Know What You’re Laughing At, Or The Laugh’s On You

by | Sep 25, 2012

I love American history and American culture. I love ‘merican people (especially our artists, writers and musicians) and ‘merican places. Therefore, it pains me to encounter geo-cultural ignorance. And sadly, I encounter it all too often in places populated by lots of “book smart” people.

Last Sunday, for instance, was a pleasant early-fall day. We played disc golf at Pier Park in St. John’s. The course, nestled among elder Doug Firs, was demanding but majestic. After our round, we boot scooted back to the car and headed to Breakside Brewery for the first time. I’ve been wanting to visit Breakside on NE Dekum for some time, so it was fun to finally arrive, find a place on the outside patio and order a Cucumber Gose. And an IPA to follow, washed down by a perfectly prepared blue cheeseburger.

A woman and her husband, both in their late forties or early fifties, approached the picnic table next to us and sat down. They minded their own business until Lucy emerged from our under table with a loud bark at another pooch passing by on the sidewalk. The lady — who wanted us to know she’s a native Portlander — started talking shit to Lucy and Lucy barked at her, which elicited more shit talking. A storm began to brew…

The banter from there went down the typical American superhighway. “Where do you live? Where are you from?”

West Linn. Omaha.

Full frontal scoff from the lady.

Darby says uh-oh. I say, I guess we’re done talking.

The lady wants to know where Darby’s from. Ohio and New York.

“Welcome to Oregon,” she says.

We’ve lived here four years.

In the years I spent living on the East Coast, and the years spent living in California and Oregon, I’ve noticed that coastal sophisticates sometimes feel sorry for people like Darby and me. We’re from Cleveland and Omaha – such unsexy places, they’re actually invisible to the “fly over” crowd.

News Flash! Yes, we have left our native grounds behind — as have our friends here in Oregon who migrated from Michigan, North Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Colorado, Iowa, New Jersey, Louisiana, Ohio, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Missouri and Minnesota — but we’re still proud of our homes, our histories, our friends and family that continue to grow their own American dreams, back home in the fertile soils of the south and middle.