Yeah, we spend our lives being perpetually insulted. It’s a fun existence. Besides our sexual proclivities, we also get how ignorant we are, how fat we are, how racist we are and a whole host of other wonderful things.
My Dad was crossing the border into Canada in the 70s and the border guard looked at his license and said, “I didn’t think you wore shoes.” Dad said, “They give us a pair whenever we leave the state to impress people.”
One time I was in London in I guess the late 2000s and my wife and I were in the British Library and actually in the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibit and as is frequently the case, my wife was wearing a WVU shirt. A guy comes up to her and shoves her and actually shoves her and tells her that at some football game he was at WVU fans were rude and arrogant to him (I think it was the Sugar Bowl against Georgia.) I step in between them and say, “Dude, we’re trying to enjoy the Library. We weren’t at that game and it was in your own state, so they were probably fans from Georgia. What do you want us to do?” He pushes me again, says, “You can F*** off.” and storms out of the Library. Weirdest thing ever. Usually when we’re wearing WVU gear out of state, we run into West Virginia ex-pats and will go out to dinner or chat for awhile with them, but this time it got us into trouble. I don’t know what the heck happened to him at that game, but it must have been bad.
These days we get a lot of patronizing about our poverty and opioid addiction. In some ways you feel like a Victorian era curiosity. It’s amusing when we are out-of-state and they are raising money for Appalachian poverty relief or going on a mission trip to West Virginia. To be honest, I’ve learned to live with it. We really do have serious structural problems and if people want to help out, I guess I should let them. My mama always said to not let your own pride get in the way of their blessing.
It’s actually a nice place to live. We have rock climbing 15 minutes away and whitewater rafting within a half hour. Lots of little cultural festivals around the state. The Mon National Forest is a million acres of public land you can just do what you want on. We’re the third most forested state in the country after New Hampshire and Maine with roughly 80% of our land area covered in trees. I go fishing on my lunch break. Our summers are largely cool and our winters are tolerable outside of the Alleghenies. Our only natural disasters of note are floods and I’m 300 feet above the floodplain, so not a big deal. I live an hour from Pittsburgh and 3 from DC and Baltimore, so I go to Pittsburgh all the time and DC every few months when I want city amenities. I see eagles, otters, beavers and pretty much every other east coast animal regularly. Short commute, reasonable housing costs, friendly people. It’s a nice place.
Anyway, this whole digression is simply to say that ‘Yes, West Virginians get asked some really interesting and at times offensive questions.’