Twanglish Lesson: Healthy

Today’s Twanglish Lesson yet again proves that real Southerners have a highly refined sense of irony. We may not all be able to define the word properly. We’re almost certain to use the form “ironic” in a completely wrong way. (Coincidence does not equal irony, but some coincidences can be ironic. Take for example me running into you at “the Walmarts” in your home town. It’s not ironic in and of itself, but my smile and wave…)

As far as irony in practice, even the most sullen Goth teenager can’t match us … or Emo teenager … or whatever they’re calling mopey pale kids dressed in black these days.

Before we go too far down the road of defining irony, let’s get back to the Twanglish term at hand. We’ve talked many time here on RSM about the need to be respectful, polite and considerate of the feelings of others. It’s so much a part of Southern culture that we even do it when the person we’re talking about is completely out of earshot – just in case a change in the winds might carry an offending phrase to their ear. Such must be the explanation for this one:

Healthy -euphemism 1. overweight; obese; portly:

That new gal they got down at the Walmarts is kindly healthy. She must tip the scales near ’bout 360.

Nothing would be farther from the character of a Real Southern Man than to openly call someone “fat.” Other people’s feeling matter in the South. This is not about glandular issues or genetics or lifestyle abuses, either. We don’t try to minimize the problem or pretend that it isn’t a problem at all. Real Southern Men don’t cop to that type of meaningless political correctness.

Don’t get me wrong; an insult is still an insult. But when the insult takes on the flavor of a compliment and is uttered from a heart of genuine sympathy and concern … well, it’s probably Twanglish.

Who knows? If you say it, the person just might want to be it.

Now if I had a dollar for every time I heard my father describe a passing stranger as “healthy,” I’d be a wealthy man. As it is, I’m more “wealthy” … in the ironic sense of the word.

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