I may have lived here and even, it’s almost possible to say, grown up here, but Western Pennsylvania still sort of… weirds me out.
Some things I have fully embraced, like french fries on salads and cookie tables at weddings.
Other things I am able to just ignore without it bugging me anymore, like saying “pop” or “ye’uns”.
There are a few things that are… different… no matter how you look at them, but I accept them, such as the hitching post outside of WalMart for the Amish horses. (Side note – does anyone else find it weird to see Amish folks buying potato chips and Oreos?)
But, every once in a while I am reminded how positively weird W. PA can really get. After an absence of three years with only weekend visits or the occasional week at home, it’s really eye opening to be back living here for a couple of months and observing the locals.
For example, the extremely large woman in clothes not even fit for a Salvation Army bin getting into her souped up, spotlessly white Buick Rendezvous. Obviously, she felt that her money was better spent on a custom made license plate than things like… shampoo.
Then there are the “dudes” who are “cruisin’” (please accept the loose usage of that term… I don’t have anything better to use) around the neighborhoods on the edge of town with the windows down and blasting rap music… over a querulous stereo in a 1982 pickup with the bottom rusted out, a sticker on the back that says “Bush/Cheney” and while wearing a baseball cap with a fishing license pinned to the back.
Or the fact that work boots and snug jeans are perfectly acceptable going-out-for-the-evening wear. Let me clarify. It wouldn’t be that weird if it was paired with a nice, clean, button-down shirt (this is a rural area after all) on an older man. But a 21 year old boy with his highly-coiffed girlfriend, wearing his snug jeans and work boots with an old high school t-shirt with the sleeves cut off? Really girls, have some respect for yourselves.
Oh, Western Pennsylvania. I love you.
And if you get the title of this post, you must be from ’round these parts.