Monday, August 18, 2014


Welcome to Oxford! The magical mystical Narnia of the South! Some of you have just arrived, others are emerging from your cocoons dazed and confused at this little patch of the universe known as the best of the South. Here's what you need to know!

1. Football, Football, Football. If you don't have an interest in football, get one. And fast. There are two seasons in Oxford: Football season and pre-football season. The lingua franca is Rebel football and anything related to Rebel football. If you must talk about pro football, you can get away with being a fan of the Broncos and/or the Giants. Because they have Mannings. And even a Vol Manning is part of the Rebel fold. As a tepid fan myself, I suggest reading the Oxford Eagle daily as well as the Clarion-Ledger for sports. And you have to at least know that this exists.
Thank heaven that Archie Manning didn't choose to wear #2 or 10!
2. The best food comes from gas stations. The Germantown moms will talk about how good the chicken salad is at James Food as if they discovered some out of the way place that no one knows about but that's Junior League food. What I'm talking about is the fat, greasy, fried, hamhocked ribsticking soul food that can kill an appetite and a hangover any time. And this is at a gas station! And gas stations in Oxford are called by name: The Brittany Store, Marquis Chevron, and Lindsey's for example. If you don't call them by name, people will think you don't belong here.

3. We have electricity almost 6 days a week. Brown-outs and blackouts are part of life here. People ask where I learned to type so fast and blog so quickly. Easy. I try to beat the blackout. Blackouts happen from everything to the occasional tornado, thunderstorm, stupid texting kid hitting a power pole, or a squirrel*. If you notice your microwave's clock blinking or your cable channels re-setting once a week, that's all normal. If it happens twice a week, blame your  roommate. They are totally messing with you.

4. Roadwork gets done only when you are in a hurry, late for something or there's a huge event going on. There's no getting around it. And those guys are never too clear with the "STOP/SLOW" reversible sign, so you have to roll down the window and call out, "Reckon** I can go now?" Then they'll let you know. 

5. Heels and dresses for Football games, flip-flops and a tank top for Mass. Hey, I don't make the rules. I just make fun of them.
6. However you drive, you are wrong. The limit is 40 on Jackson Avenue. That means you have to subtract 10 miles to account for the person ahead of you is texting, another 10 because when they go down the little dip, it scares them so they brake, and another 10 because they got in the right lane and realized they have to turn into Ford Center and don't wanna go to Ford Center. And if they are in an expensive car, subtract more because they want you to see them. So 40 means maybe 3mph or just put it in park and still beat the rest of the traffic.
Then there's the "new" roundabout on Old Taylor which is like lined and arrowed enough that only Nicholas Cage can decipher their meaning which means you enter the roundabout off of University, then before you see an arrow, go left and count about 3 exits until you can see sunlight and find the map under James Madison's portrait in the White House basement. Then Hwy 6.
Oh, and we also respect bicyclists, who apparently need wide lanes. Freddie Mercury, you made your case.
Father Joe is an old man. And he respects women of any shape and form and size and age. And sock style.

7. You will see a dead possum, a dead raccoon or dead armadillo: OOOPS! Spoiler alert! Didn't mean to ruin the idyllic view of the town and university but... yeah ... dead stinky vermin are part of the experience. And rumored to be "whats for dinner".
If more raccoons defended themselves with space guns, then less of them would be splattered all over Anderson Rd with a mouthful of an old pear and a set of Pirelli marks on their back.
8. Follow the "goldfish you won at the fair" rule. When you win a goldfish at a fair by tossing a ring around some pole or something, conventional wisdom says that you don't name it because it will be dead in a day. Circle of life. Same thing with stores and diners in Oxford. Don't get all "oooh, this is my favorite place ever and ever" or "I'm gonna eat here every day" or "Imma steal their wifi password" because it may not be here tomorrow. Seriously. In 24 hours it will be gone. So for example you go to say SCHMIZZA DEN*** and get a pizza  schmizza-and drink to go, get in your car pull out of the lot then realize you left your phone at the counter, it may be GONE by the time you reverse your car to go in. Like a crater where it once was or a boutique where Vietnamese people will do your toenails in amazing colors. Then don't get used to that either.

9. Beer. You can have a beer anywhere except where you can't. It can be a cold beer but sometimes it can't be. And drinking beer is illegal when it is not legal. So good luck on that.

*Each time the power goes out, coolers come out, candles are lit and parties are had. The next day, someone is selling t-shirts to commemorate the occasion. I once had neighbors wearing t-shirts honoring THE GREAT SQUIRREL CAUSED BLACKOUT OF 2007. Sigh... 2007. I'm old.
**Reckon" is one of those words that you can use to be more of an Oxonian than just a tourist, student or professor from up north.
*** The name has been cleverly concealed to avoid naming a real institution that sells schmizza.