I’m from Oregon. Oregonians are hardly an oppressed minority, but I still get touchy when people assert that my statemates (neologism!) are ignorant. Here are some examples:
(1) I was in a guitar shop in D.C. I asked what that strange musical instrument was. He said, it’s an instrument from the Andes, made out of the body of an armadillo. I said I hadn’t heard of an instrument being made out of the body of an animal (skins and bones, yes, but not the whole body). He said, “Where did you go to high school”.
I said, “In Oregon”.
He said, “That’s probably why. In my high school [somewhere on the East Coast], we were taught mythology, and we learned that [one of the Greek gods, Apollo?] had made an instrument out of the body of a tortoise. It is called a kithara.” He then went on to talk about a musical competition between aforementioned kithara player and Pan, who played the panflute.
I was taught plenty of mythology in high school, but we didn’t learn that.
(2) A New Englander I know was talking about Graceland. I knew the Graceland / Elvis connection, but I had always thought it was the town he was from; houses don’t usually have names. (I know it’s a mansion now.) So I asked what exactly Graceland was when I figured out it wasn’t a town.
“Boy, you really are from the west coast.” What’s that supposed to mean? “Everyone I know from the west coast has no sense of geography.”
I guess I didn’t know geography and celebrity trivia were so closely related.
(3) Just this morning, a recent arrival to Oregon asked me where a certain bakery was. I’d never heard of it. He was dumbfounded. “The locals don’t know anything about their own town! I know more about it than they do!” I told him I prefer another bakery. He ignored me. “All Oregonians know about is where they work and where they live and where the tavern is.”
Is this a wider stereotype? I’m not asking if it’s true, just if it’s asserted often. Does “ignorant Oregonians/westcoasters” go with “garlicky Frenchmen”, “dramatic Spaniards”, and “intelligent/ suicidal/ hardworking/ subcaste-assassin Japanese”? Or did I just run into a couple of freaks?