Jun 22, 2010

Stereotypes in the city

I think it's been well established that I love my home state(s). A lot. I could talk about Big, Wonderful Wyoming or the Good Life in Nebraska for days. Unfortunately for people I meet, sometimes I do just that.

But the one thing I don't love about being from the WyoBraska area is the stereotypes that are often placed on the good folks from that area. Now, don't get me wrong... we do fulfill a lot of those stereotypes. I'd say folks out in my home states are a little old-fashioned, we're about five years behind in clothing fashion and are sometimes a little... um... culturally sheltered.

But if I am asked one more time if we all have this neat thing called electricity out in the wild west or if I rode my horse to school growing up, I will hog tie someone and drag em' through a pasture of yucca plants.

Now how's that for a stereotype?

Ok, it's been a while since I've been asked a truly outrageous question like that, although it has happened. But I do often get, "Oh, ya.... I've been to Wyoming. Jackson Hole!" Or, "You come from a cattle ranch out West? Your family probably run a couple thousand head then, huh?" Then there's, "Nebraska?! I drove across I-80 once... there is seriously nothing there. I mean nothing. You must have been reeeeaaally bored growing up." And then my personal favorite.... "So, how's the trailer court?"

As it turns out, I have no room to judge people who place stereotypes on my home states. A few weeks ago, I visited New York state. I spent a few day on a cattle ranch. Every time I told someone from home I was on a cattle ranch in New York, I got about the same reaction.

"A ranch?! In New York? What do they have, five, ten little pet cows?"
"Oooohh! New York City?! Did you see Sarah Jessica Parker?"
"Hahahahahahahahaha. Hahaha. Haha. No really, Laura. What are you doing in New York?" 

And I didn't blame them. After four trips to NYC over the past seven years, these are the things I knew to be true about New York:

It's a concrete jungle. Sky scrapers, bridges, and brick: it's a convoluted mess of metal and pavement. New Yorkers wouldn't know a natural building material if it gave 'em a splinter.
It's a non-stop hustle-bustle, and you've got to watch your back. It's best to hope you're in a mob of people at a street crossing, because there's no way anyone is stopping for you in any other circumstance... unless it's to rob you.
Speaking of driving... who really drives there, except cabby's? No one really owns a vehicle. If they do, it's not more than a year old, is black, has deep tinted windows and a paid driver in the front.
And thanks to all those crowded cabby's, there's no such thing as a clear, blue sky. A black cloud of smog hangs over New York all the time. I don't think they've ever even seen the stars or a full moon, much less a sky full of lazy white clouds.
Worst of all, nobody cares about a single person there. In a place full of people trying so hard to stand out and show off how unique they are, there's no such thing as really being noticed. You blend in with the masses... just another brick in the wall.
And large animal livestock? Fa-ghetta-bout-it! New Yorkers might as well put their knowledge of cattle and unicorns side-by-side and see what feeds our country faster.
 Speaking of things that don't exist in New York... let's talk about personal space. I feel claustrophobic stepping two feet east of the Mississippi.
Oh, wait... am I being too stereotypical?

Thanks, Rally Farms, for opening up a whole new view of New York to me. Less than 100 miles from the city, I found a place that blew all my preconceived notions of the Empire State out of the water. It was beautiful and idyllic and most of all, functioned like any other great ranch I've spent time at -- with a love for the land, the cattle, family and hard work.
But I'm still waiting to run into Sarah Jessica Parker. And Mr. Big. Jay-Z would be cool too.