How country is St. Louis? And when I say country I don’t mean in a good way like these semi-illiterate numbskulls like Nelly and the morons on local hip-hop radio who have made being “country “cool. Well, first I have to define country for a lot of my readers. It has nothing to do with country music or being from a rural area; it has to do with the way a lot of people in STL talk and the provincial nature of a lot of St. Louisan’s. People in STL used to get mad when people called them country; but then when Nelly came out they started wearing it as a badge of honor. Meaning the more ignorant you talked and the less you knew about the world the more real you were.
When I say country I mean an ignorant know-nothing Mf’er from St. Louis who no matter how educated is still a hick. Two recent examples of encounters with such country fools in St. Louis?
The other day I walk into Panera bread to meet someone for a meeting. Now, normally I do not go to Panera because I don’t drink coffee and the food is not filling enough for me, but it is a good place to meet someone for a private meeting.
This Panera is located in the pedestrian area known as the Delmar Loop that is home to such places as the famous Vintage Vinyl, Blueberry Hill of Chuck Berry fame, Subterranean Books, the Tivoli Theater (an arthouse theater) and a variety of ethnic restaurants ranging from Ethiopian to Thai. The Loop is next to Washington University, a prestigious university that has one of the best medical schools in the country, and is surrounded by diverse neighborhoods (to the north African-American and Chinese, to the South rich white globos, to the east a black ghetto and a gentrified area, and to the West an Orthodox Jewish enclave and a white, mostly Jewish, middle-class).
You would think with all of this diversity that a guy working at this Panera location would not be so country or at least would try and hide his staggering level of ignorance. Well, that was not the case. As I walked to the counter alongside a Muslim brother and filmmaker to place my order for a bagel and soda the guy behind the counter said ” Merry Christmas Santa, I see it is coming early” and pointed to my beard. I said “haha man you think you funny or something?” and got my stuff.
Can you imagine that happening in New York? New Jersey? Chicago? DC? Philly? I cannot; but here in St. Louis I was not surprised by this ignorant Mf’er. And FYI, for him or anyone else with jokes about my beard; I aint Santa, but I may come down your chimney, and when I do it is not time to look for toys, but time to get right with God. When this guy looked at my beard he was looking from the point of someone so ill-informed that he had no idea that it is Islamic or that it may be offensive to joke on my beard. Of course he is not alone; I get dumb passengers who get in and say “ZZ Top” and a lot of these are college student or urban yuppies who are supposed to know a little bit about the world. The level of knowledge of Muslims in St. Louis, despite our relatively large population, is almost nil, that is why I am surprised when I meet someone here who knows anything about Islam at all.
But, the ignorance here is not limited to knowledge of Islam. I cannot tell you how many times black St. Louisan’s would walk up to my ex-wife ( who is Puerto Rican and from Brooklyn) and ask her “girl, what you mixed with” or ” you aint full-blooded are you” and she would look at them like they were from some planet of mental midgets. Do not get me wrong, she was not bourgeois at all, she grew up in the Albany Projects in Crown Heights and went to Boys and Girls High School in Bed-Stuy, hardly upscale; but she had never encountered people this ignorant. Even when she would tell people she was Puerto Rican she would get stuff like ” oh, that is kind of like a Mexican or something”.
My current wife is a light-skinned black woman who covers (or in STL Ebonics light-skindeded) largely of black Caribbean origin whose family is from the East Coast and has lived all over, but most recently in Texas. When we went to the office to get health-coverage the lady behind the desk looked at her and me and then put her race down as white. Yesterday, at the doctors office, she told the country ass doctor she was black and the doctor said ‘are you sure? You look like a Texas Hispanic?” WTF?
First of all, that remark by the doctor was highly unprofessional. Second, if she means by Texas Hispanic that my wife looks Mexican this dumb country broad has never seen a Mexican before. Now, you can say my wife looks Boricua, Dominican, Cuban, Brazilian, but never in a million years does she look like any kind of Mexican. This lady may have never seen a Mexican and may not be able to find Texas on a map (not sure if there is a geography test on the medical exam). But again, I ask, outside of Utah, Idaho and the non-annexed South, can you imagine this happening anywhere else and not being surprised?
Any Good News in Da Lou?
Yes, from this morning, Alhamdudilah. I had a young African-American lady in my cab who was going to work in the Western suburbs. We had a nice long conversation about all sorts of things before she asked me if I was a Muslim. I said yes and she told me her boss is a Pakistani Muslim and that he had bought her a very powerful book to read that she couldn’t put down. “What is the book’ I asked and she said “the Quran”. Masha’Allah, the next thing she asked me was where to go to for an intro to Islam class. So, things are not all bad in Da Lou.