Southern Charm-Less Rebuttal

How can you not fall in love with a city that looks like this?
How can you not fall in love with a city that looks like this?

 

I have to admit I was a little beside myself when I read Jenn C’s blog, Southern Charm-Less, but then I sweltered on a veranda in my Lilly Pulitzer dress with a nice cold glass of sweet tea and said “Bless Her Heart”. JUST KIDDING! I don’t have a veranda, I only drink un-sweet tea, and have never worn Lilly in my life (just not my style).

However, as a transplant that considers Charleston “home”, I feel the need to defend my city.

I moved to Charleston 10 years ago this August. Prior to my interview/audition with the 2 Girls and a Guy morning show, I had never been and didn’t know anything about Charleston. I was born and raised in Bakersfield, California and at the age of 20 moved to Knoxville, Tennessee to further my career as a radio personality. After 5 years, I was offered a morning show position in Washington D.C. While in the Nation’s Capital, I found myself longing for the beautiful Lowcountry sunsets and a walk on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. So when the opportunity was presented to “get the band back together” in Charleston (Tanya & Mike from 2GG had moved onto Portland), I had my bags packed immediately.

Mike Edwards, Me, & Tanya Brown in the 2 Girls and a Guy Studio on the New Mix96 (95.9 fm)
Mike Edwards, Me, & Tanya Brown in the 2 Girls and a Guy Studio on the New Mix96 (95.9 fm)

 

The reason for my background? I just wanted Jenn to know that I wasn’t one of the “lifers” she referred to in her blog.

I wasn’t born and raised in Mt. Pleasant, but I do live there and it’s pretty amazing. Did you ever go to Red’s on Shem Creek and watch the dolphins swim by while enjoying a delicious beverage on the dock?

I am a PROUD military wife who is currently living without my husband because he is still stationed in DC.

I am also a PROUD career woman. So when Apex Broadcasting wanted to bring our show back 2 weeks after I got married, my husband Jim & I decided my moving down without him was the best decision because this is where we want to build our life together.

My point is this: I have lived in multiple cities and I CHOOSE Charleston because in my opinion (and Conde Nast’s for the last 4 years), Charleston is the best city in the U.S.

Does it get any better than this? #NOFILTERNEEDED
Does it get any better than this? #NOFILTERNEEDED

 

The People
You speak of diversity (or lack thereof), I would have to disagree. I am a “plain white” face in the crowd and blonde so I guess I fit the Charleston mold you spoke of, but Tanya Brown is an African-American mom of 4, Mike Edwards is an openly gay man and we are all on the radio – together – in Charleston. Besides that, Charleston is home to some of th friendliest people I have ever met.

OH AND BILL MURRAY LIVES HERE.

The Lack of Things to Do
Like you said, “If you’re bored, then you are boring.” I absolutely believe that truth. But it means you have to get away from b****ing on the internet about nothing to do and actually do!

Here are a few of the many events that happen through out the year.
Charleston Fashion Week, Charleston Wine & Food Festival, Spoleto, Charleston Comedy Festival, Charleston Pride, Moja Arts Festival, Charleston Animal Society Chili Cook Off, Taste of Charleston, Boone Hall Oyster Festival, Family Circle Cup Tournament, Festival of Houses and Gardens, and of course (the perfectly South Carolina) Grits Festival in St. George (that’s about 45 min away from Charleston).

“How do the people sustain themselves here? I guess they just have kids.” No ma’am. I don’t have kids and don’t think I will ever have children. People sustain themselves here by getting out. I find myself wishing there weren’t so many amazing things going on so I could just have a night on the couch catching up on reality shows and sleep.

The Food
“If one more person tells me how awesome the food is here, I will go Postal.”
Please don’t go postal. THE FOOD HERE IS AWESOME! The best steak I’ve ever had is located on King Street at Hall’s Chophouse. The best collard greens I’ve ever tasted are on the menu at The Fat Hen on Johns Island. My friend Mendi makes the best deviled eggs you will ever try, I’ll have her whip up a batch for you.

If you are a pizza person, you really need to try La Pizzeria.

The Dating
I don’t care what city you live in, dating is awesome and tough. If you truly are looking for the love of your life (not just a ring and the MRS title) then you have to kiss a lot of frogs. Some of the frogs will be gross, some will be rude, some will have bad manners… but some will be fun, some will be handsome, and some will be charming but just might not be the right fit. Either way, the frogs you kiss along the way will lead you to the prince you are supposed to end up with. I dated A LOT in Charleston… and in DC… and in Knoxville… and in California… and I always looked at dating as a way to get to know new people, see new things, try new places that I might not have ever chosen myself, and collect great stories!

Being 34 doesn’t make you undatable. I’ve seen your picture, you are a pretty girl. I read your bio on the blog that has since been taken down, you seem like a cool girl, but if you’re going on dates with the same attitude you had in the post, I don’t think I would call you for a 2nd date.

