......finding a new home for lutefisk lovers.

(ok we don't love it. or even like it. but we're supposed to.)

30 May 2012

Let's Re-visit Geography

I've always made light of the fact that New Englanders have little to no knowledge of the geography that lies beyond revolutionary war (they probably would've capitalized that) battle sites..........because it's funny.   It's hilarious to watch well-educated adults struggle to find California on a map.

I am no geography whiz, but I could find every state on a US map.   I could tell you what their major cities are, if not their capitals.   I could tell you what the terrain and the climate are like and even take a stab at major industries.   I'm not bragging;  I'm guessing all of you could do the same.   The point is that this is basic knowledge.   But it's a basic knowledge completely lacking in the adult population of New England.

And, as of this weekend,  I reached my limit.   And now I'm officially offended.   I'm not laughing anymore when people think I'm moving to Indiana (Indianapolis, Minneapolis, whatever) or when they show real confusion at the mention of both Minneapolis and Minnesota  -  because they're not sure how they're related.   Or because they think they're the same thing.   Or because they're not sure which one is the state and which one is the city.   But either way,  they can't believe there's an airport there.

I'm not laughing anymore.

I told someone this weekend that I was moving to the Midwest.   When he asked "where"  and I said "Minneapolis"  and he said  "that's not the Midwest,"  I officially stopped laughing.   Instead of forging ahead with my usual diplomatic chit chat that would gloss over the fact that this guy doesn't watch the news or read a newspaper,  I got irritated.   I struggled to say something,  anything,  that didn't end in "dipshit."   And finally,  all I could manage was a growly  "It's the Midwest." (dipshit)

Mike saved me and took over the diplomatic chit chat by saying  "Well,  I suppose you could call it the Upper Midwest, you know, if you want to be really specific.....or......whatever......you know." 

The next night,  I struggled again when a dad commented about our move,  "(grunt) There's probably not much to do there.......except cow tipping."  

The great irony here is that the man making the statement parks his car in a barn.   And when he made the statement,  I'm pretty sure I heard donkeys braying.   In my head, I was like  "Actually, Minneapolis is a city.   Do you know what a city is?   Was that a donkey?"   I've lost the ability to respond lightly so I just stared at him,  which was enough to make him quickly make amends:   "Well, I guess there was nothing to do where I grew up either.   Just cow tipping. (snortle)." 

Ooh......close.   But no cigar.   I'll give you half credit for realizing you offended me.   But I'm taking it away for continuing to imply that there are cows in a major metropolitan city.

In those moments,  I remembered all the inane geographical gaffs over the last two years and fully felt how insulting they were.   Because the truth is that there IS geography education here.   Liam's 3rd grade class just finished their biggest unit of the year by researching every state in the union,  each child doing an at-home study of their chosen state and then designing and building a float to be showcased in the 3rd grade State Parade.   It was intense.   It was the most homework he has ever had in his short academic career.   On parade day,  the parents sat along the parade route in the gym, waiting for their child's state to be announced.   We all watched as each and every child-state walked by either pulling, pushing or wearing their creation...... and it was amazing  -   full of pomp and grandeur and the kids were so damn proud you couldn't help but want to go home and plan your trip to the Rockies right away.

So there is an attempt by the educational system to immerse students in the study of other places,  to acknowledge that other places exist and that they have value.   But if the adult New Englanders had that education and still think that there are no beaches in Minnesota,  that must mean that the geographical ignorance is deliberate.   In other words,  it's a deliberate attempt to ignore the facts and belittle every place that is not this place.

As I waited for Liam's state to emerge,  I asked the mom next to me who she was waiting for.  "Iowa,"  she snorted.   "I couldn't find Iowa on a map if you paid me."   

Yes,  funny funny,  ha ha, except that you just helped your child with a month-long at-home project focusing on the state of Iowa.   Complete with handmade relief map and fun facts.   If you still can't find the state of Iowa on a map,  you are either severely limited...........or severely disdainful.

So now I get it:   the people here flaunt their ignorance of other states to show how little they care.   They don't care because those other places are inferior to their superior location.  You know,  where the cool kids live.   They're the cool kids, the bullies, standing over you and trying to make you feel small. 

Hey New England:
It doesn't make you look cool.
It just makes you look dumb.

And I'm not laughing anymore.


Camille said...

Bravo. I live in a place that is the often the subject of such disdain (the south) and also where the people are fond of feigning ignorance of other parts of the country and/or world. You would think that being the subject of others' ridicule would make them take note of their own actions.

Anne Greenwood Brown said...

When my mom prepared to leave her Massachusetts college to come home to Minnesota for her Christmas break, her dorm mother almost refused to let her leave because she was so afraid my mom would be "attacked by wild Indians."

Granted it was only 1961, but . . . (no, forget that. There's no excuse.)