If “hospitality” was an inkblot in a Rorschach test, my first thoughts would be: Southern, superficial, stilted, and fake. I instinctively think of Southern ladies sitting on their porches, sipping sweet tea and gossiping about everyone in the neighborhood. I think of Hilly Holbrook, Elizabeth Leefolt, and Skeeter from Kathryn Stockett’s The Help playing a game of bridge. I think of Emily Gilmore from Gilmore Girls, entertaining guests with her perfect manners and polite dinner conversation.
Before I went to college that was all I knew of hospitality. To me, its denotation was being a perfect hostess, setting an extravagant table, and striving to impress all of the guests. And its connotation was very negative. Then I went to college and learned how wrong I was.