I was a little taken aback yesterday, when, during my weekly one-on-one with my boss, she said:
“Well you certainly don’t look like you’re from Iowa.”
I couldn’t help but scoff a bit (what, with her being from Wisconsin and all). It’s not that I’m new to the perceptions that outsiders have of Iowa. I’ve been asked the questions. I’ve watched the PBS Frontline on meth. And last weekend in D.C., D and I handed over our Iowa drivers licenses to our brunch waiter who commended us both for leaving the place.
“Ah, actually it’s a great place,” said D.
“Oh. Well I don’t know. I’m from West Virginia.”
So all day—and I mean all day, I kept thinking to myself, What do Iowans look like? What to people expect us to look like? How do they expect us to act?
Then last night, after a particularly rousing soccer match, half of our team decided to grab a beer at the roadkill café down the street. Upon entering, I was surprised to find a makeshift shrine to Kurt Busch and Mark Martin. Every food item on the menu was under $3.00. On the far wall hung a giant buck head. From the ceiling hung adverts for brands of alcohol I’m pretty certain the place didn’t even sell. The employees were clad in faded mom jeans, mesh shirts, and five cans of Aqua Net hairspray. Some fellow was wearing a Colorado Rockies-inspired Looney Toons shirt, much like the White Sox one my friend Kevin sported in 6th grade.
And I thought: This must be what people think Iowans look like.
Not so, friends. Not so. And believe me when I say I’m no better than the clientele at the roadkill café. I’m just saying there are people from all walks of life in just about any direction you look. That, and I’ve never seen a construction paper NASCAR shrine, laden in American flags, fake flowers and the ashes of bad lovers in Iowa.