Wednesday, October 15, 2008

rochester on rochester handshakes ...

yesterday i met another rochestarian right here in the streets of duluth. i would have been less surprised to find out i'd been named poet laureate of my honda. despite the fact that both minnesota cities are among the top five population-wise, not many of my people cross north of the anoka border.

this can probably be summed up in the warning i received days before i moved here by a man from rochester who looked like a cross between a t-rex and barry manilow:

did you know that duluth's annual snowfall is higher than juneau, alaska?

this may be true; this may be false. but that someone believes it to be true is enough. if he believes that to be true, other people believe that to be true. it was probably in the rochester post bulletin or decried from a pulpit.

rochester people don't dream of moving to duluth. those fairy tales are saved for the likes of st. louis park. if i lived in st. louis park, i'd have a hard time hawking a luggie without getting it in the bangs of a former lourdes high school tennis star. the streets of st. louis park are paved with purple and gold fever. [okay, i have two friends in st. louis park.]

i have one rochester friend here in duluth: the rockstar amy abts.
i know of a handful of rochesterians here in duluth:

1. a former lifeguard from soldiers' field pool whose tie dyed shirts and crystal necklaces made throngs of underclassmen oozy goozy with grateful dead love.

2. the guy who had the locker next to mine for three years in high school who four out of the five times i've seen him has failed to register an appropriate amount of celebratory inflection in his voice upon contact [or in some cases, acknowledge my cheerful wave -- the sort of movement that should have a pompom attached].

3. my cousin, a freshman at the university of minnesota duluth, whom i've not seen because i don't eat at the umd cafeteria and because he's never been to my couch.

4. a family friend a few years younger than me who unfriended me on facebook after i ran into her at pizza luce while i was wearing a battlestar galactica costume.

5. a guy who was a senior when i was a freshman. i believe he was on the track team. he seems to be a doctor, so i'd assume he spends his freetime in vail wearing turtlenecks, chortling and sipping toddies.

so this rochester-on-rochester handshake was extraordinary. i am a huge fan of social context. for instance, one of my favorite things about chuck is that i can say "sweet pickles is great!" and he knows what that means. the other day we had a pretty long conversation about necklaces made of multicolored swirled femo clay beads hanging from a leather shoelace.

so rochester and i played "do you know?" "no! no! but do you know ..." for awhile, realizing that we didn't know any of the same people. but i bet she was stoked to tell me that she went to "JM" knowing that i'd know something duluth people don't know: that JM means john marshall high school. and when i told her my last name, it meant something because in the early 1990s, "pista" was a synonymous with "fine, fine basketball player" although that pista was not related. in duluth, "pista" means little more than that i am not necessarily finnish or swedish.

then things cranked up a bit: the rochestfarian mentioned leigh geramanes, the newscaster from kttc -- rochester's NBC affiliate -- whose bangs we all grew up with. i erupted in giggles and threw in the names dan o'hara, pat lund and mike hamernik that geeky lank of meteorologist.

oh i could hardly breathe.

when we finally parted ways, i looked over my shoulder and said: the redwood room.
she laughed and said, simply: ed's attic.
you would have thought it was a party, from all the whooping. i may have won the dan o'hara round, but she took the restaurants catagory with aplomb, by mentioning that skeez hole.

this was all great fun and made me miss having rochester people around. this doesn't mean i want to move back. this just means that every once in awhile, i want to have a conversation with someone who cruised broadway or went skinny dipping at foster arend or knows what bilotti's is.

i like to think of rochester as an exboyfriend i remember fondly, but would never date again.

5 comments:

Miss Kate said...

I sort of feel the same way about St. Francis. Except now that I live less than 10 miles from it, wouldn't that be like dating your ex's best friend? Huh.

Beret said...

I feel the same way about Duluth. Whenever I see a Minnesota license plate out here I always wonder if it's someone I know.

Leigh Germanes? What an awesome name. But I'm sure she's no Barbara Ryelts or Michelle Lee.

CDP said...

I feel the very same way about Philadelphia. Last time I met someone from home, we had a very similar conversation. I fell apart laughing when he asked "hey---have you ever heard of a dive bar called Peck Miller's?" He'd done most of his underage drinking there, and I told him that he had certainly seen my dad and all of my uncles, because you couldn't go into Peck's on a Friday or Saturday in the 1970s or 1980s without running into my dad and at least one of his brothers.

Anonymous said...

you actually know 3 LHSers who live in SLP (me, tennis star and donger)... and I know at least 2 other Rochester folk who live here. Wow. I hadn't thought about it before. :) So, who was it you met? - Fannie

Amy said...

i think the longer you stay away from rochester the more lax you are to admit you are from there - por ejemplo, my boss and another co-worker i know you know. i just don't think of them as from rochester like us.
oh, and i think you might mean crotchfester, even though my mom requested me to stop calling it that.