My dialogue at Ess-a-Bagel

That's the excellent bagel and smoked fish shop at 3rd Ave., just north of 50th St.

I order my bagel from a gentleman with a thick New York accent and he eyes me suspiciously.  Finally he grunts out, in a tone slightly less than that of accusation:

Server: "Where are you from?"

(I pause.  There are different answers to this question, depending who is asking and where you are.  Is it about where you were born, where you grew up, where you live now, and in the latter case how specific should the location be?  In Ghana I should say "Washington," though in Portland that answer fails.  In North Carolina I can say "northern Virginia."  In Arizona I should say "Virginia."  In El Salvador I try "Falls Church.")

I answered, after a pause, with a feeling of insecurity:

TC: "New Jersey"

Server: "Really.  You look like a farmer!" (pronounced as if the concept were a deeply alien one)

"I thought you were from California or something."


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