Me, Mama, and Vladamir Putin?!

Hello folks, let’s chat…You know you have a real Southern Mama when you get a handwritten note from her in the U.S. mail, expressing appreciation for the food you prepared during her most recent surgery– and it covers all the rules for proper thank you notes: name, exclaim, and fame. I have photographic evidence of such a note that I recently received from Mama, the Queen of Us All.


I also expounded on those rules in my book Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On. But you’ll have to look that up if you need a refresher course. I want to talk about Baltimore Mama.

For the most part, Baltimore Mama’s fifteen minutes of fame have come and gone. So, for those who missed it, I’m talking about the woman who was watching rioters throwing rocks at police on her TV when she recognized her only son among the lawbreakers despite his attempts to go incognito in a mask and hoodie. Baltimore Mama marched down to the riot, whooped her man child around the head, and promptly found herself making the talk show rounds before Baltimore Boy could say “Peace out” to his fellow hoodlums.

Baltimore Mama’s language was a tad blue on the video, so if you’ll permit me to translate it into southern speak it was something like, “Throw another rock and see if I don’t knock you in the middle of next week!”

I’m really not interested in rehashing the debate that followed that very public chastising, but I will say that I appreciate anyone who stands against the steady eroding of civil society. Strangely enough, this position recently gave both Mama and me cause to find an isolated point of agreement with Vladimir Of All People Putin and his fellow commies. Crazy? Read on…

Did you know that last month a Russian court sentenced several young girls to jail time and heavy fines for starring in a dance video that featured them twerking in front of a World War II memorial? Twerking. In front of a war memorial. If you don’t know what it means to twerk neither Mama nor I are prepared to describe it to you but suffice to say we both felt the court’s ruling almost warranted a thank you note to the evil empire. Almost.

Hugs, Shellie


He Just Said What He’s Saying

Hello folks, let’s chat… This just in. Scientists have located the area of the brain responsible for interpreting sarcasm. It’s on the right side and it’s called the sagittal stratum. There was no evidence to suggest the majority of men are missing this sarcasm section. At least, no conclusive evidence.

Still, I think we girls can agree that we use our sagittal stratums far more frequently. As I told an audience of women recently, it’s easier to understand men when you realize that what they say is usually what they mean. Rolling your eyes at your Sweet Thang and asking, “What are you saying?” rarely advances the conversations and usually confuses him because he just said what he’s saying. What’s interesting here is that the article said this sarcasm section is the same area of the brain responsible for logic. Really? Are we talking male logic or female logic? In my experience, there can be a great gulf between the two.


For illustration, I give you a story I picked up while road-tripping in the Big D. I witnessed the following exchange in one of those big box decorating stores between a couple who were clearly operating from different ends of the male/female logic spectrum. Our test subjects were thirty-somethings, she stylishly underdressed in a “I just threw this on and I’m adorable” kind of way. Her man, looking like he was set for a day of golfing with his buds, which may explain his impatience with how long it was taking her to select a wicker basket.

“I don’t want to be late,” Mr. Golfer said to Cutie Patootie.

“You have time,” she replied as she continued browsing.

Mr. Golfer held up a basket. “How about this one?”

She shook her head, “No.”

“It’s got leather handles,” he told her. She shook her head, again.

“You like leather,” he insisted.

“I said no.”

Desperate now, Mr. Golfer resorted to reading the label, “But, it’s approved for residential use in California.”

“Honey,” Cutie Patootie said slowly. “We live in Texas.”

Is it just me, or was there a hint of sarcasm there?

Hugs, Shellie

Do It Yourself, Straight Running Crazy Style

Hello folks, let’s chat…Here’s something interesting for you. Many British citizens are resorting to Do It Yourself Dentistry. DYI Dentistry. Yes. Really. Reports are that 250,000 DIY cavity-filling kits are being purchased in jolly old England every year, under the ingenious advertising slogan, “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?”

Ok, I’m joking about the ad but those funny Brits really are into DIY Dentistry. Apparently they’re trying to avoid the long waiting lists and high fees associated with their socialized medicine. I’m glad we don’t have to worry about that! Oh. Yeah.

