Saturday, February 18, 2012

Flash Fiction: "A Pitcher Of Good Iced Tea"

It's rare that I write anything regional whatsoever. More often than not, I don't even have a particular setting for my shorter pieces. But this little story, or travelogue if you will, is distinctly Southern in flavor. Hope you enjoy reading it.


If you want to be a Southerner's best friend, there are just a few things you must remember. First of all, never refuse our hospitality – it's one of the things we're known for. Second, never be surprised if we are inhospitable – we are, after all, human too. Third, learn the correct meaning of and try to acquire a taste for grits. Fourth, never say "y'all" or "ain't" around us if you'd never say it away from us – we don't like to be patronized. And fifth, never underestimate the value of a pitcher of good iced tea.

Now, I know y'all folks up North take a fancy to hot tea, hot coffee, hot chocolate, and all kinds of other hot stuff. I reckon it's because you need something warm to heat you up from all that cold weather you have. But when you're down here, you'll find things a bit warmer and a bit more leisurely. And there's nothing much sweeter on a hot, leisurely day than a tall glass of iced tea.

It doesn't have to be sweet to taste good – although many of us like it that way. Some folks prefer their tea unsweetened, while others have to have it that way – you know, for health reasons. But any way you fix it is just fine, as long as it's nice and cold.

Rare is the occasion that you won't find a pitcher of iced tea (or two, or twenty) present, whether it's a fellowship supper, ladies' auxiliary, town meeting, or political rally. The fact of the matter is, iced tea is as much a part of the South as the way we drawl our words, the way we never forget our past, and the precious time we spend doing nothing.

I reckon you folks don't have much time for "doing nothing" up there in the big cities and metropolitan areas – all work, no play, so they say. We work too, and hard – we wouldn't eat if we didn't – but play is very important to us, too. We take the time to enjoy the day as well as make productive use out of it. And at the end of a full day of work and play, nothing soothes the soul like good iced tea. We can easily polish off a pitcher in a single night.

Now, don't think we look down on y'all for choosing not to drink your tea cold. But, as the saying goes, don't knock it till you've tried it. You just might be surprised.

As for the other things, well... You can probably go your whole life and never know what grits are – though I wouldn't recommend it. And you can even pretend you know how to properly use the words "ain't" and "y'all" – we won't rag you too hard about it. But please don't come here and tell us we don't know how to drink our tea. We do – we just do it on our own special way.

So next you're down this way, for visiting, for business, or (if you're real lucky or real smart) for relocating, be sure to bring a healthy appetite – we'll feed you good – and an unquenchable thirst. We've got just the thing for it.

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