convention dispatch

In Which Southerners Try to Explain an ‘Obama Y’all’ T-Shirt to a Yankee

Confusing merchandise.

While in the Charlotte Convention Center this afternoon perusing the Obama merchandise for sale — including the usual selection of clothing, buttons, and $40 iPhone cases — I lingered for a moment on a T-shirt that read, simply, “Obama Y’all.” Though clearly a pro-Obama statement of some kind, the phrase’s precise meaning was not entirely clear to me, a lifetime New Yorker unschooled in the nuances of Southern lexicon. Fortunately, some nearby Southern people were willing to enlighten this hopeless Yankee.

It’s like ‘Obama, you guys!’” one North Carolina delegate offered.

I pointed out that “Obama, you guys!” still doesn’t really mean anything, unless you’re shouting it to your friends as Obama walks by. She tried again.

It’s like, ‘There’s nobody else, y’all. Obama, y’all.’”

Her fellow North Carolina delegate chimed in. “It’s like, ‘duh’,” she said. “Obama: Duh!”

Baton Rouge resident Mary Kay had a similar interpretation. “It’s obvious, y’all, that Obama is the person,” she explained. “Obama y’all.”

But “Dr. Ray,” a delegate from Sumter, South Carolina, saw the shirt as part of a conversation. “It’s like someone asked a question,” Dr. Ray suggested, “and then you answer, ‘Obama.’ This is the reply. ‘Obama, y’all.’”

In conclusion: I’m thinking too hard about this.

Southerners Try to Explain ‘Obama Y’all’ T-Shirt