Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dixie-Fried Guys... Male Preppies Southern Style

Southern Portrait: Family with deer stand in back of truck

Yesterday afternoon James, his brother Keith and I took down one of James' portable deer hunting tree-stands out here on the island. It was a sad day... for James. The end of deer season strikes a deep bell toll of sorrow into the hearts of many a Southern man. Preppy, punkish or poppin' the Blue Ribbon beer kinda' Bubba-guy, southern menfolk alike enjoy many a thing that tends to blur the distinction lines between what is Prep and non-Prep in places below the Mason-Dixon line.
While northeastern male Preppies maintain a rather distinctive demographical and stylized existence, deep south versions tend to be a bit more blurry. Take for instance Brantly IV in his Brooks Brothers cords, Barbour coat and Hunter boots with a scotch in hand, a Boykin Spaniel by his side and an Ivy League MBA in his backpocket just back from some sport target shooting standing side by side with Bubba just in from his morning of deer hunting who's decked-out in Carthart and an old pair of snakeboots, has his trusty lab or faithful doberman nearby, clutches a half-eaten bag of fried pork skins and gets continually teased about his more plain-jane southern state college degree, strung-along Masters and finally that eventual PhD he did just for some more fun learnin'.
Out here where I live, those two guys could easily be brothers, best friends, cousins or even one-in-the-same with Brantly being the name proper and Uncle "Bubba" an affectionate nickname given to him by his nieces and nephews.
Southern men in general tend to resist firm labeling and solidified categorical definitions as to defining who exactly they are. Southern Preppy males especially seem to be many-layered and nuanced and usually also are multi-faceted in their experiences, educational degrees, careers and interests. (Southern Belle women are this way as well but that's another blog post a comin'....)
If you run across an adult male who's basically had only one general job definition throughout his life in such a thing as banking, law, business management, real estate development and the like, lives in an upscale suburb or tree-lined city neighborhood with well-tended neighboring houses he can see from his yard, has a wife who's majored in the MRS-degree and Junior League committeeships, kids who exist within playdates and passenger seat commuting between all of their copious planned activities meant to grace college applications eventually, never gets mud on his SUV and/or never has owned a truck and thinks that spending time outdoors is what is meant by being out on a golf course....well, he's either a yankee, i.e. a non-southener, or not really a deep-southern-fried kinda' homegrown preppy guy.
Of course the way a man grows up, the family he's sprung from, the culture n' colloquialisms and family traditions as well as family lore all develop him into being Preppy rather than being something else if that is his destiny. However... deep south men also have what seems to be a natural affinity for the outdoorsey-life that "Bubba's" them to some degree in an endearing way.
Deep South Preps, men and women alike, may try to "fit in" into an essentially (for them) alien culture of what constitutes for upper middle class living in places like Atlanta, Charlotte, Jackson, Richmond, Memphis and Montgomery as well as non-southern cities, suburbs and ex-urbs across the US but eventually they'll feel the fakeness and falsehoods such a cookie-cuttering kinda' social sameness and upscale mall mentality truly feels against what they know as their own life-essence, their vital right livlihood. It's not "better" than what fellow Preppies elsewhere are experiencing, it's just not what's authentic to the deep south preppy sprung from generations of landed gentry loving alike literature and landing a redfish alongside a johnboat.
The gentleman-woodsman incarnation so to speak as showcased by Archibald Rutledge's life and writings as well as the glossy lifestyle magazine Garden & Gun. It's also the way James and I happily live now after our foreign-fields-times living abroad-for-us within leafy suburbs, on the fringes of southern cities and also a fun sojourn out in Utah being ski bums for awhile.
Family caregiving brought us back into living within the deep-south environs of the Carolina Lowcountry but our enjoyment of being, "back where we belong" may keep us out here on this little shaggy, woodsey and oh so quiet island for awhile longer or forever.
We'll see where time and tide takes us further along life's pathways but for now, our Wellie boots, rifles, flyrods and walking sticks are all clumped by the front door on the front porch and our various days spent along our salt creek marsh waters and within maritime woods are treasured moments of authentically living... as it is authentic... for us.
Here's to all the great Dixie-Fried guys I know: family, friends and acquaintances as well! Ya'll keep life ever-interesting and I know that 2010 will continue to be another ever fascinating year to come with being out here around the islands of the lowcountry.

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