Rumor has it that the entire population of the Pacific Northwest straight down to Southern California is full of shit. What do I mean by this? Well, it’s my understanding that every resident is incredibly warm and welcoming and helpful but in actuality, they secretly hate you and want you dead. By their own hands.
I vacationed in Seattle recently and found the people to be so kind, that after learning of this theory, I couldn’t wait for the plane to depart back to Newark. Newark, naturally, home of lax gun control and drug-related violence abound. Now, of course, you see where I’m coming from.
Several disgruntled East Coast transplants explained this phenomenon to me during the trip. One bartender, a man originally from Queens now slinging drinks at a popular pub in the Pike Place Market spoke frankly about the region once he learned we were visiting from Manhattan.
“All the people here are fuckin’ sketch,” he declared as he wiped down the bar before us. “Sure, they’re nice to your face, but you can’t trust any of these fuckers.” I’m so glad he spoke in his native Queens tongue so we New Yorkers could fully understand his sentiment.
In contrast, I have a handful of former New York/Northeast friends who, as I realized late in the game, were not only untrustworthy but quite easy breezy with betrayal and overall injustice. Alas, I’d been schooled on the ways of the Seattlite (Seattlean?).
So, what is the protocol when you’ve spotted an inauthentic citizen of this region? I selected the “Play Along” strategy.
In our travels one night my fella and I found ourselves gawking at something referred to as the “Gum Wall”. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a tourist spot; an alleyway containing a brick wall thoroughly covered in chewing gum. Some is adhered artfully, others just affixed with a thumb. The entire area has a minty-saliva scent which is not disgusting or nauseating at all, promise.
As we deliberated our next move, two women approached us asking if we’d take their photo in front of the gum. Given the request, we assumed they were tourists. Instead, they were both natives who worked together. One handed me her phone with the photo app at the ready. The case was a shiny black rhinestone number, which I outright told her I planned to steal. She asked what my case looked like and despite its’ inferiority, she agreed to a trade. I was immediately onto her scam.
“We’re on a two-person pub crawl tonight!” rhinestone phone girl exclaimed. Without even a criminal background check on us, her friend continued, “If you come with us, we’d be a four-person pub crawl!” What abhorrent behavior! Inviting us tourists along for drinks and fun!? To understand this repugnant culture, we tagged along.
They showed us around their city all night as we took turns buying rounds and exchanging stories about our lives. As the evening came to a close, Rhinestone decided she wanted us dead so badly that she stole for me a fistful of tulips. I couldn’t believe the nerve she had, that faux sweetness, that I shoved it right into my purse only to safely dispose of her kind drunken gesture the following day on a ferry to Victoria, British Columbia.
I thought we were safe, but the inane friendliness continued! As we set sail to Canada, I began feeling green with motion sickness. A woman seated in the next aisle noticed it my pallor from afar and had the nerve to sympathetically approach me to ask, “Are you feeling OK?” I spoke slowly for fear of barfing on the concerned citizen, who I understood secretly wanted to shove me overboard. She then offered me some ginger candies to settle my stomach and some suggestions for keeping my lunch down.
She explained a small dose of Xanax relieves her seasickness immensely and disappeared to the bathroom only to return with a pill wrapped in a tissue, “this will help you for the trip back.” Xanax or strychnine? I was really starting to see what all these naysayers meant; this place was crawling with graciously friendly people! How awful!
Days later, the ride back was even worse! The seas were calm and the skies were clear and the Seasickness Doctor approached yet again! “Please, take my binoculars so you can have a look at the Seattle skyline.” We obliged and reluctantly enjoyed the marvelous view. We exchanged contact information as we docked and said our good riddance. Just when I thought we were safely tucked away from this Seattlean’s overzealous niceness, she said, “Next time you’re in town, my husband and I will take you guys out sailing!” which was obviously another shot at the opportunity to drowned us.
As we landed in Newark holding our belongings close at the hip and weary of getting stabbed in a random yet popular act of violence, I wondered how anyone could live amongst residence who acted so cordial and caring. I can only hope that bartender from Queens survives his harshly thoughtful environment.
Seattle’s Motto? Watch Out! We’re nice!