The Importance Of: Misguided Geographical Stereotypes

The Importance Of: is a semi-monthly bit on the importance of topics that aren’t really…and also irony.

She was very sweet. The blonde-haired, 20-something from Connecticut. She sat next to my wife and I during dinner at a friend’s lovely wedding in upstate New York.

We chatted openly like people do at receptions with an open bar and two bartenders. Inevitably the conversation steered towards: How do you know so-and-so? What do you do? Where are you from?

We mentioned we were from Idaho and our fair-haired neighbor responded with a question that I’ve heard before, but in less direct form.

“What kind of person does it take to live out there like that?”

Comments like those used to bother me. I look forward to them now.

I responded with, “You know, it’s really tough. But we have grandpa’s potato farm which generally gets us through most the summer, and we do a lot of fur tradin’ with the natives in the winter months. I don’t understand your question.”

But I did. Urban or rural, no one is spared from geographical stigma douchery at some point.

On another occasion, I met some bro at a rock climbing area in central Washington. Upon finding out during our brief chat that my hometown had a state university he proceeded to ask, “What do they teach, masturbation?”

First of all, that would probably be more useful than 85% of liberal arts degrees, so the insult is less potent. Impotent even. I would double major with a law degree and become a Master Debater.

But there lies the importance of blindsiding moments of geographical ignorance from strangers. Because, as a rule, people who spew uninformed views about places they haven’t visited tend to sway other like-minded people who haven’t visited those places either, which equals fewer annoying people moving to your home. We should thank them!

And even though I bump into them more than I’d like, I’m always comforted by the fact that I’ll likely never have to see them again because I live a few days wagon ride away in a flat, corn-growing state in the Midwest.

I also remind myself that people can change. As is shown by articles like: “Reporter Who Once Bashed Minnesota Now Moving Here”.

Still, whenever a stranger metaphorically backhands me right out of the gate by insulting my choice of residence, I embrace my role as an isolationist homesteader with a Ph.D. in Masturbatory Theory, knowing that it’s probably our final interaction.

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Most people are fairly cool. It’s a small percentage of immature individuals that never got hit in the face in middle school who choose to be insecure about where other people choose to live. And I’m grateful for them.

But for the sake of transparency, I admit that you can definitely still find some separatist frontiersmen along the back roads of Idaho.

I’ve always wondered what kind of person it takes to live out there like that.

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