Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Country within a County within a State?

Do you follow?

A Country within a County within a State. That's what it seems like sometimes in this part of West Virginia. In a sort of twisted way, I enjoy trying to figure people out. I like to notice body language, differences in accent, and most of all, colocialisms.

We in West Virgina are best I know with the colocialisms! A few that come to mind are:

We don't watch television, we "look at TV" as in

"I hardly ever look at TV"

We don't travel far distances we "go a fur piece" as in

"Dang, her house is a fur piece off the paved road!"

One of the most interesting things that I've noticed in our area is how different the people are if you travel 20 minutes in any direction from Huntington. West Virginia is not as rural at it used to be but small communities are still very much isolated and have their own quirks.

If I drive 20 minutes south of my house the people do an interesting thing. I find it very annoying but at the same time I enjoy trying to figure out why they do it.

The short of it is this:

They MUST figure out how they're related to you. They assume they are related to everyone in some way. They get right down indignant if they can't connect themselves to you in some way. I've even been the target of hillbilly smear campaigns because I'm not "one of them". This all makes me giggle a little inside. What made me think of this is an exchange I had at the library this morning.

A lady stood at the front counter and I was sitting in a comfy chair, knitting and waiting for my kids to get finished with their Spanish tutoring. I can't put my finger directly on it but I knew from whence she came. (I'm trying really hard lately to not end my sentences with prepositions,, bare with me,, I'll be sure to disappoint with more poor grammar in the future.) It's the way she held herself, her subtle accent, and the details that she was giving the librarian (that the librarian didn't need, btw). The librarian stepped back behind the glass to take care of the woman's inquiries. She was taking a while so the lady at the counter turned and looked for someone else in which to converse. (dang, it's hard to not end sentences with prepositional phrases!!) She immidiately zeroed in on me and came over to ask what my kids were doing. She had already ascertained that they were homeschooled and the 2 boys were mine. Now, this wouldn't take a genius to figure out but I know that she'd taken this information from the librarian. This is also a talent that the citizens of this area seem to have. They can ask people things and people will tell them. Now if anyone else asked these same questions, red flags would go off and people would shut down but OH NO,, not these people.

So she comes over and sits beside me and says " I could never homeschool"

I despise this comment. What I'd like to say is "no, you couldn't." but I try to be nice and I say "awhh, yes you could!!!"

She replies (and she'll now be known as SR, local people will immediately be able to assume what area of the county I'm talking about now!) "oh no I couldn't, I couldn't spend that much time with my kids!"

Thus the "no you couldn't"

I shrugged and gave her The Smile. You know the one,, the one that says "no comment". ha ha!

So SR then says (and this is where it gets good) "You look so familiar!!! I know I know you!"

Me- "oh? yeah,, I dunno"

SR- "who's your husband?" (I love the way she assumed I have one.)

Me- "Chris" (if you even ever knew me that should be enough to jog your memory, right?)

SR- "Chris who?"

Me- "Newman"

SR- "What's your name?"

Me- "Crystal"

SR- "I know I know you! Do you know Scott Eplin?"

Me- "no"

SR "What about Mike Eplin?"

Me- "no"

Then she gives me an incredulous look like I must not be from Cabell Co.

SR- "Are you related to the Johnstons?"

Me- "no"

SR- "Are you from here?"

Me- "all my life,, right here in Barboursville!"

SR- "Really?" "I thought for sure you'd know Mike, he's your age, he's 40"


wow... that's another story entirely. We'll save that. Don't remind me, ok? I'm NOT 40.

After about 20 more questions like that she started to get annoyed. She could NOT connect herself to me in anyway. So then she started her passive aggressive smear campaign.

"well, I was just curious." " I didn't mean to interrupt your ... whatever it is you're doing there"


Now, know that I was never in any way snotty or mean to this woman. I just wasn't related to her and didn't know anyone she knew! When she determined that I wasn't interested in playing the Incest Game with her she started taking a tone with me!

Oh,, this wouldn't be funny if I hadn't had it happen at least 100 times before! The most favorite conversation of these people is other people. They also like to judge you by who your family is. And people think that the Hatfields and the McCoys are not still alive and well!


Lara, the Neurotic Att'y said...

I hear ya, sister! I have an easy out because I'm not even FROM this area. When people who I KNOW I don't know say, "You look familiar," or "How do I know you?" I very quickly and honestly say, "Well, I'm not from here. I'm from the northern part of the state." They still ask, "Well, what's your last name?" When I say, "It's not a local name," they start in with the "Well, do you know so-and-so?" Lord have mercy! Are you with the FBI or something? I DON'T KNOW YOU! Know what else I hate? "You're a lawyer? Well, then do you know Mike Smith? He's a lawyer over in Greenbrier County." I guess it's like the old assumption that all ethnic minorities must know each other.

crystal said...

YES. You get it!! I knew I couldn't ba alone in this! LOL

Lawanda said...

I am afraid I do this! LOL But I hope I don't annoy people! I try not to do it, but honestly I am related to half the country around here, and went to school with the other half or if someone isn't in those halves, I prolly worked with them somewhere! hehe

But I live in Wood County, not Cabell ;)

And I get that "I could never homeschool" comment all the time too! *rolleyes*

crystal said...

Lawanda, it's different if it comes up in conversation but people just fishing for information is what's annoying!

Stephanie said...

Well as soon as I talk people know I'm not from here, so I get the "So where do you live." Then it begins in the who they are related to up on the ridge....Ah small town, I mean county, I mean state......LOL!

Becca said...

Hah! That is so funny!!! I guess military people kind of do a similar thing, "where were you stationed, what year was that, was so & so the commander, etc." We don't all come from the same county, but we're all in the same army family so it ends up alike!!

And that comment about age 40? Wow. I'd like to say I would have gotten up and walked away, but honestly, it might have taken several seconds for her meaning to sink in!

crystal said...

You're right. It knocked the wind out of me. I didn't have my bearings or I would have at least made a return rude comment!
At least in the Army they can't fault you for where you've been stationed. If the country folk around here find out that you're part of one family or another they'll totally use it against you!

Evil Twin's Wife said...

Hey, what's wrong with being 40? ;-D I don't get people doing this to me. Maybe I just look too mean to approach. LOL.

~Mary~ 4boys4me said...

well, I must say I've never ever uttered those phrases, even being born and raised in WV! But I do get the "Where do I know you from?" all the time. The thing is, I usually do know the person or at least my sisters do. One of the soccer mom's on Evan's team is the sister of one of my sister's best friends from high school! And how did we figure that out? B/c she overheard me telling someone else who thought she recognized me who I am. Oh, and the director of Ryan's football league used to date the same sister. LOL It all winds around to Tammy. hee hee

crystal said...

well, it's one thing to do the "hey!!! it's a small world isn't it!?" and then it's entirely something else to SEEK out information about people.

Tina said...

I found your blog through WVAHS. I tell ya people kill me! We will be at a store and this happens a lot.... someone will come up and say are your kids sick and I say no. Then they proceed in saying then did school let out early. I say no well I don't know. And they look at me and my oldest pipes up and states I am home schooled. To that we get this face... like are your from Earth look. Oh and I read you have chickens we do to and ours just started laying as well!