Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Truth is stranger than fiction - at least in Georgia

Mark Twain is said to have observed, "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities." I tend to agree. I can count multiple times when an editor has stopped me mid-plot-point, saying, "That would never happen."

"Oh, yes, something like that happened in a town near here," I reply.

Therein follows a long silence on the phone, and I realize that I have once again stumbled into the Mason-Dixon Line Mis-Understanding. I assume, like most ego-centric southerners, that the rest of the world knows a wedding requires bolts and bolts of tulle, that when a person passes away, you should break out your very best casserole recipe to prepare for the grieving family's comfort, and that you should never, ever wear white shoes, pants, skirts, dresses or white anything after Labor Day.

It's not that Georgia (or the South, for that matter) is backwards. We're not. We're just different, and different is good. Sometimes. As long as you have time to translate for non-Southerners.

But we Georgians tend to have a different mindset altogether, and we are definitely concerned with appearances. We do tend to get all up in each other's business, because, as you well know, it's much more fun to wash somebody else's dishes than it is your own.

Just like that T-shirt proclaims, "I nag because I care," we Georgia folks care mightily about the trouble folks might get themselves into. And we know what sort of trouble that could be because we, er, have thought up some mighty strange ideas -- or else seen our brother-in-law think up some mighty strange ideas.

To that end, around Georgia, we have some strange laws on the books, laws that my editor would probably shake her head at and say, "That would never happen."

But it is, and it falls under the Mark Twain Law.

For instance:

It is illegal to use profanity in front of a dead body which lies in a funeral home or in a coroner's office.

Donkeys may not be kept in bathtubs.

No one may carry an ice cream cone in their back pocket if it is Sunday.

Now, the profanity in front of a dead body, I can surely understand. We Southerners totally get the concept of letting the dearly departed truly rest in peace. But the donkeys? And the ice cream cone? Part of me wonders if anybody did this to begin with and the law was in reaction to that event. Part of me is glad that donkeys are safeguarded from would-be idiots who would want to put a donkey in a bathtub.

Depending on the town you live in here in Georgia, you may be subject to the following laws:

All citizens must own a rake.

It is against the law to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole or street lamp.
(Again, glad that the giraffes are so protected, but what idiot did this to begin with?)

No one may tease an idiot. (Oops, did I just break that one with my previous comment? I think I did. Hopefully, if I run afoul with the law, someone will bail me out.)

I found these, and other, even more hilarious, examples at Dumb Laws -- go check 'em out.


Penelope said...

Haha :) Thanks for a good laugh. I'm totally imagining someone rounding up a giraffe to tie to a telephone pole. And are there rake police?

Jessica Lemmon said...

I think maybe Ohians and Georgians are very much alike in a lot of ways. We're all up in each other's business!

The casserole thing applies to weddings & funerals. (I had to practically arm wrestle my grandmother to keep her from bringing a covered dish to my finely catered reception...)

Lickety Splitter said...

Oh crap ... be right back, I have to go untie my giraffe.

Cynthia Reese said...

Penelope, there HAVE to be rake police ... but my question is, do you just have to own it, or do they force you to USE it??

Jessica, too funny on your grandmother -- I'd have let her bring it. She sounds like a sweetie!

Lickety Splitter, I should have known you were the inspiration for that law!

Anonymous said...

I'm not EVEN going to comment on the Alabama ones.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Okay, since I live in Georgia, I had to check out the link after reading this. And the fifth law listed...? Is that why the Love Shack keeps having so many legal problems? :0

Too hilarious! And, it's good to know that the rake in the garage helps us appear to be law-abiding citizens. :D

Off topic: Have you ever attended the Red Clay Writers Conference in Kennesaw?

Anonymous said...

Funny stuff. I wonder if my area has laws like these.

wordsareforwriting said...

Some funny stuff.

What were people thinking?

What do you think was the case that brought the icecream law into being?

Kelly Breakey said...

Fine...I am going to get my donkey out of the bathtub...Oh wait, I don't live in Georgia so I should be okay.


Susan Kaye Quinn said...


I think I would rather have the giraffe tied up than wandering the streets, though. :)