I have received a lot of questions lately. I decided to combine the most frequently asked questions and answer them in the Q-and-A format. Here we go.
Q: Why is your blog/column called “Sean of the South”?
A: When I started writing in earnest, my dear friend, Melissa Wheeler, named this column after one of my favorite songs, “Song of the South,” by the band Alabama. Which is the only song I know that contains flagrant lyrics about sweet potato pie. She is a very smart woman, and one of my dearest pals.
Q: What are some other names you tossed around?
A: Some runners-up were: “Sean of Green Gables,” “Little Orphan Seanie,” “Portrait of the Baptist as a Young Man,” and my personal favorite, “Sean With the Wind.”
Q: Do Southerners really say “bless your heart”?
A: Yes and no. For starters, everyone—and I mean every single person—in my family utters the phrase “bless your heart.” But nobody says this expression in the ridiculous way that faux-Southerners use it on Netflix.
Sadly, Hollywood script writers have butchered our cherished colloquialism, and now it’s become a painful cliché.
The modern-day Bless Your Heart joke started during the infancy of the Internet, when chain-email forwards were mankind’s only form of digital entertainment.
Back then, whenever your inbox received a chain-email, this message often came from an elderly relative who sent thousands of email forwards each day to innocent family members.
Many of these messages were political, others were urban legends, some emails encouraged readers to send their insulin money to Oral Roberts Ministries Inc.
But whenever these emails were humorous, you would stop what you were doing, gather the whole fam around the PC, and read the email aloud.
Q: Are you going somewhere with this?
A: Yes. One of the popular comical email forwards from the 1990s was the Bless Your Heart email, which suggested that “bless your heart” was actually Southern code for “you’re a dipstick.” This became such a popular notion that many of my elderly family members quit saying “bless your heart” because they didn’t want to be rude.
So, let me set the record straight, the idea that our beloved phrase is an insult is ghastly and absurd. Whenever my Aunt Eulah says “bless your heart,” trust me, she means it. The fact that Aunt Eulah only says these words to me after I have done something truly idiotic is merely consequential.
Q: I just read that you are moving from Florida to Alabama? Is this true?
Q: Why would anyone LEAVE Florida? I want to move TO Florida!
A: You and 329.5 million of your closest friends. Things are getting overcrowded here.
A: Yes. Each year, Florida has one of the highest population increases in the nation. In fact, as I write this, four perfect strangers are assaulting me with their elbows, spilling Starbucks coffee on my laptop, and fighting for usage of the same power outlet. And this is my living room.
Q: How overcrowded is Florida, can you provide me with a few tediously boring statistics?
A: Gladly. My county used to be a small fishing town with roughly 16,000 people and 19 teeth. We liked it this way. It was the kind of laid-back village where you could go out to your mailbox completely naked and none of you neighbors would mind, inasmuch as they were all buck naked, too.
Today, however, Walton County’s population is approximately 80,000. We now attract around 5 million summer visitors each year. Which means that, at any given moment, 5 million people are wandering through Publix, buying wholesale gallons of Coppertone Aloe Vera Aftersun Cooling Gel with Lidocaine.
This is population spike is why our highways have been under construction since the Punic Wars.
Q: Wait. The highways are STILL under construction?
A: Yes. The Florida Department of Transportation estimates renovations in our county will be completed in October of 2098.
A: To be fair, many people in my neighborhood still fetch their mail naked. Although we are all much older now and it will give you nightmares.
Q: I still don’t get it. Why move to Alabama, of all places?
A: NASCAR, baby.
A: Well, sort of. We have a lot of family in Alabama. Also, Walton County, Florida, is considered L.A. (Lower Alabama) since our county borders the Twenty-Second State. Meaning: West Floridians are Sunshine State residents with Nick Saban stickers on our ATV wheelers.
Q: So you’re saying most Walton County people are basically Alabamians? What about county residents who live in Rosemary Beach and Seaside?
A: New Yorkers.
Q: I once read that you like peanut butter in a big way.
A: Yes, that’s true. I consume roughly 26 ounces of peanut butter every two days.
Q: How many jars is that?
A: About a jar a day.
Q: Whoa, seriously?
A: Seriously. I like to eat Smucker’s Organic Creamy peanut butter when I check the mail.
Q: Why do you write so many angel stories? Because, frankly, I do not believe in angels.
A: The funny thing is, neither did I. But then something changed. Long ago, when I started writing a column for a tiny local newspaper, with a circulation of about 6.3 humans, a lady sent me a story about a near-death experience. The story involved an angel who saved her from a near-fatal wreck.
I wrote a 600-word column, then someone from the paper mailed my column to a famous magazine that publishes angel stories.
Q: What happened?
A: What happened was, I received an email from the editor of the magazine. The editor told me, in so many words, that I was a talentless toad-face who wrote like a fourth-grader. She hated my story, she hated my “short sentences,” and she encouraged me to pursue a career in commercial ditch excavation.
Q: What did you do?
A: I shared the story online. It was one of the biggest stories I ever published. In a few days, my inbox was overloaded with thousands of angel stories—messages ranging from readers in China, all the way to Alaska.
In fact, the stories are still coming in. On average, I receive between 3 to 10 angel/miracle stories per day. Often, I sit before my screen and weep. In fact, while writing this column, I had to pause to read an angel story, and I am still a mess.
Q: So you believe in angels?
A: Do I? Are you kidding? Did you SEE the last World Series?
Q: No, I hate baseball.
A: Well, bless your heart.