Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sunday Scribbling - "Where are you from?" - 3/21/09

I have traveled to quite a large portion of the world and met a lot of people. One of the first things I am asked when I meet someone new is “where are you from?” When someone asks that, I don’t respond immediately. I hesitate in order to assess whether they can relate to a response of “near Spokane” or “west of Missoula”. Sometimes it is enough to say, "out west."

Most people take pride in where they come from: “Don’t Mess with Texas.” Those from a complete shithole like Oklahoma beam with pleasure at the mention of their home state. It was even celebrated In a fantastic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. No one is more fiercely loyal to their home than a New Yorker. "Forget about it." Even the most inbred proclaim their pride in being from Tenne-damn-see or West-by God-Virginia. North and South Carolina combine to become the Carolinas. Carolina is revered in many great songs. A Carolinian radiates with pride when they tell you where they are from. They could be living in a camp trailer and dining on roadkill, but they love Carolina. I cannot conjure up that feeling for my home state of Idaho. The only song I know about Idaho is “And Here we have Idaho.” The chorus is:

And here we have Idaho
Winning her way to fame.
Silver and gold in the sunlight blaze,
and romance lies in her name.

It sounds like it was written as a fifth grade class project. It is a dreadful song. Idaho evokes neither fame nor romance. Idaho has no native sons like James Taylor or Charlie Daniel to glorify it. I think I have found a song more representative of Idaho. Here it is. If you listen closely, it is supportive of Idaho, trying to keep the developers out. Perhaps there will be a grass roots movement to adopt this as the state song.

I try to avoid claiming Idaho, as one of two things occurs when I have slipped up and admitted my association: If they are familiar with Idaho, their first response is “oh potatoes”. That is infuriating to anyone from the part of Idaho that I grew up in. To me it is no less offensive than someone saying they are from Nevada and the response is “oh whorehouses.” Potatoes are not grown in northern Idaho. In fact the part of Idaho that I grew up in, nothing grew, not even grass. But I have already talked about that in a previous post. The second common response (particularly by the aforementioned inbreds) is a blank look while they call up images of the Midwest, where all of the other “I” states are located. I just noticed this: check this out
How sad to be from Iowa that is so obscure it doesn’t even get recognized as a state by the source of all knowledge, wiki.answers.

Idaho has become a punch line. I remember when Al Bundy said that they should send all pregnant women to a state no one cares about and call it Pregaho. The only notoriety it received was from an excellent documentary on Idaho life called Napoleon Dynamite. Any national news article about Idaho is always about the capture of some miscreant, white supremacy group, serial murderer, a senator performing reach-arounds in public toilets, or some other negative imagery.

I have recently reconnected with several of my classmates from high school through Facebook. I have found very few who still live in Idaho. It is a good place to be from. Far from.

Jeff, I am not implying that everyone in Tennessee is inbred, but some of them are.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, how can you possibly forget about Joe Dirt. He lived in Silvertown, Idaho. The terrible joke of my generation when you say you are from Idaho is 'U-daho? Idapimp.' Hardy har har. Love ya. Carly

myrtle beached whale said...

Good call. Another Idaho documentary that I had forgotten. Kid Rock really looks like he could be from Smelterville. Yeah I have heard that Udaho one too. Very clever.

Tumblewords: said...

Laughing - ...but, still...

Songwraith said...

I agree about the hard to explain part--with the "isn't that in the midwest?," and "oh, potatos!" etc. , but past the explanations, I wouldn't want to be from anywhere else!

linda may said...

Hmmm, I am learning . Here we have less states than you and a similar sized landmass, but lots of towns known for their infamy or another cause. Like Tumbarumba is known for inbred hill billies. My Mum's home town, Griffith is known for it's mafia and drug related stuff. Or Tully in Queensland the wetttest town in Aust. etc etc. Canberra is known as boring and disliked because the politicians and bureaucrats all work here.

myrtle beached whale said...

Tim: But you don't live there. Also, keep in mind the title of my blog.

Jay said...

Ha! Well, as a Brit, can I claim immunity from giving offence if I admit that the word that came to mind when you said Idaho was 'potatoes'? LOL!

I do know roughly where it is, though, Do I get points for that?

I love your style of writing! I'll be back.

myrtle beached whale said...

Jay: Hell yes, you get points. There are a lot of us Yanks that couldn't find England with a GPS. Unfortunately, we don't tend to be worldly. This post will infuriate those that don't get my "style of writing". I assay to offend as many groups as possible.

myrtle beached whale said...

Linda: I think it is great the way we can equate the US and Australia by region. Tumbarumba = Most of the rural south. Griffith = New Jersey. Tully = western Washington State Canberra = Washington D.C.

jeffkenyon said...

In in attempt to remedy the shortage of songs about Idaho, I wrote one. Never recorded it, anticipating an "Idaho" size demand for it. As for TN, Rick will know from living here we really have three states--east, middle, and west. Once heard a suggestion for a song about that with one part bluegrass, one part country, and one part blues.

Linda Jacobs said...

Another post that made me chuckle! I love your style of writing!

Mary said...

My husband is from Iowa, and when people hear this, about 1 out of 3 will make a comment about potatos ... really.

There are a lot of places that seem to good places to be from as opposed to still at, but in my limited experience, those places seem to produce some of the best people.

Carrie Stuart Parks said...

Aaaaahh, Rick, ya know I still live in Idaho, on the same ranch I grew up on, and even in the same house that we bought from mom’s estate.

Speaking of Idaho movies, you must watch Smoke Signals, distinguished winner at the Sundance Film Festival. Written, directed, and staring Native Americans and filmed in……the CdA reservation. “Welcome to KREZ, the voice of the Coeur d’Alenes. It’s a beautiful day to be indigenous.”

myrtle beached whale said...

Carrie:

So you are the one that stayed? LOL. The beauty of never leaving is you don't know what else there is. I had never heard of that movie but I may have to check it out. I saw that the director won a couple of awards at Sundance. Unfortunately, that usually means I will hate the movie. Artsy fartsy usually leaves me cold.

danni said...

this smirk is looking really fine!!!

Anonymous said...

I kind of think that when people hail from places the like of Idaho it can be a great catalyst for gaining a desire to "go". If Smelterville had be your version of Mecca we never would have heard about Italy, Wyoming, The Philipines....etc. The location of our youth is small "potatoes" (pardon the pun)compared to where we go on life's journey. So, no shame, no need for pride ... just a great reason to retire in Myrtle Beach and not go "home"! co

Redheels said...

I know my world is small and I am ok with that. But you gotta know I live in Carolina and you know what they say about that......"nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning"......
Many of the people I went to school with left, but as the years have passed by more and more are coming back home. :)

Loved your post!

myrtle beached whale said...

Redheels:

My point exactly. You have a multitude of songs that proclaim the love and beauty of Carolina. Maybe it is because there are not many nice words that rhyme with Idaho. Or is it lack of creativity by potential Idaho songwriters? Rhyming finer and Carolina is pretty tricky. Kinda like Dora and explorer.

Anonymous said...

haha. Love the Dora the explorer comment in the last comment to Red Heels. Haha. I for the longest time sang Dora the explora. Kids songs are sooo forgiving with rhymes. Love ya. Carly

Rena said...

A little harsh, but accurate.
I'm proud to say I'm originally from Oregon and getting tired of being currently from Idaho. It seems more and more like a backward state--kind of like the Alabama or Louisiana of the West.
I agree about the "potatoes" label being irritating. The north doesn't do potatoes and here in southern ID, it's now all dairies from California.