Dear Uptight Seattleite, I just started a firestorm of controversy in an online forum by asking this question: Is it OK to tell people you live in Seattle if you actually live in the 'burbs? And so I put it to you: Are you a Seattleite if you live in, say, Maple Valley or Edmonds? Or only if you live within the actual city limits? What if you're talking to someone from out of town, like Nashville or Los Angeles—is it OK then to say you're "from Seattle"? What about when you're visiting Portland? Are there different rules depending on who you're talking to? Can you define the term "Seattleite" for us? Are there geographic limits associated with this noun? How far outside of Seattle is it not Seattle anymore?Jamie in Uptown
Dear Jamie, How are you today? Do you have a dog? Have you ever tried to knit? Is it raining where you are? What color is your parachute? What are you thinking about for lunch? Have you been to that teriyaki place? Do you think it's going to be nice this weekend, and if so, what do you consider "nice"? Sunny but cold—is that "nice"? And did you drink about 30 cups of coffee today, or are you always so perky and inquisitive? Sorry for teasing you, Jamie! I guess I'm just in a good mood, what with the light coming back and all. Also, I made a connection on democraticsingles.net the other day. While I won't be so crude as to say that some "mission" was "accomplished," well, a bit of intimacy does improve a person's outlook, doesn't it? Anyway, I'd like to address what I think is the question behind all your questions. Namely, why would a Kirklander, Kentian, or Bothellite say they were from Seattle to begin with? Because they see their own town as a wasteland—a sprawling, earth-choking labyrinth of six-lane roads, fast food, nail salons, and craft-supply stores? And they therefore wish to identify instead with the cultural prestige and excellent bookstores of Seattle? I'm just trying to empathize here. And as best as I can make out, there's no problem. We all have our comforting little delusions. Dear Uptight Seattleite, I'm a 24 year-old man who has realized that my friends' S.A.D. symptoms have been giving me a contact depression. But instead of cutting them off, I've decided to balance out the time I spend with them by doing things I enjoy alone. These things turn out to include independent film/music/etc., post-punk culinary arts, compulsive blog scanning, and Victorian novels. This is a wondrous 180 from how I was in college. I'm becoming more self-aware, cosmopolitan, and articulate. But the more culturally aware I become, the more I can't relate to my fellow human beings. Case in point: a dinner party last night, which ended in uncomfortable silence following an extended riff I did on the surprising indie hit of the season. Am I to die friendless and alone, remembered only for the clever references I sent whistling over my friends' heads?Keller Schmeckle
Dear Keller Schmeckle, It can be difficult when your cultural acumen zips ahead with a speed that leaves your companions bobbing mutely in your wake. I myself have had the painful experience of trying to talk to someone who hasn't heard of Noam Chomsky and incorrectly uses the word "ironically." My advice is to bend like the reed and be like the Mountain. KMTT 103.7, that is. You know how they mix in classics like "Layla" and "Don't Stand So Close to Me" with stuff by newer, less familiar artists like Matchbox 20? You, too, have to take your audience along slowly. So if you're talking politics, for example, start off with the kind of catchy Bush-hating ditty that everyone likes to cluck along with. Then bring in the more subtle stuff: "But of course it really comes down to class." Hit the snare at regular intervals with phrases like "of course" and "what people need to understand" so your audience still has some cues. When you've got a good groove going, change up the meter with some choice piece of history. "Of course, Nixon was as liberal as Obama in a lot of ways!" Bam! Now you're driving your stake into new land. I'm pretty sure my new Democratic friend appreciated how I practiced this technique the other night, although she was pretty quiet at the time and hasn't called me back for a few days now. Have a question for the Uptight Seattleite? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.