Wednesday, April 24, 2013



I love The Midwest.  I love it and I have lived here my whole life.  Therefore I am within my rights to speak my mind about it.

The Midwest is cursed with an interminable sameness.  The fields that line the highways go on forever, unchanging.  The parents at high school sporting events in every town act the same, yelling at the players, coaches and officials not only as if they were experts, but as if anyone cared what they thought.  The same people, the next day, will be as Iowa nice as the day is long.

Midwest downtowns all sport identical buildings, even in the cities.  The downtowns of Des Moines, Minneapolis and Chicago look fundamentally the same.  Chicago, of course, is older, but the only real difference is one of scale.  As you turn, counter-clockwise, starting at Chicago, through these three cities you will see that the downtowns shrink in hight and extent but otherwise do not change in their appearance, like clonal trees sprouted decades apart.

But this is only part of the story.  The Midwest can also jump out of an unseen shadow and press a surprise into your hand, not only unforeseen but unique.

Is it still a surprise if you go looking for it?  I think so.  Certainly it is if you don't know what you are looking for.

Here is where I could drag out all of my most charming stories of pleasant surprises that have come to me in all of my favorite Midwestern towns like Rochester, Des Moines, Minneapolis and little burgs in Iowa you have never heard of.  All you really need to know is that these things happened.  They are my charming stories.  You can get your own.

That's the point, actually.  You can and you should.  Among the numbing tedium that threatens to overwhelm us here in the planes/plains there are surprises to be enjoyed.  Just tonight my hostess at a sushi restaurant pointed out that even though I only ordered a few pieces of nigiri I would have saved three dollars with the "all you can eat" special.*  Now, that's my story and you can't have it but it is a legitimate, if small, example.  Nothing like that has ever happened to me in San Francisco...and on each of my trips to the Bay Area I have eaten as much sushi as humanly possible.

Get out there.  Do stuff.  Talk to people.  Be surprised.  The Midwest wants to make being here worth your time.

There isn't much to be done about the endless fields.  Grains and beans just take up a lot of space.



* Ordinarily "all you can eat" and "sushi" are incompatible concepts, for all the same reasons sushi on a buffet should be approached with extreme caution.  The sashimi was perfectly good--mild flavor, no fishy smell.  I have no idea how this restaurant is making any money.  Maybe they gouge for draft beer in their bar.  I should check on that!

1 comment:

yrmama said...

Buffets are always a bad idea. The upper midwest is usually a good one.