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It's not Lawn Guyland, it's Long Island

It's not Lawn Guyland, it's Long Island

When most of the new people that come into your life are met over an internet connection, itís a good bet that most of those people will be from somewhere you are not. And itís a good bet that they will have pre-conceived notions about the place you come from. I try not to be guilty of that. Iím not going to assume you spend your day farming potatoes if you are from Idaho. I am not going to assume you are a redneck if you are from Alabama. I wonít automatically think you a vampire if you are from Austria (I once heard that all vampires were from Austria).

So when I say I am from Long Island, please donít assume the worst about me. I know youíve heard the stereotypes. Iíve heard the jokes. Iíve heard the assumptions. Letís take some time to dispel them, shall we?

Long Island is not a series of strip malls and highways. There are farms and museums and aquariums. Amusement parks, glorious beaches, tourist attractions and sports teams. Thereís an enormous park that once hosted the Goodwill games.

Long Island is not a series of small, cliquey communities where the girls all have big hair and Gucci bags. Take my town for instance. After 39 years here, I still donít know all the street names. We have five elementary schools. 2 high schools. Population: 51,000. No, I donít know everyone by name. Never will. As for the girls with the big hair and designer bags, yes they do exist. But not in great numbers. We are not all daddyís little girl driving around in a paid for BMW with a bumper sticker that says yield to the princess. We are not all spoiled, whiny brats who spend our days in malls harassing sales clerks.

The accent? Donít have it. I donít say mawl instead of mall or cawfee instead of coffee. I donít sound like Fran Drescher. No one I know talks like that. If they did, I would smack them daily.

Maybe if I got all my knowledge of the culture of other cities and states and countries from sitcoms and entertainment news, I would be just as ignorant of the real people behind the doors. I would assume that Canadians say nothing but eh and aboot. I would assume that Irish people do nothing but drink and all Scottish people wear kilts. California girls are all dumb and blonde and weigh 98 lbs in soaking wet bikinis. Boys from New Jersey all have mullets and listen to Bon Jovi.

See how ridiculous that is? You would get mad, or at least insulted if I made a generalization about you based upon the place you are from, so why do it to me? I mean, why make only the bad generalizations? Did you know that 88 semifinalists of out of 300 for the Westinghouse Science Competition were from Long Island this year? Go ahead and assume Iím smart and talented in the sciences. Think Iíd be flattered? Guess again. Itís still an assumption based on my place of birth. Iím not saying itís in line with other, more insulting forms of blatant stereotyping, but it still annoys me. It still pisses me off that people think I am a rich, spoiled daddyís girl who can do nothing but shop and talk funny, just because of where I live.

Long Island, like any other place on the map, is a mixture of everything good and bad. It is a place of very poor families, of shelters for battered women and drunk drivers. It is a place with high crime areas and jails full of child abusers and rapists. It is a place where the trees keep disappearing in favor of roadways and Walmarts. It is a place where people are rude and in a hurry and donít know how to be civil to one another.

But it is also a place of culture and riches. It has vineyards and mansions. It has towns I canít enter without previous written permission. It has a shoreline that graces you with the most beautiful sunsets during the summer.

For all its vastness and differences, and despite its prevalence of concrete and Home Depots on every corner, I love it here. I am not defending my choice to live here. I am defending my right to be viewed as something other than a caricature or a combination of behaviors you have seen on television.

Comments

I definately know all about stereotypes. As mostly everyone knows, I provide tech support for cable internet in the states. I live in Ottawa,Canada. So I get "You don't sound Canadian" or "It's so weird you don't have an accent" etc etc. We do so eh alot but I think everyone does. I don't know about the aboot thing. I try hard to not to have preconceived notions about what people are like. I am just happy to get to know them.

I don't think I ever thought anything much about Long Island except....A) that's the place that the iced tea is named after (or whatever it is) and B) how close is that to where the Great Gatsby took place?

But then again, I'm too busy refuting various allegations about Utah and San Francisco and Arizona to say much. :)

I come from a town called Milton Keynes where we do have concrete cows, there are too many roundabouts, the houses do look like they're made of lego, all the shops do sell shoes and half of the people do have a London accent (I don't though). Everything everyone's said about the place is true... but I love it, as there's no-where else quite like it.

