Kennedy: Why I'm wishing for a Southern Siri

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Siri, the all-knowing genie on your iPhone, is a New Yorker.

You can look it up. Her name is Susan Bennett. She was born in Clinton, N.Y., and she attended Brown University in Providence, R.I. She lives in Atlanta now, but her voice is generic Northeastern.

More and more, Siri is becoming like a member of our family. Our two sons, 14 and 9, talk to her constantly.

Siri provides them weather reports, homework help and answers to their trivia questions. My sons have even discovered that she can serve as a human calculator.

"Siri, what's 369 times 991?" my younger son will ask randomly.

"The answer is three hundred sixty-five thousand, six hundred and seventy-nine," Siri will answer with her perfect, Northeastern diction. Siri, if you haven't noticed, never drops a consonant, much less a decimal point.

Siri is also a good check on my younger son, who completely makes stuff up. The other day I mentioned Thomas Jefferson in the car, and my younger son chimed right in.

"Ah, yes, our 18th president," he intoned, scratching his chin.

"Jefferson was NOT the 18th president," I said. "He was like the third or fourth president. Ask Siri."

I was with my sister the other day and noticed that her Siri talks funny.

"Hey, your Siri sounds British?" I said.

"Actually, she's Australian," my sister corrected.

"Fancy," I said.

Then I got to thinking. If we can have an Australian Siri, why in tarnation can't we have a Southern Siri? Specifically, I want my the Siri on my iPhone to call me "Sugar" and to sound like Paula Deen.

And in real life, I want my iPhone lady's name to be Mary Beth Ledbetter. And I want her to be a graduate of Ole Miss - class of 1986, Kappa Delta.

And, most importantly, I want her iPhone name to be Sarah, not Siri. She will be named after the never-seen telephone operator on the "The Andy Griffith Show," who was famous for listening into Sheriff Andy Taylor's phone calls.

I want to be able to pick up my iPhone and ask, "Hey Sarah, who won the 1969 football game between the Ole Miss Rebels and the Tennessee Volunteers?" And I want Sarah to say instantly, "Sugar, you should know that. Archie Manning and his boys beat the tar out of UT that year, 38-0."

Then I will say, "Thanks, Sarah. You'uns know everything."

And then she'll say, "Don't mention it, baby doll. Kiss the boys and crack a cold one for me tonight, won't you?"

And then, I'm telling you, all will be right in my world.

I've told some of my friends about my "Sarah" idea and they think it's brilliant. My friend Cindy, who is from Mowbray Mountain, says that her Siri often interrupts her before she can even get her questions out.

I get that, too. I'll ask Siri simple question like, "Where can I get some good ol' pintos and onions tonight?"

And Siri will say, "I don't know quite what you are asking."

This is when I start talking slowly for no particular reason. "Where can I get some good ol' pintos tonight?"

My Sarah would know the answer to this. She would not only be able to recommend a restaurant, she could also tell me if they have good sweet tea and pan-baked cornbread.

My friend Cindy says that she sometimes has to Yankee-fy her speech just to get Siri to understand her.

"I have to think back to when I lived in Philly and talk to her using my cheesesteak-ordering voice," Cindy says.

While my Sarah would never cut anybody off, I am a little worried that she might have one bad character flaw. I think my Sarah might be bad to gossip. Especially if, like Sarah on the "The Andy Griffith Show," she decides to listen in on everyone's phone calls.

"Whatever became of Betsy Sue from high school?" I might ask Sarah.

"Bless her heart," Sarah will huff, "Betsy Sue became quite the little harlot. Sugar, did you hear about her and that lube shop millionaire down in Panama City?"

Never mind.

Contact Mark Kennedy at or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at