Whenever I tell someone I'm from the Midwest I get an answer along the lines of, "I should've guessed. You're so nice!" or "So that's why you're so smiley!" But until recently, it had been six months since I was in the Midwest, and my attitude was beginning to show it. I knew it was time to recharge, so I made plans to fly back a couple weeks ago. I wasn't five minutes out the door when I began to feel the Midwestern generosity wash over me. I submit for evidence:
Text to Iowa-born Coworker: Not gone 20 minutes and I just cheerfully gave money to a sketchy dude in the Metro. The Midwest takeover has begun.
His reply: At this rate, you’ll be wearing jeans and tennis shoes before supper.
Me: Supper! Ha!
Anyway, Columbus is awesome. Not just because of our Big Ten football team or our token billionaire fashion mogul. It’s awesome because you can travel across the entire region in 20 minutes flat, you can buy an 800 square foot condo for less than $200K, and the cheap pedicure places still use razors. In Ohio you can be at a baby shower, dressed in silk and cooing over onesies, and a guy might walk through the room carrying a turkey sandwich and a shotgun (it happened). No one will look up because it will be totally ordinary. I saw more McCain/Palin signs displayed nine months after the election than I saw in the entire District of Columbia during the height of the campaign. And then there are the sweet bits of Americana like this:
Which can also be borderline creepy like this:
Or downright disturbing:
Yeah, I'm not kidding. And no, these were not taken at my parents' house.
But for anyone who still blames Ohio for W’s re-election in 2004, I have proof that liberals are allowed to thrive there, albeit once a year and under police supervision. ComFest is an annual “anything goes” festival in Columbus that I make a point to return to each year. Sure there are mullets and Harley t-shirts and the occasional ZZ Top beard, but there are also Tarot cards, tye-dye and contact highs. Best people watching you can imagine.
In two days time, I began to wonder why I ever left. Awesome people, cheap real estate and easy living. I was somewhat saddened when I had to leave, and then the best thing ever happened: I got stopped going through airport security on my way back to DC. The reason? I had some candles in my suitcase that were in mysterious looking jars. (Btw these candles are made by hand in a hole-in-the-wall shop in Columbus and sell for $45 a piece at Fred Segal in LA. It was worth the risk to stock up at the local price of $12.) After the TSA agent determined I was not transporting anything dangerous in my candle jars, he busted me with some contraband liquids. I was fully prepared to part ways with my C.O. Bigelow Body Souffle when he shrugged and said, “You know normally you’d have to throw this away, but you look like a nice person so it’s cool.”
Which is why I love being from the Midwest.