Tuesday, October 5, 2010

LA PR in STL and FL

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...

11 comments:

LesleyG said...

Thank goodness Communications degrees help out in these situations! I feel like I haven't used mine in, well, ever!

Also, stuntman? That is hilarious, just on it's own.

Jeff said...

The question I have is why was it your job to prove your "engagement worthiness" to his mom and stepdad in the first place? Isn't it his job to address any concerns that they have? But then I guess as a rule stuntmen aren't very talkative. Here's the thing: you call their son Mr. Wonderful. What else do they need to know? Also, do you think I used enough question marks in this comment?

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

I'm with Jeff. Why on earth would you need to prove anything. Doesn't Mr. W's family trust him enough to know he's making a fabulous decision. It's not like he's 18 bringing home his new bride. He's waited for the right one - and man, did his patience pay off!

You've Got to Be Kidding Me said...

The funny thing is, if you leave the country, everyone outside of the U.S. lumps us all together as sees us as identical.

I sometimes think our regionalism is a mass delusion. Don't get me wrong, I love being a Detroiter and I think we have a particular sense of humor and a fierce survival instinct ... but then, perhaps all Americans feel that way?

Maybe what we perceive as what is "L.A." about us or "Detroit" about us is actually what is "American" about us ... or hey, perhaps even "Human" about us.

Nah.

You people in L.A. are freaks. I'm going to go downstairs and get a coney and a diet pop.

laura said...

What's not love? Of course they adore you!! Oh...and the LA thing...I know what you mean...whenever I tell people I live in Orange County..they think it's like that show the OC...I mean, it's not like everyone here has boob jobs and hair extensions. Oh wait....

Sizzle said...

Ha, right. Like you need to use your degree! You're naturally charming and seeing you and Mr. W together seals the deal. Anyone with half a brain can see the love there. ;-)

geekhiker said...

I don't think it's just L.A. Look at what we've done to twenty-somethings from New Jersey and housewives everywhere from Orange County to Washington D.C....

Mel Heth said...

Lesley - I think in addition to the degree, I've learned the art of tact over the years. That's probably worth more than my entire college education!

Jeff - Are you one of those people who answers a question with another question? In Mr. W's defense, he is quiet - so I feel the need to pipe up and make sure everyone is VERY CLEAR about me. Not that he would ever paint a picture of me that was anything less than perfect... ;)

Nilsa - It's my own hang-up! I just like to feel liked. But I guess I had already won them over a year and a half ago.

Mandy - That's a really good point. You're right about the far-reaching perception of Americans. But one of the Midwesterners did admit that they were skeptical of me - afraid I'd be a "typical California girl" - before they met me in person.

Laura - You're very sweet. But the list of not-to-loves is probably a lot longer than you're realizing! ;P

Sizzle - Oh stop, I'm blushing. You know how it goes - even when you think people like you, it's always nice to really shore up the perception and make sure it's stable.

Geekhiker - You are so right. Maybe we need to just abolish reality TV!!

blakspring said...

so, like, oh my god, you're not a valley girl? gag me with a spoon...

Scribe said...

We have a snobbery of sorts with Toronto. The other cities hate Toronto and detest when they're lumped together. I guess the Toronto pockets feel the same way. I was once asked if us Canadians had electricity and gas, and how it might melt our igloo. I was in Ohio.

Oh, and anyone who calls their fiance "Mr. Wonderful" is a welcome member in any family!

Jeff said...

What makes you think I answer a question with another question? (See what I did there?)