Last night, my boyfriend said I was “so east coast.” [For the record, I realize he has popped up in my last few posts as a main character, but I swear I have other friends in Boulder]. Anyway, this “east coast” comment was not meant to be a compliment. Substitute “east coast” for “rude,” “uncouth” or “uncalled for” and you will have a pretty good idea of the tone used in this statement.
Navigating through moderate traffic, I realized a little late that I was supposed to be in the far right lane. Alas there seemed to be no break in the congested line of cars to my right. Prospects looked grim until I spotted my golden opportunity; Right next to me there was about a two and a half foot gap between an SUV and a sedan. The driver of the sedan, a young woman talking on her cel phone presented little threat of rapid advance, as she was clearly otherwise engaged. (Who said talking and driving was necessarily bad?) I seized my opportunity, jerking the wheel hard to the right as I slid into the desired turning lane at a 45 degree angle, simultaneously looking over my right shoulder, hoping to catch her eye with my hallmark “cute face.” This usually works best on male drivers, especially when both parties’ windows are open, but it never hurts to use a facial expression to say “I’m sorry, I know I am cutting you off but really what choice do I have, I need to get in your lane, and you know I would do it for you.” As I mentally congratulated myself on getting over before approaching the traffic light, Dan remarked on my east-coastness.
What? I don’t get it. What was so “east coast”? If by “east coast” he meant I am from Rhode Island, I just moved here, I don’t know the area, I had to get over fast, and I wished I still had my RI plates so other drivers would cut me some slack, well yes I am “east coast” thank you very much. This however was not what he meant. The Colorado native clarified his statement.
“I’ve never seen anyone do that!”
“Come on! You’ve never done that!?”
“What would you have done?”
“I would have put on my blinker and waited for someone to let me in.”
“My blinker was on! Seriously? Wait for someone to let you in? You’d be sitting here till 2010!”
It occurred to me much later, maybe Colorado drivers aren’t as mean as New England drivers. Maybe out here, someone would have actually been nice and let him in. This isn’t Rhode Island, after all.
Come to think of it, one of the reasons I left the Ocean State was that people tend to be a bit harsh there. Cashiers at the supermarket don’t typically look you in the eye, strangers scowl and look at the ground if you say “hi” when you pass them on the street, and they typically don’t let you merge in traffic.
On the other hand, I moved back home from North Carolina in part because it was so… Southern. Below the Mason Dixon line, I was annoyed with being referred to as a “Yankee.” At work, I grew tired of being eyed suspiciously by my patients once I opened my mouth. Inevitably they would inquire with faux interest, “You’re not from round hare, are you?”
“No, I’m from Rhode Island, actually.”
“New Yowerk… Ah thawt so. Ah could tale by your ayccent.” What accent!? YOU’RE the one with the accent, my friend! I would resist the urge to tell them to look at a flipping map sometime, and go on, with a smile plastered on my face, business usual. If religion came up I would just listen politely. A Yankee was one thing, but a Yankee Jew!? A good god-fearing Southerner just feels bad for a heathen like myself. In the Tarheel State I talked too fast and I was too blunt.
So in the South I was considered a Yankee, out here I am “so east coast,” and back home I was annoyed with the rudeness. It seems I can’t win. I can however merge into any lane I want with minimal, if any notice. My RI plates may be dead as far as the Colorado DMV is concerned, as they collect dust in the backseat of my car, but they are alive in my heart.