It was the summer of 2001 I started a move to Memphis. I’d been living in Jackson, Mississippi and working for a local department store. I knew a few people who had been recruited by Goldsmith’s to come up here and I let them woo me. I didn’t actually go to work for them until 2002, but the allure of the big city and big city money made me start looking at apartments. In the meantime, I’d gotten a job with a small menswear manufacturer, Corbin. They did a lot of private label for companies like Brooks Brothers, Nordstrom, and Dillard’s. I believe they did a trouser line for Oak Hall at one point. They don’t exist anymore. Apparently they were playing fast and loose with employee benefits. I think they sold the name. One of my
finest most embarrassing moments came at a business lunch at Corky’s with David Corbin and his second-in-command. In response to something, I made a comment about how we needed more basics–three-button sack jackets, plain-front trousers. We didn’t need to be clogging our inventory with bizarre niche suits like double-breasted cavalry twills. Yeah, that’s what the jefe was wearing that day. My bad. But really? Double breasted suits? In Memphis? I don’t think so.
Now I’ve been in Memphis ten years. That’s the longest I’ve been anywhere since leaving high school. And I suppose I’m here another couple years or so. I’m good with that. I fall in line with people who love Memphis warts and all. People who talk about what’s good and what can be better, not what’s wrong and getting worse. I realize I’ve been in Memphis long enough to know certain truths about this city. Let me share
- If you tell a Memphian you visited but only ate at Texas de Brazil and it was awesome, that Memphian will WANT to shiv you, but will instead offer to pray for your soul and take you on a culinary tour of the city that will encompass at least two eating establishments housed in gas stations and/or quick marts.
- Y’all people say “Yah-zoo”. Us folks from Mississippi think it’s adorable how wrong you are. It’s like “Yeah-zoo”. Not like “yahoo”.
- When the phrase, “went to the boats,” is coupled with an eye roll, no further discussion is needed.
- The car inspection station on Washington is quickest. Doesn’t matter how far east in the city you live. I have my husband to thank for that gem.
- Seessel’s means Schnucks. Goldsmith’s means Macy’s. Wild Oats means Whole Foods. There are many more.
- A trip to Collierville or Germantown takes a week to plan. Memphians have often been known just to throw up their hands in surrender and order from the Anthropologie website rather than make the trip to Saddle Creek.
- “McLean” is pronounced “McLain”. No one, including me, finds this odd.
- Worlds Away was much cooler when they let you go upstairs and buy the unpainted stuff to finish yourself.
- Walnut Grove is easier than Poplar.
- You don’t go to court, you go to 201. You don’t get called for jury duty, you go to 201. You don’t pay a speeding ticket, you go to 201. The correct name of the building at 201 Poplar might be Shelby County Criminal Justice Complex, but to us it’s just 201.
- Until recently, if anyone talked about professional basketball in Memphis, we assumed you meant the University of Memphis Tigers.
- Our mayor has better manners than your mayor. And better taste in music, too.
- Six Memphians have lunch. Three will say silent blessings before eating. The other three might be atheists, but will suspend conversation during the blessing.
- Those slow-talking Memphis men may sound like good ole boys, but they’re good ole boys who can quote Homer.
- Those slow-walking Memphis women may not cuss in polite company, but I’ve known several to blister then paint from the walls when they realized they were out of cream cheese and Jezebel sauce.
- Their mothers would NEVER have run out of cream cheese and Jezebel sauce.