Sunday, July 09, 2006

A composite conversation I had in Salt Lake City

"So, how do you know our host?"

"My friend works with him. I helped her move up here."

"Where are you from?"


"Really? You don't talk funny at all!"

"Well, that's just a stereotype that applies to 90 percent of the population."

[Cell phone rings in the melody of "Take On Me" by a-ha]

"Wow, that's an awesome ring tone! I love the eighties!"

"Me too! So you have '80s music back in Louisiana?"

"Yeah, and the '90s albums are set to hit stores next week."

"So how do you like Salt Lake?"

"I love it! The mountains are gorgeous and the weather is pleasant. And everything's so clean and well-funded."

"I heard Louisiana's not doing so well since Hurricane Katrina. Did it hit you badly?"

"Not where I live, no. Rita clipped us pretty badly, though. But we were lucky both times where I live. It was a tragic mess for so many people. I talked to lots of them firsthand, after they evacuated to our arenas."

"How's the rebuilding coming?"

"It's not. Entire sections of New Orleans and southwest Louisiana still look the same as they did the morning after the storms. And what rebuilding is going on is being marred by politics and incompetence."

"Really? I had no idea. It was in the news for awhile, but then it was gone. We don't hear about it at all anymore."

"Yeah, and that's pretty sad. But the newspapers and blogs in Louisiana are keeping the flame alive."

"Well I certainly hope it gets better. That's gotta be terrible."

"Indeed it is. It's cost thousands of lives and devastated our already-bad economy. Which is partly why I'm here; the job market is so much better."

"Come on, are you really from Louisiana?"

"Yes. Can you tell me where I can get something to drink?"

"How polite! You're so cute. The rum punch is over there, and the non-alcoholic punch is across the table."

"What's non-alcoholic punch?"

"Oh must be from Louisiana."


Anonymous said...

build a city below sea level and count on a few old ass pumps to keep water out of the bowl that is New Orleans, and you get what you get.

Ian McGibboney said...

I can see why someone would want to hide behind an anonymous handle for a comment like that.

If we let every American city die by saying "tsk-tsk," then we wouldn't have any cities left. Every square inch on Earth has its hazards, but not every square inch on Earth has the strategic value of New Orleans' location.

Funny how nobody tells Florida that it gets what it deserves year after year, huh? Or that California doesn't deserve help because it's on a major fault line?

jaime in metairie said...

Pre-K the most frequent and most annoying questions I was asked when people heard I was from New Orleans was "Have you ever been to Bourbon St?" or "Have you ever been to Mardi Gras?"

Now there is a host of even more stupid and uninformed questions for people to throw out.

Sealevel being just one of them....

jaime in metairie said...

Sorry about the grammer - I changed the post mid-stride and missed a few steps

Brookelina said...

Seriously, what's non-alcoholic punch?

yournamehere said...

Isn't non-alcoholic punch better known as Kool-Aid?

oyster said...

Some of those "old ass" pumps can drain a swimming pool's worth of water in two seconds. The floodwalls failed, not the pumps, anonypuss.

Second: did I read that exchange incorrectly, or did someone from Utah rag on Louisiana for being culturally backasswards?

Ian McGibboney said...

Oyster, I'll never understand why people rag on New Orleans so much for being where it is, while pouring out sympathies to places built on fault lines and other, equally precarious topography.

Louisiana misconceptions generally fall into two categories: condescending and innocent. Most of the misconceptions I've run into here fall under the latter category. The person who made the remark about music probably just assumed that, with our rich heritage of jazz, Cajun and Zydeco music, we didn't have time for anything else. I don't really hold that against her, but it does make for a nice piece of satire. That's a lot different than the group of Texan girls who randomly asked me if I was jealous because they were from Texas and I was holed up in Louisiana.

Utah people are actually very accommodating. I freaked out the first time I went to an Arby's drive-thru and heard a very courteous and professional voice. Even the guy who validated our parking in downtown Salt Lake at 2 a.m. was very polite and asked us if we enjoyed the movie. I don't know if that's a Mormon thing or what, but it's refreshing. And I'm surprised at just how tolerant people are here of other opinions. It's shocking, really.

Utah may not rank in the top 49 of liberal bastions in the United States, but neither is it the lockstep state that it often appears to be.

Michael said...

Utah may not rank in the top 49 of liberal bastions in the United States, but neither is it the lockstep state that it often appears to be.

That's probably the #1 Utah stereotype. I know I had all sorts of bizarre expectations of what I'd find the first time we ventured up thataway--expectations that were thoroughly dashed by the wonderful time we had, the polite natives we found, and the diversity of opinions (and most everything else) that they embraced.

I'm sure there's a seamy underside of Utah, just as there is of Louisiana or Texas or Illinois. But people who haven't been to those places really should go shooting off their mouths about what kind of people live there and how those people live their lives.