Well, anyway, I’m not necessarily blaming the following story on the Brits, but we all know these things have a way of making their way across the big pond… Apparently, a professional wrestler living in Tampa FL has recently employed his own unusual method of DYI Dentistry, using his son as the test case. Robert Abercrombie, aka Rob Venomous, yanked a loose tooth out of his eight-year-old child’s head by tying one end of a string to the tooth and another to his Chevy Camero. Daddy Venomous hit the gas and VOILA! Of course, he videoed it. And of course it’s gone viral.

Daddy Venomous explained his behavior by saying his son was excited about the idea and that it went very smoothly. To make matters worse Mama Venomous was apparently filming the incident. Thanks for nothing, Mommy Dearest.

I would just like it noted that my sisters and I can be eternally grateful our dear Papa didn’t hear about DIY Dentistry back when we were growing up on Bull Run Road. As it was, he fancied himself something of a doctor. I once walked around with a broken arm for two weeks because I could still wiggle my fingers. I’m not sure where Papa studied, but he held to the theory that as long as the parts are moving, it’s all good.


Okay, so I’m just having a little fun with Papa, y’all. There’s no way he would’ve used a Chevy Camero to pull our teeth out! Papa’s a Ford man. Always has been.

Hugs, Shellie

On Jumping off the Bridge and Extenuating Circumstances

Hello folks, let’s chat…Ah, Spring! According to Tennyson, it’s “When a young man’s fancy turns to love.” I would add that the young man has all kinds of company. Did y’all know an African Moon Moth recently landed on the side of a reporter’s head during a live television spot and laid two eggs in the man’s ear? In broad daylight. That I know of, no one has called for a congressional investigation or anything. I’m not okay with that, but moving right along.

I actually have another lovesick story to tell y’all about today, coming to us all the way from China. It concerns a young man named Wu who found himself in a straight running crazy love triangle. I think we’ll call him Romeo for fun.


Poor Romeo was torn between two lovers. His ex girlfriend wanted him back. She was basically harassing his current flame and making all their lives miserable when Romeo applied some deep male logic to the situation and decided that inviting both angry women to a meet and greet on a nearby bridge would fix everything. It did not go well. Imagine that.

Things went from bad to worse quickly when Romeo’s ex up and jumped in the river, and demanded that Romeo save her. Not to be outdone, his current Sweetie jumped in, too, and called on Romeo to prove his love by saving her instead.

Choices. Choices.

I don’t know about Romeo’s raising, but this is the type of extenuating circumstance my Southern Mama didn’t cover in the “If everybody else jumps off the bridge, are you going to jump, too?” speech.

The article didn’t not say how long Romeo studied the tricky situation but in the end he dove in and pulled his Current Sweetie to safety. Well played, Romeo. Let the record show, however, that he also asked his brother to save the other woman– via a phone call… on the couple’s way home.

And they say chivalry is dead. Take heart, single girls. Chivalry’s not dead. It’s just limping here and there.

Honest Confusion Part II

Hello folks, let’s chat… I’m sitting in a hotel room in Waxahachie, TX, having just spoken at the Ellis County Cowgirl Church. I had a blast! We laughed, we stacked up stories, and we celebrated the joy of a Nekkid Faith. You can get a bit of that message in this week’s Southern Comfort. Right now, I need to hit send on the old newsletter here and try to get some shuteye so I can hit the road again in the a.m. So, here’s the thing…

Last week I told y’all how surprised my man was when I explained to him that some people are using words like “sick” and “bad” to describe something they actually think is good. Phil found this so interesting he even made a few attempts to incorporate the new lingo– but it was mostly for comedic value. The truth is, my down to earth solid as a rock fellow flat out doesn’t understand why folks don’t just say what they mean and mean what they say.

The good news is that Phil’s honest confusion has reminded me of another great story that was stacked up in the back of my mind about the challenge of communication. I hope you’ll enjoy it half as much as I do. Oh, and for the record, I’ll be cleaning up the dialogue just a tad bit by substituting a southern expression I learned from my own dear mama.

Meet Mr. Wallace. He’s a good friend of our family and a really funny fellow who is loved by everyone who has the privilege of knowing him. Mr. Wallace turned 85 a month or so back, but he’s still going strong, and he continues to light up a room with his great big personality.


