How to Say Southern Grace

If you’re going to be a dignified Southerner, you’re going to need to learn to say grace like one. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they ask the blessing. That’s because there are more wrong ways than right ones in this part of the world.

For example: poems and rhymes are quite improper here. I learned this the hard way. “Oh God,” said childhood-me. “Bless this food, before us set, it needs all the help that it can get. Amen — and awomen.”

That’s how I lost my left molar.

Then there’s the ever-famous:

“Thank you God for my hands and mouth,
For cathead biscuits from the South.
For lukewarm bourbon in a glass,
Uh oh, here comes mama to slap my…”

Well, you get the idea.

It’s also exponentially rude to use King James English when praying. “Almighty, we beseech thee,” recited our pimple-faced youth pastor. “Lord, verily doth thy visage beam, yea, upon us from thither shall we lift thine eyes…” blah blah blah. Whatever. Bring on the fried chicken.

Don’t make longwinded monologues. That’s a rookie mistake, too. My cousin — I won’t use his real name —Rickie Dickie Smithandwesson III, takes pride in long blessings. When we stand around the supper table, Rickie Dickie recites the entire Old Testament backward. Before he ever says Amen, three elderly aunts’ knees lock up, and two uncles suffer diabetic comas.

The truth is, God doesn’t need long prayers. In fact, God doesn’t need to hear anything, he already knows what you need before you ask. Just make sure you don’t pray like a smart-ass. Take me, for instance, I am a smart-ass.

Just last night I prayed:

“Oh gracious Father,
My heart is stabbed with riot.
Please save me from my wife,
She’s got me on a diet.”

My wife followed my benediction with:

“Oh Lord, to thee I come with great remorse,
Please forgive us our divorce,
Forgive my husband, who must be sick.
He’s a low-down, dirty, greasy prick.”

And all God’s people said.