Tell me if you've heard this one before: Why wasn't Jesus Christ born in southern Virginia? Because they couldn't find three wise men or a virgin. Haven't heard that one? How about this: Where was the toothbrush invented? Southwest Virginia. If it had been invented in Northern Virginia it would have been called a teethbrush.
Had enough? Find this mildly offensive? Resent the subtle bigotry and air of condescension? It kinda makes you want to write a letter to the editor of The Roanoke Times and give him the what-for, doesn't it? Who does that hypocritically pious holier-than-thou columnist think he is? What, he thinks he writes for the Style section of The Washington Post?
Let me digress for just a moment. It's fair to assume that very few of you reading this (residing in Southwest Virginia and therefore being members of America's great unwashed and ill-educated) know that The Washington Post has a Style section. Look into it and you'd find that the paper actually has a whole staff of people who produce the aforementioned.
On any given day, you'll find articles in Style devoted to sightings of trend-setting Democratic politicians like Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama, to the powerful and hip turning out at a Washington area society gala, to who's dating who and who's marrying who (or is it whom?) and who's dumping who and who was rumored to having been seen with whom, about haiku and jujitsu and kudzu and whether you too should parlez vous. You can read all about risotto, arugula and adobo and whether piquante is trendier than caliente. And don't get them started on the subject of merlot.
The Washington Post dedicates a whole section to such stuff.
Well, on Wednesday a week ago the staff got together and decided to devote a piece to southern Virginia. Actually it painted with a broad brush; it was about all of Virginia outside of hip and happenin' Northern Virginia, or NoVa as they seem to prefer to think of themselves. But the target was unmistakable. It was us. RoVa. The Rest of Virginia.
It wasn't what you might think the Style section of The Washington Post would be focused on, though. It wasn't about Southern cuisine or about the lifestyles of the area's rich and politically powerful. It had nothing to do with music or about our rich cultural heritage or about the historical significance of this proud region. It wasn't even one of those tiresome columns devoted to our majestic mountaintops with flower-festooned trails meandering through a veritable Garden of Eden.
No, the Style section staff of The Washington Post decided, for its own reasons, to belittle us. To poke fun at who we are, or, worse, at who they think we are. We were the butt of crude and unflattering jokes. I guess they were intended to be jokes. You decide. From "NoVa and RoVa: Welcome To A State of Disagreement":
• In NoVa, a lab is the family dog. In RoVa, a lab is the family meth business.
• In NoVa, a "fur piece" is something a woman wears on a special occasion. In RoVa, a "fur piece" is a unit of distance.
• In NoVa, they listen to NPR. In RoVa, they listen to the NRA.
And my personal favorite:
• In RoVa, they like freshly killed venison. In NoVa, they like Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Tennyson? Ain't that that feller what cooks up the white lightnin' over in Stinkin' Crick? Or was he that snot-nosed pit crew chief for Dale Jarrett? I can't recollect but no, we don't be knowin' no Tennyson down these ways, dadgummit.
I know. About now you're asking yourself: What on Earth does this have to do with style? Well, some things never change. A hundred years ago minstrels would paint their faces black, dress up in antebellum garb and sing "Mammy" to amuse the cultured classes, in hopes of getting six bits thrown at them for the evening meal. This is no different. The Stylists at The Post just did the dressing and singing for us. You might think of it as "Hee Haw" redux.
In response, I relay this quote, from Alfred, Lord Tennyson: "No man ever got very high by pulling other people down."