There are a lot of misconceptions - a plethora of stereotypes - that go with all types of people. Race, gender, the way we walk or talk; no matter what there will always be those little misconceptions ... those miniature stereotypes that follow us around.
Isn't that wonderful (she says in as sarcastic a tone as possible)? It can be so demeaning... but in the case of a Yooper, I think it's something to laugh about.
I mean, think about it: it's almost as if we lived on a completely separate part of the country or in the middle of the ocean ... like Hawaii! When I was downstate for the final forensics tournament for the year, we met some nice people. We were all talking and having a great time and eventually one of them asked where we were from, and then we said Marquette to which they replied, "so how did you get here?" You have no idea how badly I wanted to say "horse and buggy."
I wasn't fully aware that people didn't know all that much about life in the Upper Peninsula. When one of my friends told me that when they were in Florida for a family reunion and one of their cousins asked her what we did in our one week without snow I thought she was joking. But then one of our new friends from the tournament asked us if we drove snowmobiles to work and/or school. At that point, I found that the "rumors" were true.
My response to this was "tears streaming down my face" laughter, which is good to have every once in awhile. We eventually set them straight. Yes, we do have snow days, but not often in May... however, we did come close that one time. No, we didn't take a boat to this tournament; we have a bridge (which is why we call you trolls)! And then, there was my personal favorite: we do have electricity! An answer to a legitimately asked question, no lie.
When I got home, instead of talking about the fact that my forensics duo partner and I got 19th out of 24th (on a sore throat and coughing fits), we ended up talking about the people from downstate and their misconceptions about us and why we didn't say "eh" at the end of our sentences. My dad added more, saying that when he was in the Army, he was compensated on fuel for traveling from Marquette all the way through Wisconsin to get to a part of the Lower Peninsula, the other guy apparently didn't know that we had a bridge. My mom added that when her sister came up here for a visit she had no idea what a pasty was.
While we were downstate at that forensics tournament, our lifestyles almost seemed like an inside joke. Only we knew the truth, it seemed. I have no problem with living in the U.P. In fact, I love it. People seemed to think that everyone in our towns knew each other, that "car sledding" was an everyday thing, and that we all have these funny accents and say "eh" all the time. Were we supposed to play along?
No matter what awkward stereotype I may end up getting later on in my life for living here it'll always be great to be a Yooper ... eh?
Editor's note: Theresa Hermann, 15, is a freshman at Marquette Senior High School. She is a member of the 8-18 Media Senior Team and she plays trumpet in the high school band. In her spare time she likes to write and make movies. She is a daughter of James and Gail Hermann. 8-18 Media is a youth journalism program of the Upper Peninsula Children's Museum. Through the program, teams of kids write news stories and commentaries on issues important to youth and about any good, or bad, things youth are up to. For more information call 906-226-7874, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.