This afternoon I saw my wife reading Southern Living. “Hey, can I see that when you’re done?” I asked. Not because I wanted to read about porches and gardens, easy bedroom upgrades, or the South’s hottest food towns. (Actually, I might take a peek at the food towns.) No, I wanted to read Rick Bragg’s Southern Journal, on the last page.
I love Rick Bragg. The former New York Times reporter wrote a series of memoirs about his family and growing up poor in Alabama and Georgia. Bragg is a wonderful storyteller. Read his books, if you haven’t already.
In his May 2013 Southern Living essay, Bragg tackled groveling. He got help.
“A few months ago, I asked readers for advice on how to grovel,” he began. “The alternative–to do right in the first place–I rejected from self-awareness.”
Bragg shared some of the advice in the column. It was good. A woman named Susan told Bragg not to worry about groveling. As Bragg noted, Susan seemed to imply that he shouldn’t expect too much of himself, “being a man.”
There was plenty more, including a funny anecdote about Bragg’s dog (Woody Bo) eating his favorite shirt. He spilled crab soup on the shirt during a trip to Louisiana and dropped it on the bedroom floor when he returned home.
I was impressed by the groveling advice offered by David of North Carolina. He gave Bragg a a three-point plan:
1. Grovel often. It’s expected. 2. Admit you’re wrong. It’s quicker. 3. Don’t worry about being sincere. They know.
By the way, asking for reader input is a shrewd strategy for generating essays, columns and blogs. So be like Rick. And, if you’re a man, grovel often, and unashamedly.