My Uncle Sam is a true blue Georgia boy who traveled the world during his Army career, and eventually landed here in northern Arizona with my Aunt Hazel (my Mom's sister) and their children.
Uncle Sam comes complete with a love for boiled peanuts and a thick, syrupy accent that I can't get enough of. No matter how he's feeling, he always has a big around-the-shoulders-squeeze for me and a "Well, hello, Babygirl," that just melts my butter.
Uncle Sam has always reminded me of Baloo, that lovable bear from the Jungle Book. I don't know why. He doesn't look like him, he doesn't sound all that much like him; still, I've always made the association.
My Uncle Sam is always happy to see me and my family, or at least that's how I like to think of it. In fact, the only time I ever elicited a look of displeasure...OK, an actual frown...from Uncle Sam was when I mentioned something about having only tried grits once, and that when I did try them, I had put sugar on them.
Oh, he was not happy.
Apparently, hominy grits have a sacred place in the Georgian culture and I had sullied, nay, desecrated that sacred place. Uncle Sam harrumphed and waved his hands next to his head and informed me in no uncertain terms that sugar on grits was not allowed. Any self-respecting person knew that no way, no how do you put sugar on grits. Butter and salt - that's the way to eat grits. Only with butter and salt. Actually, he may have mentioned some other non-sweet options but I don't remember them if he did. What I do remember is the loud and clear on no sugar. Ever.
So, please don't tell him that tonight, while I was scouring the cupboards for something fast and comforting after feeling lousy for the past several days, my eyes fell upon the container of grits, and before you could crack a beer tab and have Billy Carter come running, I was enjoying a nice warm bowl of grits with butter and salt...and cream and sugar.
While I may have Southern blood running in my veins, I wasn't raised in the South so I just haven't been steeped in the customs in the way I suppose I ought to have been. I've never been concerned about it because no one was holding me to any kind of Southern standard - I lived in Ohio and Arizona, for Pete's sake. But I sense that disclaimer may not be a good enough one when it comes to a man and his grits.
I hope that my promise to never darken Uncle Sam's doorstep with that perverted concoction will be enough to get me back in his good graces, should someone spill the beans. Maybe if I show up with some boiled peanuts he'll still call me "Babygirl."
Love from the farm,