One day Mr. Wallace and his sweet wife had gone to the Country Club for lunch. And, as is his custom, Mr. Wallace had greeted everyone in the club before he and Mrs. Wanda finally took a table beside a young man Mr. Wallace has known all of his life. It was during the ensuing conversation that Mr. Wallace noticed Captain Jack, Jr. was wearing a handsome new watch with a beautiful gold face.

“I like that watch, Jack,” Mr. Wallace said. “What is it?”

“Guess,” Jack replied.

Now, that answer didn’t set so well with Mr. Wallace and his reply has been fondly recounted in the parts ever since.

“H, E, Double L, Jack,” Mr. Wallace said. “If I had wanted to guess I wouldn’t have asked you!”


Hugs, Shellie


On Nekkid Faith

Should you have a hankering to stand nekkid in the open doorway of your own home, you may do so– at least in Charlotte, North Carolina where one resident has been proving this theory several times a week for the last decade. According to officials, Nekkid Man is within his rights because he is technically exposing himself in the privacy of his own home and not in the public square.

Nekkid Man’s neighbors are not happy with that verdict. They continue to lodge their complaints with the authorities, who are looking into other ways to address the issue. I particularly enjoyed how one Mrs. Pecolia Threatt expressed her frustration to the local television station, and I quote, “I was rolling out the trash can Friday morning and I just happened to look over and there he was, buck naked.”


We here at All Things Southern realize some will question whether he was, in fact, butt nekkid or buck nekkid, but I don’t have time for that age-old debate. I’m on a different mission.

Longtime listeners know I habitually break in when nekkid news breaks out because I simply don’t understand people wanting to prance around in public wearing nothing but a smile and the whole thing just amuses me to no end, but I’ve actually brought the subject up today to make a serious point.

Would you be surprised if I told you I’ve been using the word nekkid quite often in my prayer times? It’s true. I’ve been thanking the Good Lord for stripping me down spiritually and giving me a nekkid faith. Indeed, I come to you today full of prayers, passion, and good intentions, but I no longer trust any of those things to enjoy the abiding friendship of God, provided me in Christ Jesus. I have a nekkid faith in God’s son, and I’m always asking the Father to remind me anytime I try and find confidence in my confessions or in my self-efforts to please Him. I stand in the doorway that is Christ the Lord, meeting place between God and man and it is a perfect rest.

Beloved Hubby’s Issues with the Evolving English Language

Hello folks, let’s chat… The English language continues to evolve. Whether we like it or not, definitions change over the years. I’m a word person. I get that. I’ve been trying to explain it to my darling man. Phil’s having a bit more trouble, and in some ways, it’s getting Phil into a bit more trouble.

mom and dad1

Exhibit A: We were watching one of the singing shows the other night. My man and I freely admit that neither of us can sing and aren’t the best judges of musical talent, but we still like to watch the process of new talent being discovered and developed. That particular night one of the contestants had just done what we both thought was a fine job crooning a good old country hit. “He is good,” Phil said. No sooner did he get it out of his mouth when the song ended and the camera turned to one of the celebrity judges, who looked at the budding singer and said, “Man, that was sick.”

Phil looked at me as if to say, “Did you hear him? That was rude.”

“That means he’s good,” I said. “Sick means good these days.”

Phil rolled his eyes and we went back to watching the program. A few minutes later one of the judges told a contestant right to her face that she was bad.

Phil looked back at me. “Good,” I said. “Bad means good.”

I got zero response that time.

Several days later I was all dressed up and headed out of town. Phil was in the kitchen going through the mail when I walked through and commented that I didn’t feel so good. My sweet man looked up and smiled, “Well,” he said. “You look sick.”

“Excuse me?”

“You know what I mean.” Phil said. “You look bad.”

“Excuse me?” I repeated. I finally realized what was happening when Phil sighed deeply and asked, “Just tell me. How many tries do I have left?”

