For that old-fashioned newspaper pulpit wedged between horoscope and wedding announcements, Lauretta Hannon makes a promise to readers of the Marietta Daily Journal: “Not your granny’s advice column.” Hannon’s column, syndicated in twenty-three newspapers, has a readership estimated at half a million.
The Powder Springs–based humorist fields the usual inquiries about meddlesome in-laws, clueless friends, and insolent kids. Readers usually take their cues from her down-home, no-B.S. tone. While some questions can be “gross” (example: “coworkers who pick their noses”), Hannon says the majority “boil down to some variation of: How do I get someone off my back in a nice, polite way? The perpetual dilemma of Southern women.” She counsels her supplicants to speak their mind with candor, and she sets that example herself with detractors: “I love getting hate mail and responding to it, because it seems to get my other readers going.”
What qualifies her to answer? “Nothing but good intentions and a wicked sense of humor.” For help, Hannon turns to her “advisory board,” which is “Pam, a waitress at the Waffle House in Mableton,” lines from Big Mama Thornton songs, the poetry of W.B. Yeats, and her own award-winning memoir, The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Joyful, Jagged Life.
If it has tires or testicles, it will give you trouble.
Research has shown that people with less money tend to have more magnets on their refrigerators. Tolstoy said cunning is a necessary addition to everything, but I believe embellishment is.
My bright red lipstick is my calling card. I intend to wear it in flagrant disregard of age-appropriateness or the opinions of others. However, the lines on my face are a record of every smile and laugh—and sorrow and grimace. Why would I diminish my rich experience or create a facade that’s not nearly as interesting?
Do not play small. Thou shalt be badass.
Always be a conduit of love.
This article originally appeared in our May 2014 issue under the headline "Modern Manners."