Observations From 29 Years of Life in Iowa

So, there’s this article — http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/12/observations-from-20-years-of-iowa-life/249401/

The article was written by a University of Iowa professor. I’ve read one of his books and really enjoyed it. I have different feelings about this article. These feelings prompted this brief response…or rebuttal.

I certainly don’t consider myself to be an expert on anything. I have a fairly simple little life — I go to work, eat my veggies, and occasionally do laundry. However, after reading Professor Bloom’s article, I think I may be somewhat of an expert on Iowa life. Here are my credentials:

– 29 years of Iowa livin’ (please disregard the 5 months spent in Wisconsin — it was just an internship)

– 17 years in a small Iowa town (Bagley — population 250ish); 12 years in larger Iowa cities (Cedar Falls and Des Moines)

– My dad farms — boo-yah! Doesn’t get any more Iowan than that!

– My parents and grandparents have spent their entire lives in Iowa. (Hello, generational Iowan wisdom!)

– I never went to Disney World as a child. Instead, my family vacationed in Iowa. This means I get Iowa tourist points.

– A previous boss told me I sound like I’m from rural Iowa. I didn’t really consider this to be a compliment — until now! I think this means I “talk the talk.” And, I can’t deny the fact that “dinner” is served at noon. It just is — don’t over analyze things.

There. I think I’m quite credentialed. With credentials like these, I probably should have experienced almost everything Professor Bloom references in his article. Or not…

I’ve never hunted. I’ve never wanted to hunt. I did help someone hang a deer from a tree so it could bleed out — but that was in Wisconsin. (And I only did that to maintain my tough girl image. And to cross it off my bucket list.)

I’ve only gone fishing once or twice. I’ve never caught anything.

I’ve missed all the makeshift signs along Iowa highways advertising bull semen. I’m a little disappointed; I’d love to see a good bull semen sign. Heck, I might even decide to purchase bull semen if the advertising was exceptionally compelling.

Professor Bloom referenced a “two-finger driver’s greeting.” I think he’s got it wrong — the true rural Iowan greeting only involves one finger. And, no, Iowa farmers aren’t flipping the bird to their neighbors. The wave is done with the pointer finger. The hand remains on the steering wheel, and the pointer finger flips up for a brief and efficient greeting. Try it. You’ll like it. I know I do. Two fingers would look goofy. That would resemble bunny ears.

Professor Bloom notes Iowa’s exceptionally high rate of alcoholism and suicides. He also mentions the large number of slaughterhouses in Iowa. Individuals from other states might conclude that Iowans run around in a drunken stupor with butcher knives — killing animals and then themselves. I have never witnessed anything close to this, and I worked at a Hy-Vee in a town with a large meat-packing plant.

Apparently, Professor Bloom has noticed all Iowan boys under 16 are referred to as Bud. That memo didn’t reach my rural area — there weren’t any “Buds” in my elementary school, middle school, or high school. I’m a little jealous that young Iowan girls don’t have an automatic nickname. I would have gladly spent the first 16 years of my life answering to Champ or Sport.

Iowans’ interior design skills are also mentioned in the article. Iowans design their living spaces with a mud room to avoid tracking pig shit into the house. If I didn’t live in Iowa, I’d think pig shit was everywhere — in every yard, every street, and every sidewalk. But it isn’t. I don’t think I’ve ever tracked pig shit into my house. Ever. I was raised near hog farms, but the shit somehow stayed near the pigs and didn’t waft into my yard. Perhaps the pig shit stayed away because my family didn’t have a mud room…

Finally, I’d like to point out the following:

– Rural Iowans do have reasons to drive on highways. Reason #1 — rural Iowans like to eat, and grocery stores tend to be located on highways. Reason #2 — rural Iowans have jobs located near highways. Reason #3 — rural Iowans eventually have to put fuel in their VE-hicles (not ve-HICK-uls — that’s just awkward!), and gas stations tend to be located on highways.

– I’ve never eaten a Waldorf cake. I’ve never even seen a Waldorf cake — and I’ve attended many church potlucks with many varieties of Jell-O salads and casseroles. (I have seen many raisin cream pies — a dessert that is likely more Iowan than a Waldorf cake.)

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3 Responses to Observations From 29 Years of Life in Iowa

  1. Heather Beaudet says:

    i am going to have to read this article now! we did have a bud in high school, he just wasnt under 16!

  2. Ann says:

    It was “just” an internship??? Ahhhhh: I thought it was a just internship! Glad to at least expand your Iowaian perspective of life. Of course, I now stereotype folks from Iowa. I think they are all like you.

    • bloglette says:

      Oh, Ann. It was a great internship! I’ll always have warm fuzzies for Wisconsin. Hard to believe it was nine years ago. And I still wear the cashmere scarf you gave me. Guess cashmere ages well:)

      I’m sure many Iowans would cringe if they realized you were using me as a stereotype. However, I think I’m a model Iowan.

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