As a Californian
Last evening while dining with friends, stories of the past were being exchanged. Suddenly, someone turned to me and asked what about you, Verna? At first, I was blank but then I began to chuckle remembering a time many years ago when airplane reservations were made over the phone. I was planning to visit my friend in Lincoln, Nebraska. While making the reservation, the operator asked, “Do you have family in Nebraska?” I said, “No,” and her response was “No one goes to Nebraska unless they have family there.” I laughed and mentioned I was visiting a friend. Her response? “Oh, that makes sense.”
Off I went to visit and enjoy. I met many Nebraskans and most seemed to enjoy teasing me about California. When they heard where I was from, eyes rolled, smirks appeared, heads nodded with an “Oh” expression — the hippies, oddballs, and weird politics were mentioned. Now I am used to this. When traveling and mentioning California, I often experience these reactions. I laugh and return the tease, always thinking to myself how odd it is that people have such strong reactions about my state — but it is a given.
Returning home, I stopped by a gas station. Again, this is many years ago when we still had people pumping gas for us. I drove up to the pump and a very pleasant accommodating high school kid appeared. I thought to myself, boy, he must have good self-esteem. His head was shaved on one side, the other side was dyed bright green, and from front to back was a bright orange spiked three-inch mohawk. He had pierced ears and chains around his neck draped on his all-black outfit. I was not thinking much about him and then, suddenly, oh, this is what the Nebraskans are speaking of. Yeah, if they had just gotten off the plane and encountered him, they would probably run as fast as they could to return home, and I am thinking nothing of it.