Am I the only 48 year old white woman with ZERO street cred who cranks Tupac and occasionally tosses "rap lingo" into my vocab? I'm thinking no, but I am aware that we are few and far between, which is (most likely) a GOOD thing.
But I do love me some Tupac, yo.
Anyway, "California Love" has become my theme song since moving to the Nawth County (northern New York, for those of you who don't remember or haven't been paying attention to my relentless whining over the past 4 months). I will get into my smokin' HAWT shiny red HHR (which my children have dubbed "The Brave Little Toaster"... SUCH an uncool name for my fabulous little car!), click on my iPod, and crank up Tupac as I drive the .0006 miles to the Big M. For those 30 seconds (if you're wondering why I just don't WALK to the end of the block... BITE ME) I am large and in charge, California from the tips of my tri-colored hair to the bottoms of my Rocket Dog flip-flops, to the core of my being, to my Ed Hardy skullandrosesblingblingggg sunglasses and my I'llnevergettiredofcarryingit Ed Hardy bag. I may be a lone golden poppy in a sea of Empire State license plates and no-nonsense mom-jeans, but I'm blissfully content while doing it.
Then I wilt in the heat and humidity and watch my beloved Amish trot on by (which I still find as charming as a herd of newborn puppies) and it hits me, all over again, how far from my Motherland I actually am.
If you stay on one side of the country (right, left, up, down) it probably doesn't occur to you that the US of A is awash with cultural and locational diversity. California is as far removed from New York as New Hampshire is from Alabama, and while we may giggle at it while watching it on sitcoms, actually LIVING it is a whole different ball of wax.
I always thought I'd rock as a New Yorker. I mean, I'm cool, I'm hip, I'm artistic...
But my cool, hip, artisticness is more at home in San Francisco than it is in NYC. Or so it turns out.
The main differences that I've noticed between me and everyone else in this place are:
1. I'm WAY more friendly. It's not that they're UN-friendly, it's just that they're more... reserved. No one strikes up a conversation with a total stranger in the check-out line at the Price Chopper. No one waves and giggles and yucks it up with the Soccer Mom power-walking her baby to the park. No one's naughty pug is running down the street dragging her leash behind her because they accidentally dropped it while fumbling with their cellphone because a perfect Amish photo-op appeared out of nowhere on their street. No one gives a shit that you did your own weave with 5 different hair colors and has stopped to compliment you while you're trying to find a gd lime in the produce section.
2. I'm wayyyyyyyyy more touchy-feely. Note to self: New Yorkers do NOT appreciate it when a complete stranger grabs their hand and asks them who does their nails.
3. People who are employed do not tend to have visible tattoos. It even appears in the employment section of North Country News: "No smokers, piercings, or tattoos." That would eliminate about 70% of the state of California. I got my first tattoo 25 years ago in a tattoo parlor in Laguna Beach. Here in northern NY, there AREN'T any tattoo parlors. OR tattoos. The only person with a tattoo I've seen since I've been here is Mr. Awesome, who, while being something of an asshole, is also very well inked. And, it turns out, from Ohio. (And really buff. Lord have mercy. A well-built, good-looking asshole WILL turn my head every. Single. Time. But only for a moment, and only to appreciate. I will then promptly go back to hating him the second I climb into the shower and have no hot water.)
4. My rambling conversations and segues that seemingly have no connection are almost impossible for New Yorkers to follow. While Californians have no problem keeping up with non sequiters (in fact, we've turned them into an art form), New Yorkers seem to expect a conversation to flow smoothly from point A to point A and a half, with no stops in between to discuss your purse, your shoes, your hair, People Magazine, Cosmo, the weather, astrological signs, your dog, your children, Who's Who on your list of Celebs Who Have Had Cosmetic Surgery, which cosmetic procedures YOU'D like to have done, and your friend Wendy's daughter Venice. I'm starting to notice that when I'm in the middle of a monologue (which is what all of my conversations are turning into), the person I'm talking to will start to slowly back away, their eyes glazing over, a look of fear and confusion on their faces. It has the tendency to almost make me stop talking.
5. No one here shows off any cleavage, y'all. Seriously. The only boobs making an even partial appearance in the Nawth Country are mine. I've always considered cleavage an accessory to whatever look I'm trying to achieve. Boobs are good. Boobs make a statement. Boobs are there to lift, separate, decorate, tattoo, enhance, augment, and flaunt. Am I right? So why are all these northern New Yorkers so damn buttoned up??? I don't get it.
6. Even I'M starting to get that I'M the one here with an accent. The flat nasal tones of the locals clash decidedly with my slow-fast-shortened vowels and drawn out syllables. When I hear myself say, "Ohhhhh rillyyyyyyyyy?" or "Whaaaaaaatttt?" or, most recently, "What is UPPPP with this weatherrrrrrrrr? I mean, like, the heat? I'm totallyyyy good with it... but the humidityyyyy? Ummm...NO" I see a giant Paris Hilton hanging over my head saying, "You're one of us... that's HAWT."
And I die a little inside.
It's not like I want to talk like the locals. Oh, dear GOD, no. Sometimes listening to the locally made commercials is like sitting through a kazoo concert. Everything comes straight out their noses and sounds like a goose honking. (Which I may or may not imitate, for my own buck-snorting amusement, in the privacy of my own livingroom.) It's just that I do so adore talking, but I hate that when I do? I sound kind of like a snotty bitch, compared to everyone I'm talking to.
It's a small price to pay, I'm sure, for the glory and good fortune of being born a Native Californian.
But I'm not super thrilled with feeling like the Cheese Standing Alone every time I leave my house.