Thursday, March 31, 2011

And, where are you from?

So, I have some friends who have a business in the area renting and selling houses. When they are on holiday I help them out. Today I took a client around to see some houses that she might want to buy. The introduction went like this...

I'm sitting in a little bar in Badalucco (pop. 1200) and she walks in. I can tell from her shoes that she's not Italian. We look at each other and both timidly say "Hi?" in English. Introduction made.

She orders a coffee and sits down by me. I say, "hello, welcome. I'm Lynn."

"Hello. I'm Tanya. So you are American. Where are you from in the States."

Damn if my lovely accent doesn't give me away every time!

Pause in the story here for a moment...

This question of "where are you from in the States?" comes up time and time again. Through the years I've had different answers. Where am I from is a darn good question. I feel that I'm from Wisconsin even though I haven't lived there for over 20 years. Actually, more specifically, I'm from a small town in Wisconsin called Elkhorn (pop. 6000). I used to say all of that, which would inevitably induce a blank stare from the questioner, so I would then launch into the explanation of Elkhorn's location in relation to Chicago...and then, depending on who I'm speaking with, the relation of Chicago to the coasts. I quickly found that this was too much information and that people didn't really care about this because they really wanted to hear "California" or "New York" or maybe "Miami" -- something they could recognize...some place where they have a cousin living. Having learned this, I began ditching the preamble about my hometown and went straight for "I'm from Chicago." But then, well, this is actually a lie. Apart from a 3 month period when I was 20, I've never actually lived in Chicago and I'm certainly not FROM Chicago (as anyone would know immediately if they've ever met me AND a real Chicagoan). So then I decided to change my answer to "Denver". If I'm talking to a skier or anyone who has a tv (thank you "Dynasty"), they are satisfied at the recognition and I'm not exactly lying since I lived there for 12 years. Back to the story...

So, Tanya says, "where in the States are you from?"

"Denver. Denver, Colorado."

Blank stare. Then her response....

"Oh. I lived in Wisconsin for a while. Kenosha, Wisconsin."

So it goes.


  1. So, so, so funny!

    ...and, then there was the time my daughter and I were in the airport in Narita, Japan, waiting for a connecting flight to Singapore. We were chatting with each other. The woman next to me asked, "You're American? Where are you from?" I told her Cincinnati. She said, "I'm from that area. I'm from Wyoming, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati."

    Punchline: I said Cincinnati because no one had heard of Wyoming, Ohio, outside of Wyoming, Ohio. I was born and raised in Wyoming, Ohio.

    Such a small world.


  2. You have the best stories, dear Lynn.
    For myself, mu little joke is to say " I'm from the south" pause : blank stare; then, "South London...."

  3. Christine6:02 PM

    I know this dilema very well. I have lived in NYC for more time than anywhere else, so I'm lucky I have a pre-fabricated answer. But I feel guilty because I am not actually "FROM" NYC, I was born in Long Branch, NJ. And yes, of course after I explain to my Italian students that I am from NYC I discover I have a student who has a cousin who lives in Long Branch, NJ!! He is bringing her to class next week!!!