By Cherimie Crane Weatherford
In the most confusing of times we are faced with a collaborative cocktail of bias, judgment, and presumption. In a world so clouded by color, entangled in ethnicity and jilted by gender, often we are unable to genuinely experience the uniqueness of character. With an encyclopedia of expectation preceding most encounters, our gift of first impression is silently stolen.
Impossible as it is to read any newspaper void of the most popular prejudices, there is one discriminatory discipline that often hovers just under the radar of notoriety. We hear horrors of race, injustices of gender, and unacceptable alienation of ethnicity; however, much less common is the ever so present regional bias, accent discrimination, or colloquial collusion.
I would be slightly remiss if I did not first admit to this horrendous act. There have been times when my Southern ears were unable to clearly, and without preconceived notion, listen to someone from the Noble North give their honest opinion of grits. I have also found myself doubting my male counterpart’s ability to line dance in high heels. Obviously, I have my own prejudice.
One premier example of regional bias would be none other than our beloved Heritage on Hilton Head Island. Ironic is the name, hilarious is the people watching. This prestigious golf tournament/cocktail extravaganza/fashion casserole is nothing less than a whirl wind of melting pot prejudice.
Even an untrained eye can easily categorize, within moments, each pair, each group, and each lonesome soul into North, South, Midwest, and what I affectionately refer to as Nosoms. Nosoms are the poor unfortunate souls who have lived in so many regions that their clothing, their accent, and their way of interacting socially is a geographical mess.
The Southerners, especially the local East Coast crew, are the most dominant of Heritage spectators. Their experience shines clearly in their pastel clothing, viable visors, well-worn Master’s gear, and personalized Koozie. This group understands the Heritage, understands the game and, most importantly, understands the need for sunscreen. However, not all Southerners are as prim and properly prepared. The less experienced Southern crew are easily found by the unmistakable Heritage sunburn, the almost unbearable limp from failed footwear, and the slight over excitement at the free beer tent. Although they are not as skilled as their East Coast family, they are still easily labeled as Southern.
The North brings a distinct contrast. Often their leather shoes, dark sunglasses, and constant bug swatting are notable nuances. This group has a faster pace walk, a faster pace talk, and an incredible fascination (sometimes fearless) with our king of regional reptile, the alligator.
Our brothers and sisters from the Midwest are, as their very name suggest, somewhere in the middle. They aren’t quite clothed in pastel plaid or leather-infused brown, instead they proudly don their regional team apparel. Ohio is quite proud of their Buckeyes, for this I am certain. They aren’t all armed at the ready with scented bug spray as their Southern friends, and they don’t sprint through the ropes with the gazelle-like speed of their Northern family, but they are exceptional golf clappers. No one can wave a “Quiet Please” banner quite like a Midwesterner.
As if these groups weren’t enough to keep the regional bias buzzing, the poor Nosoms struggle through the day desperately trying to blend. Within seconds this group is identified by pastel, plaid, leather, and team apparel all situated in one unfortunate outfit. They flounder between beer and Mimosa in search of cocktail comfort while eating bratwursts and fried green tomatoes. They bounce between “y’all” and “you’s” like a mechanically maimed ping pong ball.
As the day goes on, the groups can be heard complaining about the traits and characteristics of one another; the beer tent becomes a most amusing example of differing opinions and slightly slurred colloquial confusion. Of course, there is still a most important golf tournament being played and when the regions break from their adversity, a common peace settles over the green or someone gets publicly shamed.
Regardless of difference in dress, difference in speech, and difference in drink, the groups manage to coexist — however interesting that existence proves — even if just for one week. Then everyone returns home with hilarious stories, incredible encounters and confirmation that their region is in fact far superior to the others. I was lucky enough to attend with the East Coast Southern crew, although my dusty cowboy boots and desire to chat may have been better served in the Southern, Southern group. Either way, I found the Heritage to be an incredibly entertaining experience, sunburn and all.
By Cherimie Crane Weatherford