Monday, May 2, 2016

From Arkansas To Illinois

As I am working on my first year and third season living in Yankee State (Illinois) and nine months dating a Yankee (haha) I've learned a lot about the culture, people and places here, some things valuable, others abhorrent and those that have seemed to make me call this place home. Here are a few of the things I've learned:

  • The friendliness of strangers differs. In the South if you nod, wave or attempt to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger you are greeted back with the same polite attempts. Here it varies, you have friendly people and you have people that haven't a clue what general public manners are. In other words in Arkansas, there is no such thing as strangers, but here, there are.

  • Their sweet tea isn't even sweet and their moonshine taste like its store bought.

  • Women have more rights and respect here in general. In the South women still have a lot of glass ceilings to break through whereas here women are viewed as capable counterparts.

  • There are smalltown farming communities here that give you that smalltown USA feel of the South. Everybody knows everybody and the whole town gathers for beer and pool at the bars.

  • Despite it being in the northern region of the US, there is still much land left here to be developed, there are still many “country” people here, which are my kind of people. Don't get me wrong, you find your city slickers too but in the smalltowns you find your majority of country people that booze cruise, ride ATVs and throw backwoods bonfires near cow ponds.

  • They haven't a clue what good down home cooking is, sure I've had a few people's cooking that I wouldn't beg to differ with but I've never tasted anything that I don't think I could make better. (HAHA)

  • Apparently Budweiser and Busch is a big deal as much as Budweiser is in the South.

  • The countryside is absolutely beautiful here, I've found my favorite scenery to be around the Raymond area, southeast of I-55.

  • Men are more disorderly and assertive here. The difference of flirting is one of annoyance, the male gender does not seem to know the meaning of the word “no”.

  • Every town no matter if its way out yonder with barely 200 people, has a town square with the oddest rotational flow of traffic you have ever seen.

  • There tends to be a more snoody, arrogant population here.

  • Even though they haven't any heritage in being in the Confederacy, the country folk and rednecks here still love the Confederate flag because it stands for rebellion in the name of freedom.

  • Fowl hunting sucks here but the deer hunting makes up for it. I've never seen so many deer in my life since last winter I spent here, in the stand and out...big ones too... corn-fed according to the locals...

  • There are a lot of and I mean a lot of butchers and meat lockers here, even though gas tends to be about 30 cents higher than down South, groceries and other marketable items tend to be cheaper.

  • I'm convinced that Harley Davidson is the state's national icon...Sure you see many people on bikes down south but not like you do up here, its insane, and I've never had more fun and excitement than I have on the back of my mate's Harley.

  • There is a major lacking in general hospitality unless you are already family or a friend... Its tragic really.

  • They actually have Spring and Fall here....Seriously, they have amazing weather, the winters get harsh and the summers get hot too don't get me wrong but they do have two season of perfect weather here! I love it!

  • Everyone living outside of Chicago, hates Chicago and thinks it should be listed as as separate state because it entirely does not reflect the rest of Illinoisan culture.

  • Illinois NCAA football team sucks and they know it and openly admit to it... As far as baseball goes, if you are north of Springfield you must choose between the Cubs or the Sox; however, central and southern Illinois is an exception, everyone below that line loves the Cardinals, which is perfect, as many southerners are die-hard Cardinals fans, including myself.

  • Springfield is practically one gigantic Lincoln museum... seriously its insane...but educational...

  • They don't say y'all here they say “you guys” and they are respectful of women's genders and generally call things like they seem em....

  • The corn crops here are every bit of 10 to 12 feet tall, making our puny 6 foot southern corn look ridiculous... But our beans and cotton grow about three foot taller than any other crop they grow here.

  • Pronouncing the “S” in Illinois is about the worst crime I commit on a daily basis, being an out-of-stater.

  • No one abides by the “open-container” law, seriously.... no one...

  • There are these godly-inspired creations that may be the exception to my “I can do better” motto, called horseshoes.... They are heaven sent and can only be found in central Illinois. They consist of Texas toast on the bottom, some sort of meet, my favorite is pulled pork, fries or tater tots and some kind of crack cocaine infused cheese sauce ( just kidding but its really good and addicting) and then usually I top mine off with chili. Its amazing, it will make you happier than a pig in the mud.

  • Despite their football team being a total flop, Illinoisans bleed orange and blue and support the Fighting Illini like we southerners do our SEC football....

  • Road construction is everywhere, all the dang time... of course that's probably why their roads don't rattle your wheels off like they do in the South. It gets old being backed up in traffic though.

  • On the subject of roads, you must use the Interstate to travel to areas of small towns, there's an exit to learn for every town, but once you get off the interstate its all old country roads from there.... Difference being, I've seen a total of like three rock roads here (we call em gravel roads down south), the rest of these roads they pave with a process they just call “slapping down some rock and oil”. And apparently our “turn roads” down south are called “field lanes” here... WTF?

  • Illinois has its flat spots but it never takes more than five minutes to make down into some rustic bottoms or hills and hollers. Its always windy here, even though I live 3 hours south of the Windy City Chicago....there is one of those giant white wind turbines just northeast of my town...Its always turning.

  • There are amazing Farmer's Markets here, seriously, unless you've been to the ones in Louisiana, these here are amazing.

  • Route 66 is a big deal, while I've traveled a whole summer around and on Old Route 66 and I've never seen a fan base like I have here....

So yea just a few crazy things here in Yankee State. Send me your feedback, let me know if there's anything I missed for my Illinoisan readers... Love y'all and thanks for reading Straight Southern.

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