Hugs, Shellie

On Nerds and Overgrown Toddlers (or Death Do We Part)

Hello folks, let’s chat… My man and I have been going through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University with a group from our church, facilitated by our number one son. Confession? I’m finding it surprisingly enjoyable. Who knew Mr. Ramsey was so funny? Okay, obviously a lot of people, but it was news to me and it sure helps the money medicine go down. By the way, this isn’t a paid advertisement, though I’m not “agin it” as the old farmer would say. (Dave, have your people call my people. I’ll even toss in some tips for your next seminar.)

Seriously, I’m learning a lot, like why money issues are the leading cause of divorce in this country and how my initial reluctance to the program can be traced to what Dave calls my financial personality. Yeah, Mr. Ramsey identifies two types of financial folks, money nerds and free spirits. Money nerds love budgets and spreadsheets, free spirits are allergic to numbers and planning. Dave says money nerds can come off as control freaks and free spirits as overgrown toddlers. For what it’s worth, I’ve noticed that money nerds aren’t interested in free spirits leaving them cute little stories on their check stubs, either. (That’s free right there, Dave. I threw it in to sweeten the deal.)

My classmates and I agree that it gets interesting when nerds and free spirits marry, and by interesting we mean carrying the potential for violence.


At least that’s been the takeaway from our small group discussions. We’re convinced Mr. Ramsey is doing more than rescuing budgets. He’s saving lives, as evidenced by one charming couple, whose names I’ve hereby changed so I won’t have to go into the witness relocation program. In the first session, Dave prompted us to introduce ourselves to the group along with our reason for taking the program.

The husband went first. “My name is John Doe,” he began. “I’m here because my wife made me come.”

To which his spouse added, “My name is Jane Doe– and I’m here so I won’t kill him in his sleep.”


More on the Fiery Phenomenon

Hello folks, let’s chat… Men people, you may be tempted to skip today’s chat when you hear the subject matter. Don’t do it. This could be educational to you in a prepare yourself sort of way. For my girlfriends listening, brace yourselves…

The latest medical findings suggest that many of us will experience hot flashes for up to fourteen years–twice as long as previously believed. Oh, joy. This is neither here nor there, but it’d help my feelings if we could all at least agree that this fiery phenomenon is woefully misnamed. Hot flash sounds warm and brief. These are neither. By the way, this isn’t an invitation to flood my inbox or blow up my Facebook wall debating Bioidentical versus Synthetic Hormone Replacement. If you do that I’ll be tempted to pull your fingers off.

As you can see, I’m happy to report that this stage of life is not affecting my disposition. I’m still my same sweet self. But speaking of dismembering people does remind me of a story.

I was giving a speech recently to several thousand women.


To stage right stood a woman tasked with translating my message into sign language. If you’ve ever heard me speak, you know that I can get, well, into it. I was told afterwards that watching that dear lady keep up with me was entertaining in and of itself. So much so, that many in the audience who didn’t need her services found themselves watching her, too.

At one point during my remarks, I mentioned a prank I played on my best buddy that made her want to pull my arm off and whoop me with it. After a brief pause, the translator took her left hand and performed a sawing motion at her right shoulder. Then she took that imaginary severed arm and began beating herself around the head with it. They don’t call those folks sign language experts for nothing.

On the other hand, she could’ve been drawing on personal experience. Men, if you’re still listening, don’t be skeered. Just be careful.


Best Friends and Billy Clubs

Hello folks, let’s chat… The scientific community has big news. They’ve concluded that the brain stores practically every experience– including the most trivial memories– in something like cold storage, where they can be accessed later. Supposedly, this is why a skilled professional can help a crime witness remember details during hypnosis. If I’m understanding this right, everything’s there if you know how to retrieve it.  

Excuse me while I go all eighth grader, but duh? Selective storage and involuntary recall is the story of my life. I rarely lose my train of thought permanently, but I spend a fair amount of time waiting for it to wander back through. Dear scientists, tell me how to access my brain’s top secret file while it’s bent on spitting out related stories faster than Entertainment Weekly and you’ve done something.

For example, here’s how my brain storage works: When I mentioned crime earlier, my brain skipped to a story about Best Friends and Billy Clubs. And since I do love a good story…


Several years ago, a friend of mine accompanied me on a book tour. For anonymity’s sake, I shall refer to her as “‘Red”. The two of us were well armed against all potential bad guys, thanks to Papa. He gave me a Billy Club, put mace on my key chain, and placed Wasp spray under my seat– because it shoots further, and off we went.

