Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Chapter 45: In which our blogger gets all mushy-like


Megan at By and By, by way of explaining why the Nordstrom bra lady felt sorry for her, invokes the phrase “bless your heart,” and explains its cultural implications:
"Bless your heart," for my readers in The North, is what Southern women say to indicate that they feel sorry for you. Most of the time, they really do feel sorry for you and "bless your heart" is a genuine expression of sympathy. Some women, however, use "bless your heart" to disguise bitchiness. As in, "You look like you've gained about 50 pounds, bless your heart."
"Bless your heart" had a similar meaning where I grew up. Once, when I was about 8 years old and living in a very rural area outside of Marion, Indiana, I slid down a hill on the way home from the Jalapa general store (buying penny candy - natch!), punctured an artery in my leg on a piece of broken glass, and then nearly bled out as I ran at least a mile trying to find someone to help me. In fact, I heard many days later from my mother that there was much buzz in the area about wild animals, as neighbors sought an explanation for the trails of blood leading up to and away from their front doors.

Finally, I encountered a former army medic (just home from Vietnam) who was working in his garage. He bandaged my leg up tight, called my mom, and carried me to the car when she arrived. My girlfriend very helpfully screamed during the entire ordeal.

Later that day, when my mom finally got me home from the hospital, she asked me what on earth I was doing sliding down a hill instead of staying on the road as she had instructed me to do. I thought I was in for a world of hurt after all the trouble I had caused, and I started to cry. I explained to her that I saw some brown-eyed susans blooming at the top of the hill, and just I wanted to pick them for her.

Brown-eyed susans had a special meaning to us as she used to tell me, when I wore my favorite yellow dress, that I looked just like a brown-eyed susan.

Well, of course I was not in trouble. She just shook her head in that Mom way and said, "Well, bless your heart."

Funny, the things from your childhood you remember. But then, I do have an almost perfectly square half-inch scar on my ankle to remind me.

9 comments:

Chris said...

My hoosier-kin (Crown Point)are also big on saying "bless your heart". Neat story, by the way.

GETkristiLOVE said...

Mom still says that phrase.

Bro said...

I remembered that verbatim down to the Brown Eyed Susan.

If you click on the link http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=marion+indiana&ie=UTF8&z=17&ll=40.625606,-85.738184&spn=0.004715,0.011265&t=h&om=1
You will see the houses you ran up to just south of 500N (they call it 505N here) Idian Village and the river are to the east.

I believe that you slid down the hill right near wehere it says W505N in the center.

Bro

vikkitikkitavi said...

Chris: My mom always says "Well bless your heart," but then I think you starts every other sentence with "well."

K: You're telling me?

Bro: You're right on the money. Scary!

Megan said...

Awwwwwww. I forgot that "Bless your heart" can be downright tender.

Do the Hoosier ladies use it the bitchy way too?

Skylers Dad said...

We get a lot of "Bless his heart" comments with Skyler, cause he is cute and in a chair.

Skyler gives the old ladies his best "eat me" look, and the young cute ladies get his million dollar smile.

Honestly, I didn't teach him how to work the crowd, cause I got no game!

Pops said...

Man, you must have some wussy-ass leg arteries. Piece of glass? Lightweight.

Speaking of ass, aren't they called BLACK eye susans? Maybe it's just that I'm from California where we have no vegetation, but "brown eye" has a very specific connotation. You wouldn't run up a hill to find one. Or maybe you would, I don't know.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Megan: I feel compelled to point out, because I'm sure my mom would, that although I grew up in Indiana, my mom is a Nebraskan, so her use of the phrase is rooted in that state's culture. And yes, it is used in a bitchy way. I've also seen it used in a way that attempts to excuse the user from any further responsibility, like the time my overweight childhood pal was having a hard time getting her new pants to stay up in a public place. Her mother, who was very very skinny, and frequently obviously horrified by her daughter size, looked at her and said "Oh, bless your heart," and then WALKED AWAY, leaving my poor little chum to deal with it alone.

Cold, man.

SkyDad: It sounds like you don't need a game, as long as your babe-magnet son is with you.

Pops: In the midwest, where the Urban Dictionary isn't the arbiter of culture, they feel free to refer to the flowers as "brown-eyed" because the centers are, in fact, brown. Jaded homophobic coasties are free to make whatever adjustments they feel necessary in order to feel emotionally secure.

Grant Miller said...

You're beginning to write about your mom more than I do.