PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Sunday, February 13, 2005

(state) Lines In The Sand

I moved to St. Louis in 1995. I didn't really know what to expect, and while I still have fond memories of my time there, it wasn't exactly the greatest time of my life, and a rather lonely one, in retrospect. Lot o' growin' up, not to mention some funny-ass drama (Car Burnt to Crisp, Women's Prison Experience, etc.) So when I moved to Kansas City a couple years later, I focused most of my apartment-hunting on the Missouri side, out of convenience - my driver's license and car plates were already Missouri, why not keep it easy? And I found out later, if you work in one state and live in another, tax time can be crazy. So! Keep it on the Mighty Mo. And good gravy, I wasn't taking another driving test - for all my complaints about drivers, the Missouri driver's license test is freakin' HARD! Two co-workers in St. Louis flipped through the book, having been drivers for years before moving there, and in most other states, your general driving experience will be enough to pass. YOU WOULD THINK. NOT SO! They both failed the first time! Even with all the studying, I choked on the correct length at which you must tie a (white? red?) flag to something protruding from your vehicle. Good grief! If anything's sticking out more than 6", I'm putting a freakin' balloon bouquet on it and hiring a "Wide Load" car to escort me.

After moving to K.C., I discovered this odd little border war that has never died. A guy at work was talking about how Kansas was "O.K.", but when I said, "Would you live there?" the response was emphatically, "OH no. Never." My husband tells me the feud traces back to the Civil War. I said, "So, what side was Missouri on?" His answer: "Slavery." Ah. Well, then, that's a good reason to keep ourselves divided. (?) But it isn't all about that anymore. It's this strange rooted upbringing, a level of disdain and wariness about that side of town. For the longest time, we'd drive over to Johnson County, to do some shopping, or to go out to eat, and literally five minutes after crossing the state line, James would slump in his seat and with an air of disdain state, "I'm totally lost." I would start pointing out consistent landmarks, like the SUN, and the fact that they, too, use a numbering system with their East-West streets. Just like us! To no avail. "I'm turned around. Completely. I have no idea where we are." I was astonished until I figured out it was his auto-reaction to being in the Land of the Devil, a.k.a., Kansas. I'm just saying, when I lived in Minnesota and Iowa, we engaged in border jibing, always. The poor Dakotas - there are so few people left to even defend their great, frozen, funny-talkin' states. :) But there wasn't this crazy-wonkers-blinders thing going on, it's really quite amusing coming from the outside, to see how galvanized people get over sides of a city that are divided only by a four-lane (sometimes two-lane) street called "State Line".

People, it has taken several YEARS to unstick that learned response in my husband. And only as it relates to finding his way around. He'd still never live there, and that's ok. Shall the leopard change his spots? I'm just relieved he's no longer "immediately lost" once we've hit Kansas soil.

How did I do it? We started with desirable, easy-to-find locations, like Hooters. And Galyan's, a source for Hunting Supplies. By stringing together desirable eating establishments, and appealing shopping, a little trail of duck decoys and chicken wings have proven to be the shoehorn that allows my husband to slide into the neighboring state and not be immediately transported to the State of Flummoxed. And I have realized I'm getting older (and more of a Missouri resident myself) when I'm happy to see more shopping opening on the Missouri side, because I want to keep my tax dollars in my state.

(Speaking of Galyan's. Now they're Dick's Sporting Goods. And did you know if you thought you could go online to look at sporting goods, and you innocently typed in dicks dot com? You get 8,000 pop up windows showing you 16,000 Mr.Happys and very tan naked men in every position trying to entice you, and it's not to buy sporting equipment. Some of those Mr.Happys would even require a red flag tied on them if they were being transported in the trunk of a Missouri car. And did you know if you do this innocent search at work, you will eventually have to turn your computer OFF in a panic because you do not posess the ability to click a mouse fast enough to make those pop-ups go away? Did you know this? Hm? Well, now you have been warned.)
posted by PlazaJen, 8:03 AM