I know what some of you think when you hear this phrase. I know the connotation, and the baggage that comes with it. I know what some people think about men from the South, but if I could, I’d like to tell you something about the southern boys I know.
They’re the ones we hunted Easter eggs with, and sat next to on the bus ride home.
They’re the ones who still let us play football, even though all the other girls had moved on to gossip on the swings.
The ones who let us borrow their skateboards even though we’d just sit and roll down the hill, while they practiced kick-flips and other nonsense words.
They’re the boys we rode bikes with everyday the summer before Jr. High started. Before things got kind of weird.
They’re the ones who came back the next summer, because none of us were ready to grow up just yet.
They’re the boys who didn’t tell anyone when they found us crying in the band hall. The ones kind enough to pretend not to notice when we wiped away our tears.
The boys who wrote nice things in our yearbooks, even if they were small and somewhere near the back, so no one else could see.
The ones who cheered us on during basketball games and track meets.
The ones who would bait our hooks, but still give us shit about it.
The ones who saved us a seat in class not so they could copy, but because we made them laugh.
The ones who’d help us change a tire in the rain after a softball game, and the ones who voted for us as prom queen even when no one asked us to go.
They’re the ones we could call to walk us back across campus when we’d stayed out studying too late.
The ones who walked us down the aisle at our friend’s weddings, because the one we would marry was still an ocean away.
The ones who would show up at 2am when our roommate was out of town because we thought someone had broken in, even though it was just a poorly hung bulletin board crashing down the stairs.
The ones who would stay over on the couch because we were terrified of everything else we’d ever hung.
The ones who showed up at our weddings to bear witness and stand beside us.
The ones who love our children like they love their own.
The ones we haven’t talked to in years, but still feel like we can call.
The ones who rushed to buy our first book and post it everywhere.
The ones who reached out with simple, but such sweet, messages of support after a cancer diagnosis.
The ones we know would be there if we really needed them.
These good ol’ boys.
They’re the ones raising daughters of their own to be as special as they made you feel. Raising sons to be kind and respectful, daring and brave—just they were.
They are our fathers and sons, brothers and cousins, best friends and husbands. They are builders and thinkers, fighters and creators.
They’re the Nathans, and Mitchells, and Jordans, and Bens. The Codys and Jasens. The Chrises and Joshes and Josephs. The Tylers and the Darryls.
They’re the boys we grew up with, and they became the men we admire.
So if you don’t mind, I rather you not call them good ol’ boys anymore—these men from the South. Not if you mean it poorly, and not if you don’t know them at all. Because they’re not just good ol’ boys.
So many of them are great, great men.
Liza Dora is an author, illustrator, teacher, mother, wife, blogger, and the owner of the eponymous Liza Dora Books. Her writing has been in publications around the world and her books have been featured in both media and print. She’s sold books in over ten different countries and her titles have been both Amazon Hot New Releases and Amazon Bestsellers in their respective categories.