I got danged all to heck today.

It’s a southern thing. This morning, the driver who cut in front of me (after my light had transitioned from red to green) was furious as I eased forward in an attempt to block his merge onto the highway.

He was the third car to cross in front of me after my traffic light had changed to green. They tend to do that down here. Usually, they smile and wave when executing their post-red-light, nose-crossing maneuvers.

I squinted to read his lips.


That’s it. That’s what he said. “Oops!”

His shoulders shrugged and he grinned. Even while danging me all to heck, he grinned. They all do. Sometimes they even wave. Still, they continue, long seconds after their light turns red and mine green. They keep coming, one car after another after another, shrugging and grinning and oopsing and merging while I await my turn, which technically, had already started.

Just once, I’d like to have one of the poential nose-cutters say, “Oops,” smile and wave, then put it in reverse and back up, forcing all other would-be nose-cutters to back up as well. That way, I could smile and wave and maybe shrug myself and say, “Oops”. If they waited their turn, I may even say some anti-dang-you-all-to-heck comments, maybe even a, “Bless you all to anti-heck” comment or two.

That said, I love the south. I love it down here. Where else can you be danged all to heck, and, with windows down at 6AM – because it’s warm enough for that here in early April – and literally laugh out loud at the lame excuse for a curse, laugh so loud that the danging-me-all-to-heck driver hears your laughter, and begins to laugh with you and at himself. He even slaps his steering wheel at the absurdity of it all.

When he said, “Oops,” and smiled and shrugged, I guess I should have mouthed, “It’s okay,” and waved him across. I didn’t. Instead, I jammed it in gear and moved forward, before the next dang-it-t0-hecker could cut across my nose.

After he passed and when I crossed the intersestion and entered my lane,  I noticed in the rear view mirror the face of a frustrated driver, sitting at his light, fingers anxiously tapping on the top of his steering wheel. I knew exactly he was thinking. It was one of two things, and maybe both things:

“Dang you all to heck,” and, “Go Gamecocks.”

Either way, we’re all okay. We live in the south, where middle fingers and words like, “damn,” and, “hell,” exist only in the imagination, and are best reserved for those raised without the blessing of southern etiquette.

Besides, southerners reserve the right to flip out this ubiquitous, all-powerful phrase:

“Bless your heart!”

That phrase carries with it the strongest, brightest blessing, or the darkest, nastiest multi-generational curse that’s infinitely worse than any three-word combination any non-southerner could ever string together.

All things considered, I’m good with being danged all to heck. If my heart had been  blessed in that negative way, I would have had to take sick leave, because I would have gotten deathly sick, instantly. My car would have crept back home at a maximum speed of 35 miles-an-hour, and the driver would have whimpered his share of dang-me-all-to-hecks the entire way.

So, I say dang me all to heck all day long. Just don’t bless my heart in a negative way. Please, anything but that. I’m too fragile.