Wait… I want to add something to what I wrote earlier. I don’t want to give the impression that the country is full of stupid, insincere people who will spit in your pancakes.
I met a lot of nice people traveling across the country. I had plenty of conversations with people who were very genuine, and, most importantly, they laughed at my jokes.
I live in a town where if I shout out the window, “It’s Tuesday!” someone will shout back, “Yes, and…” But out there in the country, most people are genuinely surprised and amused when someone out of nowhere starts riffing on something they just said. I think there were a lot of situations where I was able to put people at ease very quickly, so they could stop worrying about the intentions of this huge man with short dyed blond hair.
Now, like I said, there were some people who were oozing fake civility at me. It seemed pretty obvious, and I tended to shut up around them. But more often than not, people wanted to know something about my trip when I told them I was driving from L.A. to D.C. and back. People like the big-haired older Texan woman who was the first person I met to do the fake smile stick out in my mind because the experience was a little unnerving. But people like her were the exception, not the rule.
I will note some odd, seemingly state-wide impressions: Every woman I saw in West Virginia appeared to have a beard. I mean, an obvious, better-than-most-teenaged-boys-level beard. I wrote previously about the skittish behavior of everyone in Utah. Other than that, people were mostly just… people.
I’m sure in a lot of cases they and I would be mutually mortified if we started talking religion or politics. But that doesn’t mean they’re not nice people. Except for Teabaggers.