If you, like Whiskey Mattimoe and me, come from the nation's heartland, you may be Midwest humble.
If you’re from the North, South, East or West, or from another country altogether, you may still know what I’m talking about.
Obvious But Essential Disclaimer: Everyone from the heartland is not humble; nor is humility peculiar to Midwesterners. But the vast majority of my peers and I grew up believing we’re just regular folk who need to work hard, get along, and try not to attract too much attention to ourselves.
What makes “Midwest humble” distinct from qualities instilled elsewhere in the U.S.? I gave this a lot of thought during my two years in Dallas, Texas, one of America’s Great Cities and about as cosmically removed from Midwest humble as it’s possible to be. Although I met and worked with hundreds of people in Dallas, the ones who instantly put me at ease were fellow transplants from the part of the world where I grew up. Yup. I got nothin’ against native Texans, Oklahomans, Arkansans or Louisianans; in fact I love to listen to them. But I was irresistibly drawn to folks from Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. We embraced each other, not only because we talked alike and were outnumbered. We were also outshone. A few reasons why:
1) Some Midwest humble folks of the female persuasion, including me, occasionally go out in public sans make-up and carefully coiffed hair. We may even wear a hat on a cold night, which is guaranteed to give you hat-head when you remove it. Horror of horrors.
2) Our vocabulary lacks a vital word: “y’all.” I am totally serious on this point. “Y’all” means so much more than Midwesterners can immediately grasp. It is an economical yet precise and emphatic way of expressing inclusion, as in “All y’all need to move y’all’s cars.” This word is so useful that I tried to adopt it; unfortunately, I never became fluent.
3) We humble Midwesterners may demonstrate insufficient devotion to a Texas team and find ourselves unable to defend our position. An airport shuttle driver demanded to know what kind of emergency could possibly take me out of Dallas on the eve of the Texas-Oklahoma football game. He was serious; I was speechless. He scorned me.
Whiskey Mattimoe kicks herself now and then for being too Midwest humble. This usually happens in the presence of a character more confident and eloquent. It always happens in the presence of a well-tended woman oozing sex appeal. Although Whiskey knows her way around the boudoir, her author is aware that this protagonist could use a few lessons in seduction. Maybe she needs to spend a couple years in Texas. I could hook her up. . . .
See Whiskey fall in lust for the first time since her husband died: Whiskey on the Rocks, now available on Nook and Kindle.