In your “Update from the author” you didn’t understand why people were offended. We weren’t offended because you didn’t like your experience here. We weren’t offended because this wasn’t the right fit for you. We were offended because of the way you chose to word it. You went on a bitter, nasty, bashing session.

You can’t call someone’s baby UGLY and expect them to say, “thank you” and pass the potato salad.

If you would’ve worded it differently, I’m almost positive that you would have had people reach out and invite you to do things or at least point you in the direction of the type of activities you want to participate in. You could have made some really great friends and had some fond memories to go back to Atlanta with while you were here.

Maybe you didn’t expect the small town of Charleston to know about y’all’s big city blogs and read the post? Maybe your intention was to fire up the internet and get publicity for your blog?

I’m sorry that you didn’t fall in love with Charleston the way so many of the passionate commenters have. I truly am. I’m sorry you don’t feel like a Proud Parent (the way so many of us do) when others mention how beautiful our city is or when we win awards for being one of the best cities in America! I find myself saying “I can’t believe I get to live here,” multiple times a day. I wish the city would have brought you the same joy it brings me.

Good luck in your future endeavors and I hope the ATL treats you well.

To my fellow Charleston lovers, I’ll see you at the next festival and we’ll toast with some Firefly Sweet Tea vodka over bocce under a Live Oak.

XOXO,
Brooke Ryan
@itsbrookeryan

On a sidenote, to all of you that bullied her in the comment section, LOCK IT UP! Calling her job is not ok. I’m in no way Team Jenn, as you can see above, but the ones that took it to the extreme, not okay!

Click Here to check out this rebuttal as well from Straight Talk With Steve

Well let's see, Don't think I could live without Bacon, BritneySpears, Hair Extensions, Hallmark,& Ketchup. OH & wine. So I usually post about those things
  • Sara P.

    Very well said Brooke!!

  • Jodi

    Great post! I also find that there is so much to do here, it’s hard to find a night to just sit home and binge on Netflix. That’s part of what makes Charleston such a fabulous place! Never a chance to get bored if you look outside your front door and get involved.

  • Dianne Campbell

    You nailed it Brooke!!

  • Maria Moss Davidson

    Brilliant.

  • Jewel Aldea

    This is a very good point-by-point takedown. Having been born and raised in Charleston, it will always be home for me in a certain way. But…

    I would point out that Conde Nast is a TRAVEL magazine, and they have deemed Charleston as a great place to VISIT. When it comes to actually living in a city, if I’m going to reference a list, I’d rather trust the Economist’s global livability study. I’ve been quite lucky to have lived in a few of those cities. I really wish people wouldn’t reference the CN ranking and misconstrue it.

    If the rabid defenders who don’t want to hear anything bad about Charleston believe that it’s on par with very livable cities like Amsterdam, Montreal, or Bangkok in terms of diversity, public transport that everyone actually takes, variety of cultural activities, and food, they are misinformed, at best.

    (Yes, food. Our Southern foodways are completely integral to Charleston’s appeal. I love Southern cuisine, and Charleston does it best. I just happen to love a lot of other cuisines, and when it comes to authentic ethnic food, Charleston is woefully under-served, which could speak to it being less diverse than people claim.)

    However, it’s not fair to compare apples to oranges. Whenever I visit Charleston, I always know what to expect. That cuts both ways – it can be a stagnant place, and yet there are some great things about Charleston that I hope will never change.

