Having written a fair number of executive briefing books in my career, it’s hard for me to resist drafting briefing notes for presidential hopeful Mitt Romney as he faces important primaries in the South in a few days.
I trust he has taken a regimen of prophylactic Mylanta to secure his sensitive system from the plattersful of barbeque and hush puppies he’ll gobble along the campaign trails of Mississippi and Alabama this weekend.
He has already bragged about eating “a biscuit” and liking grits, believing this will endear him to Dixie delegates he seeks. At least he used grits, plural, after having professed his love of “sport” in Daytona, at the risk of defeating the purpose of yukking it up with the NASCAR crowd.
Romney boasted about having mastered “y’all,” as if contracting a second person plural were colloquial rocket science.
I informally canvassed cohorts in the southern states to learn what they might contribute to my fictitious briefing book. What terms must the candidate master to prove he’s southern-savvy?
One person cautioned Mr. Romney to stay far away from the Paula Deen method. Simply inserting extra syllables is only patronizing and insulting.
Some suggestions came in under what I believe is an erroneous assumption that good grammar doesn’t matter in the South: “We’re gonna win this thing, Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise” and “I need me some red eye gravy or my grits just ain’t right.” If Candidate Romney buys into these in next week’s primary elections, he might as well not come back for the general.
Some submissions I received were right out of the stereotypical Paula Deen phrase book: “I’m plumb tuckered out,” “I’m fixin’ too go down the road a piece” and “Oh my Lorward.” Most came from people who might delight in poor ol’ Mr. Romney’s taking bad advice.
When I sent out my solicitations yesterday, I was hoping to get a more esoteric glossary, containing a few of the words and phrases—actual, not stereotypical—I had to learn upon marrying into a Southern family. This page from my briefing book will help the southern gentleman from Massachusetts fit in with voters in Miss-sippi and Alabama without a single y’all.
Romney-speak: I beg your pardon?
Translation: Do what?
Romney: When you enter the voting booth on Tuesday, be sure to press the button for Mitt Romney.
Translation: When you enter the voting booth on Tuesday, be sure to mash the button for Mitt Romney.
Romney: It appears that would be so.
Translation: I reckon.
Romney: In the debates, the other candidates and I took turns addressing the issues.
Translation: In the debates, the other candidates and I took time about addressing the issues.
Romney: I’m spending my own money, so put your checkbook away.
Translation: I’m spending my own money, so put your checkbook up.
Ten thousand bucks you can come up with more?