Occasionally readers of the internet encounter doings of HOAs with restrictive rules as to what kind of lawns, what kinds of colors may be used for houses, or what kinds of property embellishments might be included. Occasionally HOAs discourage flagpoles for American flags, or seasonal or sports-themed banners as well. And whirly gigs or other eccentricities can be negatively sanctioned too. Bunch of meanies!
Just as well that I'm an apartment dweller, at least for now. However, apartments may have certain restrictions, either from the apartment owner, or from the larger community. For example, a local ordinance in many towns prohibits the placement of old upholstered furniture on porches, the practice being regarded as "tacky." Now this goes in the face of an old fashioned Southern collegiate tendency. Why Southern? Simply because they can there. I can't imagine Boston university students sitting on sofas on their porches in November!
But why sit there? Because the guys and gals like to watch things pass, especially people and police cars. (It gets boring in late week day afternoons.) And, to be honest, television is no good, especially in the afternoon.
But there's an additional side to it, as John Shelton Reed observed years ago. The South is a hotbed of intense individualism. They have a distrust of the exercise of authority over their ability to go to heaven or hell or nowhere as they individually see fit. As he put it, "They can have my La-Z-Boy when they pry it out of my cold, dead fingers!" This intense individualism does tend to rear its head in surprising ways, like front porch furniture choices!
And that intense individualism is the reason why dry counties don't work. And, if we are going to be honest, that's why laws against gay marriage are also not going to go over very well in the long run. There are openly gay couples in the South, and they're part of the social fabric. There's no barrier to gays being individualistic too! The South is a remaining area of the lower 48 states that encourages tribalism (think of small town football games on Friday nights) and an individualism that permits doing whatever one pleases. (I don't have to invoke the purple prose of W. J. Cash to call it to mind!) This individualism sometimes can be anti-progressive, as in attempts to legislate proper land use; but, properly invoked, it can also be in accord with progressive values.
And it's a quintessential Southern tradition to accept when people 'do the right thing,' without inquiring too carefully how they got to be doing so. Even if it's the laziness of sitting on old sofas on porches.
|Old rockers hanging out on a porch sofa.|