fredclaymeyer

Visit the Midwest! It’s Boring!

In Archives, Uncategorized on January 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I’m from Colorado, but I’ve lived on the East Coast for most of the past seven years, with only short stays at home. Yesterday, I made a business call to someone in my hometown, and found his friendliness and leisureliness so unusual that I struggled to adapt. I hope I’m not starting to drift from my upbringing, because I appreciate that style immensely.

There is a great deal of sanity in the style of the American Midwest, and it’s often completely lost on the ambitious, coast-hopping people who need it most. It’s the sanity of space, and of boredom. There’s a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest that illustrates this perfectly, in the helpless fidgeting of a Madison Avenue advertising executive (Cary Grant) in the unfamiliar desolation of rural Illinois. Learning comfort in that kind of space is its own kind of sophistication, and one that’s badly needed in this part of the world.

I had a girlfriend from the suburbs of New York City who once called the area between the coasts “the middle of our country,” in a tone one might use to refer to an exceptionally stupid child. That anyone would feel that way about any part of the country (or, indeed, the world) is a tragedy; and it’s a painfully ironic contrast to the tolerance and urbanity a big-city upbringing is supposed to confer. I hate to think of this kind of provincialism, and I hate to think of a life lived without any conception of the value of boredom. If you’re intrigued, the plains of eastern Colorado are quite barren this time of year, and all the hotels have vacancies.

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