  • Megs

    I have things that I like here in Charleston, but I’m no longer “in love” in the way that most people should be in the city of which they choose to live. I am also a transplant and have been in Charleston for almost 14 years now. I am from one of those ‘one stop light towns’ in Kentucky so when I first got a taste of Charleston, it was life changing. It was the biggest place I’d ever seen and there was lots to do. My childhood here was great. I once had that love affair that people defend so much. Being an adult here has been a completely different experience. While there are many things that come to Charleston every year that may make this sleepy town more exciting, I see a point in that there is not much else to be offered. You can go to the beach, you can go to the park, you can pay to go through a plantation that you have been to a hundred times. Being here for 14 years, I have went to all the events, I have strolled through all the parks, I’ve eaten at all the restaurants. Things in Charleston do have a tendancy get repetitive which, in turn, gets boring. It’s not always about the person. If the place is not enriching, the experience will not be enriched. Most people who crave adventure and diversity will not find a fulfilling life in Charleston. And when there isn’t a festival or event, things to do in between are limited unless you have money to spend. Some of the festivals or events you have to buy tickets for and those do not always come cheap. Some of the festivals are very artsy/folksy so if you aren’t into that sort of thing, it may seem kind of boring to someone coming from a larger city which may offer more of a variety. Some of the events downtown will largely feature Charleston’s finest. The wealthy, upper-class, 1% which makes the events a “who’s who” type of thing. It can get very snooty which turn a lot of people off from Charleston culture. Things close early. Charleston is in the process of trying to close bars in certain zones at 12 am which will hinder dating and social lives. Most of the time, it is unpleasant to stroll through downtown because it continuously smells like horse pee/poop, due to the carriage tours. This is an old, bible belt, traditional southern town that does not accept change or diversity with open arms. I feel like it’s a constant fight to keep yourself relevant in a town that caters to white wealthy families. When I met my husband and we began dating, that is when things started to change and my view/opinion of Charleston evolved into a feeling of shame. I am white and my husband is a dark-skinned latino. He’s in the military and was stationed here a few years ago. He’s a handsome, wonderful man who is funny and kind, who has manners and holds doors open for people, who speaks with grace and finese, who always smiles with a friendly “hello” to complete strangers, who never has anything nasty to say to anyone…and yet, Charleston has a way of chewing him up and spitting him out. It hurts me to see him treated this way by Charlestonians, in a city I thought I knew. A city that I once agreed was the best place in the world to be. Being an interracial couple in Charleston is one of the biggest obstacles we’ve ever had to overcome. Instead of being able to agree that Charleston is the “Friendliest, best city” to live, I am so ashamed to admit that I now strongly disagree. Yes, racism exists everywhere. Yes, we are aware that no matter where we go in this world, people will stare, snicker, say nasty things, or disagree with our relationship. Yes, we understand that the world is a cold, nasty place full of hate and intolerance. But to live through it in a place that I once loved is absolutely heartbreaking. Charleston has given me the impression that my husband and I are not welcome here. People are rude to us and treat us differently. The older, more traditional crowds will give us dirty looks or feel entitled to say nasty things as we pass by. It’s gotten to a point where people have been so nasty that I have just busted out in tears, shocked that people could ever be so cruel. I’m sure we are not the only interracial couple who have encountered these problems in Charleston. It doesn’t stop us from going out and trying to enjoy what we can with our time here. We try to make the most of it, but to no avail, people will always try to bring us down. It’s funny how life can change based your choices, how a city and it’s people can change right before your eyes. I once loved Charleston. Pretty soon my husband and I will be leaving and it is a relief to know that we will get to go somewhere new and create new experiences. We’ll get a chance to move forward and put Charleston behind us. I have no doubt in my mind that we will run into the exact same problems in another city, but at least we will not be in a town that is sensationalized for being something that it is not. Charleston is the city I’ve grown up in. I found myself here. I learned the tough life lessons that people are fake and things are not always as they seem. Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see! I’m sorry to say, but Charleston, I’m breaking up with you.

  • Kelly Holland Parris

    There is no place like Charleston, SC. I would never EVER live anywhere else. But…… like you said Brooke, “bless her heart” .

  • Jewel Aldea

    I know the feeling when I’ve walked around with my significant other (we are also interracial). I’m very sorry that people have been really snide to your face. So much for being the most polite city.

    Growing up I attended a certain prep school and played tennis, which is a very Charlestonian thing to do. So I thought it would be easier to fit in. But I found that the excluding of people starts very early and very subtly. Classic examples: some people in Charleston ask me where I’m from, and I say “Well, I was born here.” Then, “No, where are you really from?” like I don’t belong. I’m pretty sure they were trying to make small talk and aren’t actually that ignorant, but when it happens over and over again, it’s clear that you don’t belong. Fortunately these types of incidents involved older adults who are now aging into irrelevance as I write this.

    Good luck on your move. It is an amazing feeling to live somewhere where no one bats an eye or judges your relationship.

  • Great article and thanks for the shout-out to Straight Talk!

  • Angie D

    Great article Brooke!

  • C Magnan

    True – you shouldn’t call someone’s baby ugly and expect them to smile about it, but if you’re parading that baby around in top 10 lists and pageants, you need to be ready for a judge to say that it’s nothing special. It goes both ways.

  • Brooke Ryan

    Good point.

  • Brooke Ryan

    Thank you Angie!

  • Brooke Ryan

    Absolutely!

  • Brooke Ryan

    =)

  • Brooke Ryan

    That is just awful. I’m so sorry you and your husband are going through all of that. You are totally welcome in my eyes. I support your relationship 100%. As long as you guys are happy and in love that is all that matters.

  • Brooke Ryan

    I agree about the comparing apples to oranges. The reasons I love Charleston are very different than the reasons I love California. Once you live somewhere for long enough it can be stagnant, you just have to get out and try new things. Thank you for your comment!

  • Brooke Ryan

    XOXO

  • Brooke Ryan

    Thank you Sara!

  • Brooke Ryan

    Exactly….I miss Netflix binges.

  • Brooke Ryan

    Thank you Dianne