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Time for a Southern ‘Top 10’ questionnaire

On a January morning, tip over a five-gallon can of molasses and watch how slowly it drips. Don’t get impatient. It’ll give you enough time to bake a pan of buttermilk biscuits. And it’ll be worth the wait.
No one teases my friend Larry Walker more about his slow, molasses-like drawl than Larry himself. Unhurried speech is one of his signatures, but don’t be fooled by the way he gets his words out. That’d be a mistake. There’s a racehorse mind beneath his shock of silver hair.
I wouldn’t want to get into a debate with the Perry icon of lawyering and leadership. There are a thousand things I like about my friend, but one of them is Larry’s proclivity to put a humorous twist on things. But I warn you — don’t get him riled. He’s got a small arsenal of dormant brimstone in his throat. And he can hurl it into an argument, before you can puff gnats out of your face. Fortunately, that’s not his everyday demeanor.
What Larry likes best is to gather a group around a table of down-home food and spice the eats with playful banter. He’s famous for organizing “lunch bunches” and probing what’s on others’ minds. Larry’s a masterful moderator, and he knows how to mash buttons to get people to talk.
The other day, Larry assembled some of his Houston County cronies. While they were chewing on fried chicken and this summer’s politics, he unveiled a sheet entitled: “A Southern Survey, Y’all.” And if you’re not “from around here,” but say, “I got here as fast as I could,” well, that gives you license to take this survey.
Here are Larry’s Top 10 multiple-choice Southern questions:

Best all-time country music star
a. Patsy Cline
b. George Jones
c. Willie Nelson
d. George Strait
e. Hank Williams

Best Southern word
a. Fixin’ (As in I am fixin’ to go)
b. Mash (As in mash that button)
c. Gonna (As in we gonna beat
d. Supper
e. Y’all

Best Southern accent
a. Griffin Bell
b. Herman Talmadge
c. Shelby Foote
d. Andy Griffith
e. Larry Walker

Greatest Southern personality
a. Bear Bryant
b. Billy Graham
c. Dr. Martin Luther King
d. Ted Turner
e. Lewis Grizzard

Best book about the South
a. Gone With The Wind
b. To Kill a Mockingbird
c. The Adventures of Br’er Rabbit
d. The Adventures of
    Huckleberry Finn
e. All the King’s Men

Best Southern city
a. Savannah
b. Charleston
c. Panama City
d. New Orleans
e. Nashville

The best thing about the South
a. College football
c. Beautiful women
d. Food
e. Coca-Cola

The worst thing about
the South
a. Heat
b. Gnats
c. Getting kidded about our accents
d. Fire ants
e. Feral hogs

Best Southern food
a. Grits
b. Boiled peanuts
c. Barbecue
d. Fried chicken
e. Banana puddin’

Best Southern event
a. The Masters
b. Daytona 500
c. Kentucky Derby
d. Mardi Gras
e. SEC championship football game

How would you vote? Would you like to know Larry’s Gnat Line Lunch Bunch’s picks? OK. Check with me next week.
“But,” you ask, “why do we have to wait that long?” Because, with his cold-molasses drawl, it’ll take Larry that long to tell me.

Dink NeSmith is president of Community Newspapers Inc. Send email to This column was previously printed in the Athens Banner Herald.