By Emily Schilling
Beware of “Bless your heart.”
I’ve heard that Southerners will sometimes utter this seemingly sweet phrase as an insult with hidden meanings like: “Bless your heart. (It’s not your fault that you’re an idiot who screwed up again.)” Yikes! These three words — spoken with a drawl and a smile — prove that a spoonful of sugar can effectively hide a bitter pill.
The Southern lexicon features a whole slew of colorful and descriptive sayings that would doubtfully have the same effect with my Hoosier accent: gems like “grinnin’ like a possum eating a sweet tater” and “she has her nose so far in the air she could drown in a rainstorm.” For someone who loves words, these phrases are like sweet tea to my lips.
We Hoosiers, however, have our own words and phrases unique to our part of the country. For example, for most of the U.S., “puppy chow” is canine kibble. But in Indiana the term also describes a SO GOOD powdered-sugar covered snack mix made with chocolate, peanut butter and Chex cereal that unfortunately does look a lot like dry dog food.
Meanwhile, “catty corner” is not where cats hang out to beg for bowls of puppy chow. It, as you know, means diagonal. One place you might be able to snag a few handfuls of puppy chow though is a “pitch-in,” the Hoosier version of a “potluck,” or as they say in Illinois, a “scramble.” Though my go-to pitch-in dish is Buffalo Chicken Dip, perhaps you’re a fan of stuffed green peppers, or as some Hoosiers may call it, “mangoes.” Don’t confuse this mango with what the rest of the country calls a mango because a sweet tropical stone fruit tastes better in a salsa or smoothie than stuffed with ground beef and rice.
While we’re at it, don’t get me started on the whole “pop,” “soda,” and “Coke” debate. Studies — and yes, there have been soda pop studies — show that we Hoosiers are divided on what we call this fizzy drink. I lean toward “pop” but bless my highly caffeinated heart, what do I know?
EMILY SCHILLING is editor of Indiana Connection