Passing as troll?

Troll being someone who lives below the bridge. After several years of working across the “street” from an empty “bullpen”, Cube Nayber and I have neighbors. We are friendly with them but they work on a completely different product than we do and so our paths never cross when it comes to work issues. They are a little more talkative than us in general, so they liven the place up a bit and we like that.

Today. One of the project managers from the other product was in that bullpen and the discussion was (or started out to be) college. And guess what. One of the colleges he attended was none other than the one in the small Yooperland city that I grew up in. Man, did my radar go into full-tilt boogie mode. This person is actually very cool but, since we don’t work together, he has no idea who the heck I am and where I come from. The Yooper stereotypes ensued. Drinking (where do people not drink?) and bears walking through town (could happen but ***VERY*** rare) and snow that begins falling in November and doesn’t leave until May (sometimes but usually much more complicated than that!).

I didn’t jump into that conversation. I wanted to tell them all that not everybody and everything up there was like what he was describing. Yes, there are snowbillies up there. There are snowbillies (or hillbillies) everywhere. And I think all of us are snowbillies sometimes. I know that I am! Few families that I knew growing up in the Yooperland were snowbillies. They were mostly very hard working folks who valued education and did whatever they could to better their lives and make life better for their children. We all do that, don’t we? I thought about the sisters-in-law known as The Commander and Radical Betty. They met at MSU back in the Jurassic Age and, since The Commander married Radical Betty’s brother, they ended up being lifelong friends. Those two women were instrumental in forming the lake state elders’ program. Yoopers? Yes. Snowbillies? Not so much. Well. except sometimes 😉

I look old and baggy to myself. I’m not sure what I look like to others. Some people at work actually think I am, er, fashionable. I am not. I struggle mightily to obtain enough *comfortable* biz-caz type clothing that I don’t look like I’m wearing the same outfit every day but I am not a clothes horse. Not any more. I don’t know what I sound like. I always hated the southeast Michigan accent that I encountered at Interlochen and other places. I’m not sure what my accent is these days. Who would know whether or not I’m a Yooper. But that conversation set me on edge somehow. Did those people know that a Yooper was sitting right there across the “street” from them? How would they know…

Disclaimer: I have used the word “passing” here. I know that there is a huge history of African-American folks passing as “white” and I am not trying in any way to make my ridiculous little experience equivalent to that kind of experience. Just that we all have some kind of history and mine felt a teensy bit violated today.

4 Responses to “Passing as troll?”

  1. Margaret Says:

    I think you wear what you like and what’s comfortable which makes you have style. Other people perceive that as confidence in yourself and your appearance. Or you are actually TRES CHIC and don’t know it. I am from a smaller town that Seattleites love to look down on; they think there are a bunch of red neck farmers down here. It sets my teeth on edge too. I think you have a very nice voice and accent, unlike me who sounds like a man.

  2. pooh Says:

    I thought the title referred to the picture of Froggy and Green Guy!

  3. kayak woman Says:

    Froggy and Green Guy make pretty good stereotypical yoopers, don’tcha think?

  4. Sam Says:

    Photo is of alternate-universe cube-neighbors?