So, lately I’ve noticed this weird thing that happens whenever I leave home. Home being, of course, good old Ohio. I’ve lived there my entire life, and never really took notice of it–it was just where I was, wasn’t anything special.
Then I left. Yep. Took off for college and went all the way to… Indiana. I know, I know, terribly adventurous. But nevertheless, it was far enough for me to realize that certain things I’d always taken for granted were actually idiosyncrasies of my home state.
For instance, that glorious sugary brown liquid that comes in cans and is probably full of cancerous chemicals. We call that “pop” in Ohio (and in some other areas of the midwest so I’m told). But here in Indiana, when I ring up a pop and ask them if they want their pop in a bag, they just stare at me. Because, yeah, apparently in Indiana they call a “bag” a “sack”. To me, an Ohioan through and through, “sack” is just a funny word that can be added to other words to talk about particular body parts but is otherwise useless. Another thing I noticed was that the things you pushed around the store and put things in, the ones with wheels. In Ohio, we call them “carts”. But here, they call them “baskets”. Okay, for me “baskets” signify Easter and candy and other such glorious things. It is the perhaps the mildest form of culture shock, but it’s culture shock nonetheless.
The thing about this, aside from the fact that I now stare customers in the face and forcefully ask them “Would you like your pop in a bag?” and just stare back if they give me a blank look, is that it fascinates me. Here we are, in the information technology age, with the internet and the television and all of these cultural equalizers, and yet a girl from one state over has all of this different colloquial expressions that people in Indiana don’t use. And vice versa. And that’s in the same COUNTRY. I can only imagine the glorious differences that we are still maintaining across the globe.
So yes. I appreciate the differences. They fascinate me .They really, really do. But it’s also fostered in me this weird sense of state pride that I never felt before. Frankly it never mattered at all to me that I was from Ohio until I was, in fact, no longer in Ohio. Now I feel myself perk up whenever someone on TV mentions they’re from Ohio. Oh, and they’re almost always from Cleveland. Which is almost always made to sound like a terrible, boring thing, and I confess that offends me a little. I mean, sure even we Ohioans have our thoughts about Cleveland. But last time I checked Ohio has other cities. Columbus. Cincinnati. (wait, why do they all start with a “c”?) So the thing is, I think, that no matter how equalized we all think we’re getting, America is still the melting pot. Or salad. Or whatever metaphor they use these days. And being proud of where you’re from, well, that’s okay.
Even if it means being a little insane and determinedly using words you know half the customers will stare at you for using. But yeah, that’s a bag I’m putting your pop in. And yes, I can get you a cart. Then, maybe, we’ll go to Kroger’s. Have some Skyline. No big deal.