I remember the moment well. We were traveling a long stretch of practically deserted countryside when Red began thinking aloud. As she stared out the side window, Red began telling me she was convinced she could really hurt someone if they hurt her family.

In detail, my BFF elaborated on how she could tie their hands over their heads to a tree limb and whoop them down to their knees until her strength gave completely out. Yes, really.

When Red finally concluded her violent monologue, she looked my way and found me with mace in my hand and Papa’s Billy Club on my shoulder. Let the record show, this is one story I have zero problem recalling. It’s labeled and filed, right there under self-perseveration.

Valentine’s Day and Cockroaches, Methinks Not

Hello folks, let’s chat… California, our East Coast friends are at it again.  A zoo out there is offering a Valentine’s special, but not to celebrate your Sweet Thang. Oh, no, this special was created to celebrate your recent break-up. You can adopt a giant hissing cockroach or scorpion, name it after your ex, and mail them a picture of their namesake. This is just me, but I wouldn’t do that unless I was absolutely, positively sure you don’t want to get back together.


As for me, my darling man and I will be celebrating 33 years together! We’ve learned a lot over the years about what makes our relationship work. Granted, Phil’s the private type, so I don’t expect he’ll be sharing his hard-won information with you guys, but never fear ladies, I have a ton of Bubba Communication tips in my book, Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy. Here’s a free one just for you: Give your man a heads-up when you’re about to communicate. Using cue words like “hunting club” or “football” will get his attention and it’s a lot better than raising your voice. That can get either gender in trouble.

For illustration I give you the story of my friend’s Aunt Sarah, Uncle Houston, and their golden anniversary party. The older couple was overcome with emotion at the big shindig as they looked around at all of their family and friends gathered together. So much so, that Uncle Houston turned to Aunt Sarah at one point and said, “Dear Sarah, I want everyone here to know that you’ve been a wonderful wife to me and an excellent mother to our children. For fifty years, you’ve been tried and true!”

Everyone smiled, except for Aunt Sarah who was hard of hearing. “What’d you say, Houston?”

He repeated in a louder voice, “For fifty years you’ve been tried and true!”

Aunt Sarah frowned, “What’s that?”

Uncle Houston got louder. “FOR FIFTY YEARS, YOU’VE BEEN TRIED AND TRUE.”

Aunt Sarah’s face registered shock first, and then offense. “Well, Houston,” she said. “After fifty years, I can get a little tired of you, too!”

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! Stay classy~


It’s a Party, Kinda

Hello folks, let’s chat… We’re just hours away from Super Bowl 49 and I’m not all that excited this year. (At least not about the match-up– I’m thrilled about the company. Thanks for the invite, Red!) Not having a favorite team has the potential of draining the drama right out of the big game and makes for a not so exciting Super Bowl party. I mean, my Saints didn’t make it and neither did my Manning boys.


On the other hand, I won’t have to peek between my fingers or sweat out a single third down. So, there’s that. In my experience, it’s easy to be impartial when you don’t have a dog in the fight.


For illustration, I give you an unrelated but unfortunate story from my high school days. All these years later, it’s still hard to talk about it, but the truth is that one sad day I hit a dog with my car.


In my defense, I was in a curve when the poor thing came out of nowhere and lunged at my tires.

The whole thing was unavoidable.

These are the things I found myself saying moments later to the father of one of my friends. I hadn’t known the family very long at the time, but their house was nearest the scene of the accident so I pulled into their drive in my emotional distress and knocked on their door.

Friend’s Daddy listened as I sobbed out my story. Friend’s Daddy was full of compassion as he patted me on the shoulder. Friend’s Daddy was very concerned about my distraught state– right up to the moment when he asked me what kind of dog it was and I told him it was a big red dog.

“Wait a minute!” Friend’s Daddy, said. “That’s MY dog!”

And just like that, he was anything but impartial. I think it remains one of the fastest times I’ve ever seen a southern gentleman go from “Bless your heart” to “I know you didn’t.”

Hugs, Shellie