Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bless His Heart...

A few months back, my sister and I were discussing the wonders of the Southern language. After examining all the single syllable words that are made into two-and sometimes-three syllables, (Like, "Seth" becomes, "Say-eth.") we decided that our favorite thing about the Southern language is "Bless his heart."

I love this phrase. It is the most wonderful (and arguably powerful) phrase in the Southern language. "Bless his heart" is the verbal equivalent to the sound that a sword makes as it is leaves its sheath. If you hear "bless his heart," you know that someone is about to be sweetly lanced.

"Bless his heart, he's just slow in the head. Maybe he hit it on somethin' when he was little..."

"Bless his heart, he's put on a few pounds."

"Bless his heart, he's just a gay."

"Bless his heart, he's dummer than a box of dirt."

"Bless her heart, she's awfully flat upstairs."

"Bless her heart, she inherited her daddy's metabolism."

"Bless his heart, his momma told me that he just can't seem to stop wettin' that bed."

"Bless his heart, his acne just makes ya wanna throw-up."

But don't get me wrong; "Bless his heart" doesn't really make you feel bad. First off, the recipient rarely hears it. Secondly, if you do hear it, it can really be consoling to your poor slob-self. It is like a big, warm dummy blanket.

"Bless your heart, you just got all tangled up in those words, didn't ya?" - Laura Bush to Dubya after any old speech.

"Bless your heart, you didn't know that your swim-trunks had slipped off on after that second lap. You just swim too fast. You're so fast, I think I'll call you 'flash'... no, scratch that... awe, bless your heart, don't cry, I didn't mean to make a joke..."

"Bless your heart, you may not have hit the ball, but you sure did swing that bat good! Bless your heart, if you don't make it in baseball, you'd be an expert wood-chopper!"

Yessir. You can have your snobby "to be or not to be,” or "I have a dream."

I'll take "bless his heart" any day of the week. Because, unlike the other lofty preambles, "bless his heart" is really a prayer. "God, bless his heart, because You obviously aren't going to bless much else on the poor sucker. In Jesus name, a-men."

Just. So. Beautiful. Sniff.


Tully said...

Hahahahah! That was great! :)

majorsteve said...

Seth you and I have been down this road before. Consider what you've just said:"

"Bless his heart" is the verbal equivalent to the sound that a sword makes as it is leaves its sheath. If you hear "bless his heart," you know that someone is about to be sweetly lanced."

In my experience, whenever I think about that phrase being uttered, it comes from a little old lady, such as my dearly beloved Mama Gladys, talking about a puppy with a crushed pelvis dragging himself off the road, a Downs syndrome grandchild, a husband dying of cancer. To say "bless his heart" is merely trying to express sympathy. It's what people say when they feel totally helpless. But it can mean other things too, like "he can't help it". For example: "Well, it looks like Tommy will be doing some time in prison after getting that sixth DUI, bless his heart". Now this may be a ridiculous sentiment, but I don't hear any sword leaving a sheath.

This is probably the only stupid thing I've ever read you say. You are so far off the mark on this one. Why is it so hard for you to believe that not everyone is playing snarkball?

Seth Ward said...

Major, brother... lighten up. I didn't mean to offend you, or your Mama Gladys, or any mentally challenged person out there, or someone dying with cancer... I'm not the first writer to have uttered this satirical idea, (just google, "bless his heart") and come to find out, the POV I presented appears to be the general consensus. And since I blogged about it I found that it is such a common satirical subject, I'm almost a little embarrassed that I've only just written about it.

Yes, you are correct, not all "bless his/her/your hearts" are meant to deliver sarcastic remarks and and I am fully aware that the phrase can and has been used honestly and with pure intentions, and that some are meant as sincere blessing over situations that are dire, serious and depressing.

I am very sorry if I offended you or any of your loved ones, however, there is no need to say that I am stupid, nor imply that my sister is stupid.

Anonymous said...
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majorsteve said...
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Popcorn said...

Funny!! And so often true. That is how some people use it. Hilariously human isn't it???

Tully said...

Yikes, MajorSteve!!! Brother Seth is one of the most hilarious and intelligent bloggers on my reading scroll…so forgive me if I take offense to your comment, because (a) money can buy you a lot of things, but it can’t buy you a sense of humor and (b) don’t call my friend stupid…it’s just not cool! ;)

Jenny said...

This was the most enjoyable dissertation break I've taken in a week. Laughed out loud!