Usually, these are birthday cards (more on that in a moment). But this was a Thank You card. She writes a pleasant, sincere and well-constructed note in them and signs it "(blank) & Kim" whenever we need to thank somebody for showing us a kindness they committed toward us. It's my job to fill in the blank with my own name, in my own handwriting.
"You are just sooo Southern," I tell her, not paying much attention to the words falling out of my very mouth. And sending Thank You notes may not even be a Southern thing as much as it is the correct thing to do. It just feels what I think is Southern to me. Maybe it's because this is the second Thank You note I've signed this week.
And it feels Southern to me because Kim is a Southern girl, born and bred right here in Lexington, and this simple act of correct etiquette, Southern or not, is how she was raised. She sends out Thank You notes for parties we've been invited to and attended, for gifts that have shown up on our porch, for dishes and desserts that have been given to us for no particular reason.
"Well," Kim tells this Yankee from Pennsylvania, who surreptitiously steals the silverware when nobody is looking, "You didn't have to move 500 miles if you didn't want to marry a Southern girl."
I could go in several different directions here, but suffice it to say, point well taken. She occasionally tells me off like this with a soft, lilting and compelling accent that makes me smile.
"Ah don't hay-ave an ak-say-ent," she argues, adding all those extra syllables along the way, and I melt.
She never met a birthday she didn't like (except her own), so I am constantly signing birthday cards, too. Whenever we go shopping, we have to stop somewhere to buy a birthday card or two. She knows when everybody's birthday is, including the birthdays of my friends, much less her own. I don't know how she does it. I think she has a Rolodex in her brain.
The other Southern thing she does is fix meals for friends in distress. I mean, the other day a friend of ours recently had knee replacement surgery, and Kim whipped up a Key Lime pie for him. Several years go, one of our neighbors had an extended hospital stay, and he got a chicken pie. Another neighbor brought our cable and wifi back to life, and he got a lasagne.
The thing is, these are all the comfort foods that I enjoy but can't have because we're on never-ending diets. I'm seriously considering doing bodily harm to myself to see if I can wrassle up some of her world-class lasagna. Haven't had any of that in years. (Although, back when we were dating, I suffered a high ankle sprain while playing basketball. I was treated to Dagwood sandwiches for a week. I milked that one for all that it was worth. I think that's when I asked her to marry me).
Like I said, I'm not sure Thank You notes and comfort meals are exclusively Southern. I don't remember us Yankees running around when I was a kid doing nice things for each other, although I'm guessing we probably did. We were, after all, good church-going Moravians.
But there's something about the way Kim goes about all this that just feels right, that's taken decades to hone – no, a culture to hone.
And she's making me put the silverware back.
(blank) & Kim