Uhh... Michele... I should probably find myself a concrete bunker before saying this... but you kind of do have the accent. [sheepish smile] It's not strong to the point of being grating, but it's there.

Then again, most people seem to think that I'm accent-less.

Unfortunately, so many stereotypes about Alabama are true. I still love it in the South - we tolerate weirdness here in a way I didn't experience up North. I think it's the heat and humidity.

Benway: Isn't Milton Keynes mentioned in Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens? The town that neither God's side nor Satan's side can take credit for, and both are secretly confused about how and why it sprouted up?

Yes, and everyone from Michigan who doesn't live in Detroit is a farmer and everyone who does live in Detroit works in a car factory. It's funny the things people pick up on and remember, and scary how somebody's bad first impression can skew an entire town or state.

By the way, everyone in Canada does say "eh" (constantly). Not only that, it's contagious... spend any amount of time there and you catch it. Makes you want to slap your own mouth.

You're right. All the girls in California are not dumb, but they do weigh 98 lbs in soaking wet bikinis. And all of us Californian men have tight abs.

When someone I was having an online conversation with found out I was from the South, she asked me if I had a Confederate flag on my car. I said "Yes, but I don't believe in what it stands for, so I put the sticker on upside down." I don't think she got the joke.

Thanks for that. I definitely understand what Long Island is all aboot now, eh.

Pfish: I've never read that, but it sounds about right

michele... ya gotta admit, tho... your 'tude matches the stereotype. hey, there's nothing wrong with that, either. i sure as hell wouldn't fuck with you....

"It is a place where the trees keep disappearing in favor of roadways and Walmarts."

Lest we not forget parking spaces for the 30ft SUVs, also.

I couldn't pick a Long Island stereotype out of a lineup. I certainly hadn't heard the Gucci one. Sorry that certain recent generalizations were unkind. :(

I have heard that if you order iced tea anywhere in Long Island, you automatically get that terrific alcohol filled beverage, the Long Island Iced Tea. And that to get non-alcoholic iced tea, you have to specify. Is this true??!!???? I hope so! I find that endearing.

yeah, and um amy fisher and joey buttofuckio come from there, so don't mess with michele!

Pfish: yes, it's the town from Good Omens, though Milton was a famous economist.

I thought that was John Maynard Keynes who was the economist. :)

I named my rubber rat John Maynard Keynes the Third.

funny, i think i fit many stereotypes for san francisco... but not for wisconsin which is where i'm originally from. you haven't gone through years of people asking, "oh, did you go cow-tipping?"

I've been spending a week each summer in Long Island, but my experience is limited to Cold Spring Harbor, and a pizza place called "Little Vincent's". When experiments run late, it seems to be the only place open. Last year these two lawn guyland guys came in to order a pizza, but the guy behind the counter looked hispanic. They weren't happy about this, and they started giving the guy a hard time.

"Is this gonna be an Italian pizza? 'Cause you don't look Italian."

It couldn't have been more deniro-esque. But I knew it wasn't representative of everyone. Just a couple of tough guys who like to hang out at little vincent's.

Try being from Texas . . .
Wait, Dallas is all strip malls and highways. But we don't all listen to country music, ride horses, wear Stesons and boots, drive pickups, beat up gay people, live in trailers, sound like rednecks . . .

I'm from Jersey, so I'm pretty used to the stereotypes. And NO it is not funny when you ask me "You're from Jersey? What exit?"
Anyway, my favorite vacation spot is on Long Island. Southern fork, past the Hamptons. The Montauk/Sag Harbor ish area. ahh. Montauk is the perfect seaside town. PERFECT. And that means alot, coming from a Jersey girl who goes down to the shore pretty often. Montauk is great, plus there's no annoying boardwalk. And Gosman's Dock is really kickass.
If you take a look at the stereotyped me, it'll look pretty sad:
A girl who has lived in Jersey her whole life, vacations on Long Island, and wants to attend SUNY Stony Brook (LI school).

Anyway, this is a year after you first posted this, so I'll end it at that

Hello, have fun with easy blogging!