Opinion

Stuck in the middle

Introductions in college usually start off with saying your name, year and where you’re from. I don’t see the point on the last question. Do professors like to share the fact that at one point they took geography or looked at a map and have a rough idea of where my parents live? Do they find it valuable to know this trivial fact?
I have two states that have equal claim to my life, neither of which provides any great insight into my personality. Both, however, get undue recognition from professors, which I don’t enjoy in a large classroom setting.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not ashamed of my Midwestern roots, I just resent the awkward questioning that professors find necessary. People from California get off easy. There’s usually some crack about the weather and then ‘so you wanted a change, huh?’
‘ So apparently professors can understand the coasts, but the vortex of square states in the middle of the country is so foreign that it demands further inspection. So for all you inquisitive coast-dwelling folk, and for the Midwesterners who share my grief, here’s how I’d like to answer my most popular questions.
I was born in Madison, Wis. Madison, the capital city, is in fact a city and not a large collection of farms. It is near the much more popular city of Milwaukee, home of the Miller Brewing Company and about four hours south of Green Bay.
If I choose to claim Wisconsin as ‘my state,’ I am asked one of two questions: First, do I like cheese? What a ridiculous question. Of course I like cheese. Anyone who has tried a Wisconsin cheese curd savors the memory. Those who haven’t must hold back their initial gag reflex at the name, because I assure you they are just like chunks of cheese, but better. This may also sound unappealing, but trust me, curd is something you should discover for yourself.
Second, do I like the Green Bay Packers? Almost as much as I like cheese, I usually respond. In all seriousness, I do mourn the loss of Brett Favre. The man and the legend was the quarterback of the Packers since I was a toddler. I don’t know how to watch the Packers without him. We accepted his crazy plays, which often resulted in interceptions, we overlooked his drinking, we praised his rehabilitation and we called it strategic when he shaved his legs.
I personally would have been fine if he continued to play until the nursing home, heck, even after that. I’m sure they could make one guy push his wheelchair around on the field. As an added bonus, it would be exceedingly difficult to tackle him.
The second half of my life was spent in Nebraska, which carries the connotation of being a desolate cornfield with scattered tractors and hicks. My ‘permanent address’ is in Omaha, which is also a city, not mid-cornfield.
Nebraska doesn’t generate as many questions as it does random facts. Mainly because people don’t know enough about it to ask me anything. Warren Buffet lives in Omaha. I reason that he was born there and native Nebraskans usually have a much greater sense of loyalty to the state than I ever care to know. Omaha has the NCAA College World Series, which was a good strategic move because of the exceptionally flat land for the playing fields. For the sports fan trying to think of a professional team that I could be a fan of, give up now. Nebraska does not own a single professional team. Much lamer sports fans will ask if I like the Corn Huskers, and, like the rest of the state, I will respond ‘Only when they win.’ And for those amused by the mascot, the University of Nebraska Lincolns’ Corn Husker is actually an improvement over their former one: Bug Eaters.’
‘ I have driven a tractor, but never to school. My family owns a dairy farm, but I have never lived on it. I say ‘pop,’ not ‘soda.’ I don’t say things are ‘wicked’ or ‘mad’ when I really mean ‘really.’
Yes, certain facts I can’t escape. In many ways, I do fit the Midwestern stereotype, but life’s really not that different. I did live in cities with electricity, plumbing and all them fancy things. I do not own overalls, a straw hat or cowboy boots and I do not attend state fairs. I have adjusted well to city life but am still incapable of delivering a short, logical answer to professors’ favorite question: ‘Why did you come to Boston?’

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