breakfast and sweet tea with my supper and don’t bother me on Saturdays until football season is over, and we’ll be tight.