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What I am is what I am you what you are or what

by anna at 07:04 PM on March 18, 2004

This is the story of how I came to lose all my ingrained cultural stereotypes. I learned that not all southerners are inbred rubes. Nor are they all well-mannered any more than all Californians are cool. Not all New England gals are so prim and proper. Not all Arabs are wild-eyed terrorists. And beauty pageant contestants are approachable.

Tom Bomb got married in 1983. He was the first to take the plunge. His wedding took place in this majestic cathedral near what is now known as Ground Zero. We were all tapped as groomsmen. But none of us were too keen on driving our rides into the forbidding, crime-ridden city. So we pitched in and bought a $250 clunker. NYC here we come!

I drove my company car to a north Jersey hotel where we'd booked an entire floor. We all piled into the old Ford and stormed the city. First stop: Chinatown for the rehearsal dinner. Tom said you could get the most authentic meat chow mein there. On the way in Chris struck a bargain with some bums. For $10 they agreed to keep an eye on our car. The Peking dog was indeed delicious. I stuck a chicken wing in the pocket of Chris's suit jacket. When we came out, numbed by Mai Tais, the car had been stripped clean. Said bums were nowhere to be seen.

That Maloney Boy managed to rig it up so we could drive it (without a power steering pump) to the ritzy Waldorf-Astoria. Before long we were chatting up these Miss Canada contestants. Drink flowed freely. Tom laid out lines on their compact mirrors. We lost a few members of our party as they spent the night with Miss Quebec and Miss Nova Scotia. Needless to say they were no-shows for the wedding shindig. Little did we know that they charge $15 a drink at this joint. Fortunately we had Secret Squirrel along. He peeled off a few $100 bills and we were on our merry way.

The nuptials went off without a hitch. Though there was this odd smell lingering, that was later identified as a rotting chicken wing. Afterwards I had to head up to Hartford for an 8 week training stint. Trainees from each major city were housed coed dorm-style. Ages ranged from 22 to 26. You can just imagine what went on there.

There was this hippy chick from the Bay Area. While hardly pinup material everything about her cooed Free Love. Lines outside her room weren't uncommon. In class she'd doze off as teachers droned on about the intricacies of claims adjusting.

She was the only one who fit her regional stereotype. Southern guys were sharp as tacks and ariculate, with just a trace of drawl. They were also impolite, making lewd cracks about diseases you'd catch from the hippy chick. A lady representing New York was anything but cynical. She wore her heart on her sleeve.

In part because he got these pungent "care packets" from home, I gravitated toward this awkward geek from LA. Aside from him I hated all the guys. They were those testosterone-oozing, towel-snapping types who can iron a razor-sharp crease on their pants. They put me down when I couldn't get the hang of it.

After two long weeks we got our paychecks. We were informed of a bank that would cash them. As I cashed mine, the teller goes, "So, you're one of the claims adjustor trainees?" I moved out of the hated dorm the very next day. She'd be waiting in her convertible when classes ended. Shades of An Officer and a Gentlemen, as it were.

Now the company didn't take kindly to this alternate housing arrangement. They wanted we would-be adjustors to bond in the dorm, talking about insurance claims into the wee hours. But they weren't my bosses, so screw 'em. I stayed with the teller in her duplex. On weekends, she, the LA Geek and I would roll the top down and cruise to Rhode Island beaches or else to Boston. LAG hooked up with another wild New England gal. A good time was had by all.

The teller was of Italian descent. Yet she was a terrible cook. Heating up Ragu presented a challenge. I later learned that she made a habit of plucking a trainee from each crop. Dude, I felt so used.

comments (9)

That sounds like used in a good way.
When you're in a new part of the country for a finite period of time you might as well make the most of it and the local "scenery".

Particularly at that age... Ah the memories

by chuck woolery at March 18, 2004 10:28 PM

Well, that's a positive way to look at it. Also I can't express how much I hated the dorm deal. I'd only lived in that kind of setting for one semester my entire life. It's like riding the bus, I just don't like all that togetherness.

by anna at March 19, 2004 7:48 AM

good story.

while i also don't prefer the close "bonding" quarters of a dorm setting, i do kind of like the idea of being sequestered with other young folk, on somebody else's nickel. the potential for hedonism, as you no doubt saw, is off the charts.

by lajo at March 19, 2004 12:15 PM

Lots of hedonism, what with the care packets and all. But also a lot of high school microsm action with cliques and everything.

by anna at March 19, 2004 7:06 PM

Spent eleven years in a Catholic high school (yes, with short plaid little skirt and all) and let me tell you, it was a lot more fun than people make it out to be. ESPECIALLY during three-day retreats where all the girls squeeze into the dorms. *grins*

by yen at March 20, 2004 2:20 AM

11 years in high school? Hmmm. All I know about Catholic schools is the girls who came from the grade 1-8 school and joined us in high school were precocious women among girls.

by anna at March 20, 2004 10:30 AM

(grins) Oops! No, not eleven years in high school. Eleven years, eleven levels (didn't have eighth grade).

Anna, I hate to tell you this, but you were watching a perfectly choreographed dance. Women? We kissed behind teachers' backs, wore nothing under our skirts, and hid lust behind subservient eyes... but then again, who's to say a woman can't be a little dirty now and then?

by yen at March 20, 2004 10:55 AM

Yen I don't know how long you've been lurking but I once told a mildly amusing tale of a girlfriend who mentioned that she too had nothing on beneath her skirt. I was like, "What, you didn't do laundry this week?" :-(

by anna at March 20, 2004 11:33 AM

God I feel dirty about now.

by Ezy at March 23, 2004 10:57 AM

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