Lots of people in lots of places have ideas about what Los Angelinos are really like. Thanks to Hollywood, the Venice Beach boardwalk, and shows like LA Ink, people from Phoenix to Philadelphia believe that most of us are surgically enhanced bimbos, tattooed freakshows or burnt-out surf bums who know nothing about what goes on outside our sunny little bubble. At least that's what I think the perception is outside my sunny little bubble...
Given the stereotypes that exist, it's no surprise that I feel a sort of duty to defend homegrown Angelinos like myself when I travel to places like the Midwest.
This weekend was a junket of sorts, where I had to properly represent myself as a So Cal girl, a bride-to-be, a future family member, and a future wife to Mr. Wonderful.
At our first stop, St. Louis, I did my best to ingratiate myself to the Greek family and friends who are inheriting me. Mr. W and I aren't high up on the list right now because we're not having a proper, enormous, ethnically appropriate wedding. But I think I was charming enough that the small group attending will still like us when all is said and done. The worst thing anyone said to me while we were there was, "You smile too much." And that came from Mr. W's hilarious 7-year-old niece. So I think I'm in the clear.
The best thing anyone said was not actually to me. We were taking pictures with a group of friends and new acquaintances near the St. Louis arch, when one of the girls asked Mr. W if he could do a backflip across the street. He looked at her quizzically and answered, "No."
Then later she asked me if it made me nervous to date someone with such a dangerous job. Visual effects producer isn't exactly a risky profession... "Aren't you a stuntman?" the girl asked Mr. W. And using my PR skills, I held myself up instead of rolling on the ground, laughing at her mistake. The only stunts Mr. W ever pulls usually involve a fly swatter or high-jump to reach a piece of fruit in his fig tree. (Oh, but he's very very macho. Don't get me wrong.)
When asked if the bar in St. Louis was different from bars in LA, I took the opportunity to explain that LA has many pockets and a wide variety of hangout spots. We are not crazy, $30-for-a-beer, hoity toity animals out here, people. We are just like the rest of you.
During the second leg of our tour, in Tampa, I did my best to prove the worthiness of my engagement to Mr. W's mom and stepdad. I shared pictures of the bridesmaid dresses, my own dress, the reception venue. I commended his proposal. I made jokes about how I'd always let Mr. W be the boss in the relationship. And on our second night, his parents toasted me as a new addition to the family.
It's hard work convincing so many people that you're an ok gal. Thank goodness my Communications degree required some PR studies...