Before we get to the whole matter of how to avoid being seen as an Ugly Northwesterner while visiting other parts of the country, a few words about Christmas trees and cats.
You might already know that fresh Christmas trees sometimes bring out the crazed jungle cat in otherwise mild-mannered house tabbies. If so, feel free to skip this part.
But on the chance you are unacquainted with Feline Tannenbaum Syndrome, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
For some cats, Christmas trees act as a powerful hallucinogenic. Though not always. Not every time. Usually just before you hear a loud crash in the living room and your pet emerges with an innocent “What?” expression on its furry face.
Something about bringing a formerly live tree indoors turns some house cats into wild animals bent on climbing it faster than you can say “No, Bootsie – no!”
It’s not that they have anything against the holiday. It’s not anything to do with the War on Christmas. Most cats don’t watch Fox News.
It’s just that introducing the sight and scent of something from the great outdoors excites the predatory instincts in some indoor cats.
Here are a few things to watch for.
Does your cat crouch in front of the tree with its ears back and the tip of its tail ominously twitching from side to side?
If so, it might be time to assume a goaltender’s position between your pet and the tree. Good luck making the save.
Does your cat seem to be staring at the tree as if it might be full of tasty birds and small woodland creatures?
If so, it might be time to explain to the cat that the tree harbors no prey species. But as you undoubtedly already know, felines don’t always listen. Even when you adopt your “And I’m not kidding” tone.
Do your cat’s eyes look like the animal is possessed by demonic spirits?
Sometimes tuna therapy can provide a distraction. Sometimes not.
In the end, you’ll probably wind up having to either extract your cat mid-trunk from the Christmas tree or pick up the fallen tree after your pet has knocked it over by leaping into it with the approximate force of a bowling ball fired from a cannon.
Either way, it’s all part of this festive time of year.
And maybe they’re just trying to pay us back for dressing them in “cute” holiday outfits so we can post amusing photos on Facebook.
OK, now on to our real topic today: What to do when visiting other parts of the country and people hear you are from the Northwest.
Now none of us like being prejudged. We would prefer that people evaluate us on our own merits.
But sometimes strangers hear that you are from the Northwest and, even if Spokane has been mentioned, the images that spring to mind are of Seattle or perhaps Portland. Now certainly those can be delightfully flattering stereotypes. But not always.
You see, sometimes people far from our neck of the woods will have met someone from Seattle who is not a particularly winning ambassador for the Northwest. And so when they hear you are also from the Northwest, they might be excused for wondering if you too tend to be a tad smug.
Well, here are a few things you can say to establish that you should be judged as an individual. Feel free to pick and choose.
“You know, to tell you the truth, I don’t really know that much about wine. But I realize it’s important to my state.”
“No, Spokane is farther from Seattle than New York is from Boston.”
“Well, all I can tell you is a lot of people in the Northwest come from places just like this.”
“This is a really good apple.”
“Hahahahaha. No, I think you have the wrong idea about my part of Washington. Except for a few progressive redoubts in the city of Spokane, we vote like Oklahoma.”
“The thing about the obsession with coffee is that, for some of us, it is one of the few reliable moments of satisfaction in the day. That’s why it’s important.”
“I don’t really care about Seattle professional sports. But your city has more teams in the four major leagues than the entire Northwest.”
“Look, anyone telling you racism is not an issue in the Northwest is either in epic denial or woefully uninformed.”
“To be fair, Washington helped win World War II. Just like your state.”
“It rains here more than it does in Spokane.”
“Well, not having a state income tax isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.”
When you are away from home, do you keep track of the Spokane area’s weather? And what sort of weather do you root for back here while you are away?
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