Playing with a bigot

Today I went to my hair appointment before I left Idaho and drove to the Seattle area bunker. The lady who was just finishing up in the chair next to me turned and said, “Hello Barbara Scott.”

We had a pleasant short conversation about Dixie where she is trying to sell a bar and house — a remote and beautiful part of Idaho. We briefly talked about Boomershoot and another long distance shooter she had read about in the Lewiston Tribune. After she left a man in expensive “casual” dress sat down.

While he was getting his silver grey hair cut, he started talking about his former student who he had seen working at Tri-State. Apparently this was a typical “Idaho boy” — his words — who was poorly motivated, not very smart, married by the time he was twenty, etc. My ears perked up.

“A typical Idaho boy?”, I said.

He said, “Oh, yes. A typical Idaho boy.”

“Well tell me about this, I am very interested”

He said, “Of course this is an East coast point of view.”

And he told me all about it repeating the “this is an East coast point of view” line several times.

I said, “That is fascinating! I’m just a physical therapist and I can’t wait to tell my husband and son who both work for Microsoft all about it. They’d like to hear about a “typical Idaho boy.”

He muttered again, “It’s just an East coast point of view.”

About that time his hair dresser who is another Idaho boy chimed in, “Well, I’ve got all my teeth.”

I congratulated him and said something like, “We just got our first indoor toilet last year and really like it!”

The conversation died. The man looked kind of truculent.

I was having fun with the conversation and was really disappointed because there was a great deal I hadn’t got to say. Like my son graduated Suma cume laude from college and he was a National Merit Scholar. My husband is an Idaho boy who has been written about in Newsweek, Outside Magazine, Idaho Magazine, Motorcyclist magazine, and has been on television and radio several times. And my brother is a professor at Loyola in Chicago and I would have liked to have mentioned all the savvy men who like to work in lower stress jobs in the Idaho paradise where they can spend their off time hunting and fishing instead of spending hours commuting to work. But that’s just an Idaho point of view.


11 thoughts on “Playing with a bigot

  1. In 1967 my husband and I moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts so that he could attend MIT. While he was in class I taught elementary school. Upon learning that I was from the Pacific Northwest people asked if we were still having problems with the Indians; did we have have television, etc. Ignorance knows no geographical boundaries.

  2. I’ll get a little of this occasionally from my wife. I’m from Tennessee, and she’s from New Jersey with a father who’s a professor in math at Columbia. For example, we were talking about my childhood friend who has two Ph.D.’s, one in economics and one in political philosophy. She made some comment about how well he’d done given his “low-culture” upbringing.

  3. I don’t know, Carolyn, I would argue that the snooty nature of Cambridge, along with the political and racial (Its scary how the faces change when you cross from one side of the tracks to the other, or from one side of a major road to the other) isolation appears to breed bigotry.

    Barbara’s little encounter is tame compared to what I overhear at gatherings when they think everybody is like minded can be downright gut-turning.

    But they keep telling themselves they’re “enlightened” and that the world outside the ivory tower is just so bad and horrible, that it isn’t worth looking.

    Actually the Tea party events have stirred up a LOT of this. The opponents are so quick to claim “Racism” or “Nazis” or “Klansmen” with no outside stimulus. And of course they won’t bother to actually inspect the subject of their ridicule, as they are “Racist, Nazi Klansmen” and far to dangerous to go near.

  4. Ok, we all know that keeping your teeth in Idaho is just because of the clean living. It’s not like there are dentists or anything in the state. In fact I’m pretty sure that, once you get more than 100 miles from an ocean, the laws of physics change so drastically that x-rays don’t even work. But it’s okay. The hippies will all be there soon to enlighten you all. They’ll have to go somewhere once they finish destroying California.

  5. That’s not an “East Coast point of view”. Most New Englanders I know are pretty conservative, and fair–but rather curt, to be honest. As for the bigoted true believers of social engineering, there’s not so much an ivory tower on which they stand as there is a white plastic bag into which they shove their heads. Tightening it around the neck to keep out the mean old world has consequences in the near future.

  6. That’s a great story, though it took quite a long time to read, what with having to sound out all the words while humping my cousin, guzzling moonshine and dodging arrows and all. What really sucks is that when I want to view a web page, it arrives three months later by pony, having been hand-printed on parchment rolls.

    Actually, the largest concentration of rednecks (of all colors) I’ve run into so far was in the Anaheim area, south of Los Angeles. I’d seen more of California than some of them, and I’ve only visited the state a few times. One of them had never heard of the California Redwoods. I never did find a good cup of coffee there either.

    I really don’t mind the silly caricatures of Idahoans. If people elsewhere already think we’re crazy, so much the better for us. We don’t have to work so hard at convincing them.

  7. The same sort of things are said about Tennesseans, & we have just as much fun with them. I think of them as “Uptowners”–as in ‘I live uptown, I’m part of the smart set, we’re important’, etc. I know some fine & good folk who live uptown in the city nearest to me, but the majority seem to be the other kind: rather condescending.
    Hang on, please–Sis, my wife, just shot a ‘possum, & I just can’t let that go. Uncle Adolph (our dad, we think) would be furious.
    I liked the Lewis piece in Motorcyclist.

  8. Barbara, I know your bemusement…

    About two years ago my wife and I moved to Idaho from D.C. My in-laws live on Long Island, my sister and her hubby live in New Jersey, and the bulk of our friends and associates are scattered between Boston and the D.C.-metro area. We’re familiar with the “East Coast point of view”.

    Any time any of our new neighbors asks how we’re adjusting to the culture shock I explain that I’m a mid-westerner by birth and, as such, am far more comfortable in Idaho than I ever was on the east coast. I then go on to explain my theory that the east coast (with very few exceptions from the Carolinas and Georgia) is positively infected with an arrogance born of self-absorption, naked ambition and a love affair with the “right” zip codes, car makes, and job titles. “D.C. is Hollywood for ugly people” could be broadened to include any major metro area on the Atlantic coast.

  9. Funny, that’s how I imagine East-Coasters to be, all hayseed yokel inbred and ignorant. As a Californian I never considered Idaho to be much different than us who were farsighted enough to move away from the traditional corruption endemic in The East – except more conservative – and to me now, that’s a feature not a bug.

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