the rudeness of the flyover states

douchebag

Yesterday I had one of those tiresome conversations about how allegedly nicey-nice everyone in the flyover states are, as opposed to how everyone in the coastal states are douchebags. A Plurk buddy of mine who is from Wisconsin but who lives in San Francisco now was griping about how she offered to help someone carry something and got snarled at. Apparently this is a “San Francisco mentality”. I thought that the “San Francisco mentality” was a propensity to dress in drag on holidays; guess I was wrong.

While that’s obviously douchey behavior, I hate these kinds of generalities people from the midwest and the south like to engage in. The true fact is that there are going to be jerks and nice people wherever you go.

And I think people making this claim have a very shallow definition of what makes someone “nice”. They think smiling at strangers at bus stops makes one “nice”. But if you get to actually know the person, or at least have a conversation with them, and they turn out to be shitstains, they aren’t really “nice”, are they?

Case in point: My friend Rachel grew up in San Francisco, spent most of her young adulthood in Los Angeles, and recently lived in the Chicago area for a year. She said nearly every person she met there was a total asswipe, and she couldn’t wait to come home. According to her, as soon as anyone found out where she was from, they would berate and belittle her and dredge up the most tired, ignorant SoCal stereotypes in existance.

Even as a kid, once I’d been to both cities, I remember thinking that New Yorkers got a bad rap; but that they must pump liquid rudeness into the Chicago water supply.

Also a large part of the problem: The midwestern brand of  so-called “humor”, which mostly consists of being an abrasive asshole, then squalling “I WAS ONLY JOKING!” in defense against the inevitable incredulous stares. I won’t deny I’ve made my share of delicate snowflakes butthurt with my particular brand of acid wit. But there’s no intelligence and/or social commentary in the midwestern humor, it’s just petty and cruel.

Perfect example: When my family gathered in Palm Springs last fall for Jamie’s wedding, Phil’s younger sister, my Aunt Sharon, was there. The first thing out of her mouth upon seeing my brother? “Did you lose your razor?” David has a beard, it’s not like he was just unshaven. And Aunt Sharon married into an Orthodox Jewish family and has three sons, so I know she’s used to seeing beards!

I’m not saying every single person in the midwest is rude, because that’s just another generality. What I’m saying is that they have plenty of assholery to go around, and saying everyone is nicer there because they say “Good morning” to people they pass on the street is horseshit.

Don’t even get me started on the so-called southern manners. Waitresses calling you “Hon” doesn’t make up for the fact that total strangers feel entitled to start wearing your ear off with their deranged racial theories. But they aren’t racist, because they never used the word “Nigger”! Apparently that’s the only thing that truly makes you a racist now. Saying Obama is a sekrit Marxist Muslim who wasn’t born in this country and he’ll fry chicken on the White House lawn, at least until the Second Civil War breaks out*? Totally kosher!

*This has actually happened to my brother in the year he’s lived in Louisiana. Twice.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sissie Sue
    Jan 18, 2009 @ 18:07:20

    Such a timely post for me. I recently moved to Houston, Texas. Lived most of my life in the Northeast-ish part of the U.S. (upstate NY and PA). I’ve had several of my students tell me (I teach at a community college) that they’re surprised at “how nice” I am given that I’m a heathen Yankee. I never know how to respond to this.

    My partner is from the South, and his mother typifies “Southern manners” — meaning, she’ll just mask her disdain (barely) behind a smile and syrupy sweet voice. Drives me batty.

    You’re right — assholes are everywhere. They just manifest themselves differently depending on region.


  2. Jan 19, 2009 @ 21:51:55

    I remember the first time I visited New York City, I was prepared to deal with major douchebaggery based on everything I’d heard about New Yorkers being rude, unfeeling jerks. Not only was everyone I encountered there perfectly nice, but at one point I locked my keys in my car while putting it through a car wash, and the car wash workers spent almost an hour helping me get my car unlocked AND wouldn’t accept a tip. That experience cured me of prejudging people in cities based on their reputations.

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