Sunday, September 9, 2007

So to Speak

By Cappy Hall Rearick

On the very day the movie came out, the DooDah Sisterhood trooped en masse to the Island Cinema to see the highly touted, much anticipated, "Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood." Our panties have been in a wad ever since.

Mary Grace was livid. "I ask you, has there ever been a more nauseating sound than Hollywood Southernese?"

Between bites, we were holding forth on mushmouth Southern dialect forced upon moviegoers by the idiot non-Southerners in Hollyweird.

"Up Nawth, they think we really talk like that!" Peggy Sue's eyes were the size of sunflowers. "Have you evah, I mean evah, heard one single solitary soul pronounce words like they did in the movie? That gum chewing character sounded like she had a mouth full of dry grits."

Timing, as they say in the movie world, is everything and since for a brief spell I lived in the middle of that cesspool of human flesh called Hollywood, I felt obliged to add a micro-bit of learned movieland info. "Peggy Sue," I said, "pretty much all production people are transplanted Yankees."

Sister heads nodded in unison. "Uh huh" and "You got that right," were said in harmonious accord.

"Just tell me one thing: Did Sissie Spacek die and forget to call it in to the Hollywood Reporter? I want to know how come they didn't put her in that YaYa movie." The question came from Alma Jean, who considers herself a Southerner even though she was born and raised in West Texas. I've tried to explain that Texas is Roy and Dale, LBJ, Dubya and Lolly, cactus and prairie dogs. She doesn't get it, but we love her anyway.

I spoke up, hoping she could hear me above the disgruntled Southern chatter. "Alma Jean, we all love Sissie to pieces even if she's not a real Southerner, being from Texas and all. You're right. She'd have fit right in with the Luzzanna YaYa gumbo. I personally think Andie McDowell should have been Siddalee. She has my undying respect because she told Hollywood to kiss her you-know-what when they commanded her to hire a voice coach and learn how to talk right."

"You gotta admire that in a person," Mary Grace breathed, pure reverence dripping from her mouth.

Murmurs of respect filtered down the table of drama queens gathered under a collection of Elvis Presley's black and white glossies for our weekly lunch date.

Ladye Gail, having learned the importance of timing when she walked in on her third philandering husband, sat up straight, took a deep breath and waited patiently for a chatter lull. Ladye Gail adores movies. When not talking a mile a minute on her cell phone, she's slapping down ten bucks at the ticket window even though it nearly kills her to turn the phone off before the feature begins.

"I still can't figure out why they went all the way to England to find a Scarlett O'Hara," Ladye Gail complained. "Not that Vivian was bad, but," she lowered her voice, "I heard her talk once when she wasn't dropping her 'r's' and fanning herself." She shook her head and sighed deeply. "She was downright pitiful. The next thing to a Yankee."

Nancy Faye spoke up. "Well, pitiful sho' nuff describes Maggie Smith masquerading as a YaYa. I could have ridden to Atlanta on the bags under her eyes. 'Course, Lord only knows when I'd have gotten there if her dragged out drawl was my only mode of transportation."

About that time, Kathy swooped out of the kitchen to take our lunch orders. Though not a true Southerner (having spent way too much time in New York City), she tries hard not to sound uppity when she talks. Her words, always crisp and solid however, leave no doubt that she can find her way around Bloomies blindfolded.

She was standing with one hand on one hip when she blew the silver plated whistle she uses only on the DooDahs. "Listen up!" she began. "There's nothing in the kitchen today that any of you princesses would eat. I suggest either the Eggs Benedict or McDonald's down the street."

To my knowledge, we have never argued with Kathy. She is a woman who takes charge of her territory and the DooDahs respect that in a person, even if she did live in New York City for too long.

I thought the chances of my becoming mayor of Cholesterol City by nightfall were looking good, but I looked up at Kathy and nodded my head anyway. "Eggs Benedict," I said. "That is egg-zactly what I've been craving since I woke up this morning."

Kathy raised an eyebrow and gave me a look. "Let's not get carried away, Scarlett."

She had no sooner left the Elvis Room than Gloryjean piped up with, "I can't get that dang YaYa movie off my mind. I think we should protest, lodge a formal complaint to those California Yankees. They are intent on making us all look like village idiots."

I figured that last sentence of hers might qualify for some serious speculation.

"Hollywood doesn't give a rat's patootie what we think, Gloryjean," I offered. "The bottom line is that YaYa will make BooCoo bucks."

But Gloryjean was on a tear. "If I prepare a document on my new Dell computer, will y'all sign it? It'll say, 'As proud Southerners, we deplore the way non-Southern actors speak when playing characters of quality born below the Mason-Dixon Line."

"That oughta make 'em stand up and said howdy," I said with my tongue firmly planted in my left cheek. "It was Bette Midler who produced the YaYa movie. Well, think about this, Sisters: what if she had played the lead?"

My question brought a hush to the group. The silence was like a sudden death while we tried to picture Bette with a drawl. Just the thought of her saying, "Just who do you think you're talking to? I'll knock you into the middle of next week," caused group shuddering to course through the veins of every DooDah Sister seated underneath Elvis's 8 X 10 black and white glossies. Even the three token Southerners twitched.

"It could happen," I said as though I had predicted the end of the world as we know it.

"Gloryjean." Mary Grace's voice was solemn. "How long will it take you to write up that letter of displeasure?"

"Not too awfully long." Her voice was a mere whisper.

"Then get cracking," Mary Grace ordered. "Timing is everything."

Glasses of sweet ice tea were raised, eye contact was made, and a bunch of drawling Southern voices began to chant, "DooDah! DooDah! DooDah!"

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