A Meat and Three Primer

I’m not a Southerner. I’m not a Yankee. I come from the Midwest originally, which means when it comes down to it, I’m nothing.

When you’re nothing, it is easy for the little things to impress you. Long Island accents. California avacado-eaters. People who love the Red Sox.

I moved to the South in 1997. I fell in love with the BBQ. I fell in love with the music. Blues from the MIssissippi Delta, banjo-pickin’ from the Carolina moutains, Zydeco from the dirty floors of Bourbon Street. It all took this little nothing and wrapped him in southern cloth and called him a convert.

All of this brings me to why I’m covering my keyboard (owned by a large corporation which probably doesn’t like the idea very much) with grease.

In the South, you know you’re about to eat very well (and very badly) if you pull a muscle while carrying your lunch in from the car. I figure my lunch today weighed about as much as my dog. It (the lunch, not my dog) came from a joint that is more a genre than a food place.

Around here (and maybe in other places I haven’t visited) they call them “Meat and 3’s.” In short, you get a meat and three sides for a set price. In my case today $4.65.

They’re everywhere. Some are good, some are bad. The one near my office is an institution. McBee’s Diner. Mrs. McBee (and that’s MACK-bee, by the way) hooks me up whenever I walk in. “Get that Newsman a bigger breast,” she says. Frankly, they’re probably big enough as it is.

Inside the heavy styrofoam box (no earth-friendly wax paper in this place): a fried chicken breast big enough to injure a small child; green beans that had been cooking so long that they were actually afraid of the pastic fork; mac and cheese (none of that Kraft powder cheese); and the delicacy, fried okra.

Here’s the mark of a fine southern meal: If when you finish, your paper napkin has so much grease on it that it is transparent, you’re eating well.

I heard somewhere that southerners have a greater risk of heart disease and Yankee’s have a better chance of dying becuase of work-related stress.

I’m not worried, though. I’m nothing.

Wait. I take it back. I am SOMETHING.

I am full.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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