SLOAN COLUMN - Lewis Grizzard: A true son of the South
During a conversation with a friend the other day I mentioned the name Lewis Grizzard.
“Is he a writer or something?” my young friend asked.
“Are you serious?” I shot back, a look of shock on my face. “Son, you cannot rightly call yourself a true Southerner and not know the name Lewis Grizzard.”
If he had been any older, I surely would have raked him over the coals for not being familiar with someone who I, along with and many others, consider the best Southern humor newspaper columnist/author ever. I decided to cut my friend some slack since he has yet to reach his 30th birthday, but I still felt obliged to make sure he never again tarnished his claim as a Southerner by not knowing about Grizzard.
If you are from the South, over the age of 30 and have never heard of Lewis Grizzard, shame on you. Get ready to be educated.
For 24 years, Grizzard wrote a column in The Atlanta Constitution. His column was syndicated in more than 400 papers across the U.S. He often wrote about his three failed marriages and accompanying divorces; his ever faithful dog, a black lab named Catfish; and his affection for anything Southern.
He authored more than two dozen books, including, “Don’t Bend Over in the Garden, Granny, You Know Them Taters Got Eyes,” “They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat,” “My Daddy Was a Pistol and I’m a Son of A Gun,” “Chili Dawgs Always Bark at Night,” “If Love Were Oil, I’d Be about a Quart Low,” and “Elvis is Dead And I Don’t Feel So Good Myself.”
In 1994, Lewis Grizzard died following his fourth heart surgery. He was 47.
Here’s a handful of my favorite Grizzardisms:
• “There is no such thing as being too Southern.”
• “It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”
• “In the south there’s a difference between ‘Naked’ and ‘Nekkid.’ ‘Naked’ means you don’t have any clothes on. ‘Nekkid’ means you don’t have any clothes on and you’re up to somethin’.”
• “There is something wrong when you wait in line thirty minutes to get a hamburger that was cooked for ninety seconds an hour ago.”
• “I’d much rather sit next to a smoker in a restaurant than a nose-blower.”
• “Yankees don’t understand that the Southern way of talking is a language of nuance. What we can do in the South is we can take a word and change it just a little bit and make it mean something altogether different.”
• “Money doesn’t grow on trees, and if it did somebody else would own the orchard.”
• “The idiot who invented instant grits also thought of frozen fried chicken, and they ought to lock him up before he tries to freeze-dry collards.”
• “The game of life is a lot like football. You have to tackle your problems, block your fears, and score your points when you get the opportunity.”
• “You call to a dog and a dog will break its neck to get to you. Dogs just want to please. Call to a cat and its attitude is, ‘What’s in it for me?’”
• “Life is like a dogsled race. If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.”
Writing this column over the last week got me to thinking: I wonder what Lewis would think about the current state of our society? No doubt it would leave us laughing, but it would also give us cause to stop and think. All joking aside, his brand of humor carried with it much homespun truth. That’s what made Grizzard, a true son of the South, so very special.
If anything in my weekly columns ever reminds you of Lewis Grizzard, I will be greatly honored.