THE MIDWESTERNER IN ME

The next time you are in the mood to generate judgments, projections and other bullshit assumptions, tell someone where you live and where you were born and raised. Every day in every part of the country people like you and me are claiming moral and intellectual superiority based on geography and weather patterns. The most sanctimonious are the Midwesterners, and I can say that - I was born and partially raised there, that, and I married an Iowan once. He and his parents felt that the Hawkeye State had cornered the market on honesty, decency, excellent public education, rich topsoil and great musical theater. I swear if I had to hear my ex break into his rendition of „We Got Trouble Right Here in River City with a capitol Tš from when he played Harold Hill in high school I thought I might have to off myself in one of those magnificent cornfields. I have a friend who says that New Yorkers are cold on the outside and warm on the inside and that Mid-westerners are warm on the outside and cold on inside. I agree. I just spent a long weekend in Minneapolis with my sister. And although mid-westerners tend to think they are the friendly and good people of our country I assure you that the Minnesotans I encountered were a mean-ass bunch. It started in baggage claim where I thought I might lose my life. I have never Ų even in India - seen a ruder or more aggressive use of shoulders and carry-on bags. It ended when I had the severe misfortune of having to fly back home next to Chatty „Midwesternš Charlie. I was suspicious of him right away. He was loud and aggressively jovial, insisting on helping people with their bags and talking and chuckling and goddammit, I was stuck with him. Here is what I learned about him: He grew up in South Dakota, he lives in the northern part of Minneapolis Ų not a particularly convenient drive to the airport, he‚s an electronics adhesive engineer for 3M, he‚s two years from retirement, he‚s been married for 35 years and it hasn‚t been easy, his daughter is a missionary, his son is a loser, his best friend went to Northwestern and died of cancer, he‚s a sexist pig and if he stops talking for an hour, when the talking resumes his breath is putrid. Here is what he learned about me: I sleep on planes. That, and I am not some cream puff from California who‚s never felt winter before as if living through a wind chill factor of 80 below somehow makes you better than someone who hasn‚t. Anyway, I just wasn‚t buying his act. I didn‚t think he was friendly at all. I thought he was enraged. He proved my point as we deplaned. Rather than say a simple „good-byeš or „thank youš to the pilot and flight attendants, Chuck felt compelled to launch into a diatribe about what a fucked up flight it was. Attta boy, Charlie Ų let fly with your vitriol, you jackass. Do I sound angry? Must be the Midwesterner in me.