Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | May 21, 2009

Shout-Outs: Primghar, Iowa

primghar

I walked into a gas station in Primghar, Iowa, yesterday.

It was roughly 3:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday. A workday.

Yet, for some reason every booth in that gas station was filled. There were at least fourteen old men in there gossiping with one another. They were so loud that all their voices jumbled together to make one clamorous soundtrack of war stories, crop prices and complaints about grandchildren, politicians and the wind.

When I stepped into the gas station…everyone of them. All fourteen of them with NO exceptions…

…stopped everything…

…and stared directly at me.

No more talking. No more eye-contact with the person at their table. No more sipping their afternoon coffee. No more anything…just staring.

My attire was very northwest Iowa trendy–jeans, t-shirt and a ball cap–the only things that set me apart were a leather wrist cuff and my red shoes.

I ignored the attention and wandered over to the coolers to snag a soda, all the while, all eyes remained on me.

When I disappeared behind the nacho cheese dispenser, the voices started up again. They were quieter and more in sync than the loud calamity of voices I’d heard prior to stepping into their view.

From what I could gather from their whisperings back and forth they were discussing the kid who’d just walked in. Being that I was the only person who’d entered the store, I deduced that they meant me.

A few more seconds of eavesdropping revealed that there were only two reasons an otherwise generic-looking Midwestern boy would walk around with red shoes and what appeared to be part of a belt wrapped around his arm.

I am either a raging homosexual or high on some sort of narcotic substance.

That’s it. I either love drugs or dudes. No other options.

Most of the old men didn’t have much knowledge in the ways of dude-lovin’ so they speculated more on which drugs I may have ingested prior to entering their sleepy little gas station.

The one I heard whispered the most was Meth…although one of the old men did actually utter the phrase “Mary Jane.” A colloquialism I thought had turned passé when Tom Petty went all lyrical about it years back.

Whatever the case may be…the gay, druggie in the red shoes and wrist cuff who just wanted a Mountain Dew promptly received an invite to a party from the two lovely (and presumably high school-aged) gals behind the counter.

Apparently they didn’t believe I looked gay…OR…They DID believe that I looked like a druggie and they were hoping I could hook them up?!

Either way…I wanted to express my love for small-town Iowa where it is totally okay to do something out of stride with the rest of town–just as long as you’re cool with everyone talking about you behind your back.

Yeehaw!


Responses

  1. Booths in a gas station? As in booths where you sit and eat food? In a gas station?

    Like

    • yes…very common in the Midwest!!

      Like

  2. Like… a gas station/diner kinda thing? A truck stop?

    Midwesterners are weird.

    Like

    • …just a regular old gas station

      they almost all have booths for people to sit and chit-chat and drink their coffee and stuff.

      Like

  3. Did you go to the party?

    Did you supply them with Battery Acid and Sudaffed?

    Did you attempt to wear your wrist band under your dress shirt at the wedding?

    Are your red shoes in fact made of leather/awesomeness?

    After doing a line do you rub some of the Coke on your teeth?

    Like

  4. […] Shout-Outs: Primghar, Iowa « Blank Stares and Blank Pages […]

    Like

  5. Hello! I first want to start off with -Midwest people are not, for a fact, “Weird.” People who live and are from the Midwest are old fashion, down to earth, and respectful of others. The one thing that is wrong in this post is the fact they did assume the red shoes meant one of two things. Obviously it did not mean either BUT again, people from the Midwest are old fashion, down to earth and respectful of others. Old fashion means WORK BOOTS, Coffee at the local gas station, and meeting with the people they have in common of both these things. Down to earth means normal and not out of the ordinary. Respectful of others means waving at every car while driving by because you might know them or showing a caring side when a local family is in need. The man in the red shoes is non of these 3 attributes I am explaining the people from the Midwest are. FIRST, the red shoes are not old fashion. They are trendy and are not part of the ordinary WORK BOOTS and work jean attire that the people from Primghar wear. Second, down to earth, trying to make a statement with your RED shoes is not down to earth to those men sitting and drinking their coffee which created a couple assumptions. Last but not least, respectful of others. The man walking into that gas station with every eye on him should have waved and said hello as if they were apart of the community. It may not be a big thing to you, but to those men who are there day in and day out, meeting with their friends, it would have been RESPECTFUL. It may have even prevented them to assume about you and your RED shoes. So before going and stating what you think about Primghar, IA or the Midwest, look around and observe the wonderful things about a small town and not the “negative” things that could have been prevented in the first place.

    This post was created by a woman who was born and raised in Primghar, IA. Respect others and you may get in return the respect you DESERVE.

    Like

    • First and foremost, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my blog and leave a comment.

      Secondly, as I am not sure if you’ve read any more of my blog to discern this information, I wanted to let you know that I am also from the Midwest; I was born and raised just a few miles away in Hartley, IA and members of my family have lived in Primghar for the better part of the last half century.

      Third, you seem to more or less prove my point about small towns over and over again in your response. In telling me that people from the Midwest are “old fashioned, down to earth, and respectful of others” you’re setting the tone for all three of those descriptors to only fall into whatever tiny definition that you have set for the world.

      You also seem to have gone ahead and made a personal decision that I meet none of those criteria and somehow I am not a Midwesterner based on the fact that I once dared to wear a pair of red shoes into a gas station.

      “FIRST, the red shoes are not old fashion. They are trendy and are not part of the ordinary WORK BOOTS and work jean attire that the people from Primghar wear.”

      I am not a manual laborer. Even if I was, I was not at work. Why should I be wearing work boots?

      Implying that everyone needs to dress the same way to be accepted is ridiculous and sets the same tone as standard bullying wherein anyone different is considered any outsider and it is suddenly okay that they be subjected to less respect and unfair treatment. Please explain to me why the rest of the world needs to conform to Primghar, Iowa’s standards of normal attire?

      Also, tangentially-related: most of the “old fashioned” men and women I see in the Midwest anymore are trotting around in sneakers, not work boots.

      “Second, down to earth, trying to make a statement with your RED shoes is not down to earth to those men sitting and drinking their coffee which created a couple assumptions.”

      I was not attempting to “make a statement” by wearing red shoes. I was trying to wear shoes by wearing my red shoes. As I mentioned above, I am not a construction worker or a farmer or anyone who would require the use of work boots, especially not when I’m in town visiting family.

      Wearing shoes that are, in fact, just shoes – and wouldn’t draw so much as a second look anywhere else – isn’t trying to make a statement in the slightest. They were comfy shoes that just happened to be red. I fail to see how wearing red shoes can be the decision-maker for whether or not a person is “down to earth.”

      If anything, I’d think that a group of grown men being drawn into stunned silence by the mere presence of red shoes would be a much larger sign of not being “down to earth” on their parts. Red shoes aren’t a statement, they’re shoes.

      “Last but not least, respectful of others. The man walking into that gas station with every eye on him should have waved and said hello as if they were apart of the community. It may not be a big thing to you, but to those men who are there day in and day out, meeting with their friends, it would have been RESPECTFUL.”

      I find it amusing that my not waving and saying hello to a bunch of complete strangers who have gone into stunned silence while staring at me and judging me denotes a “lack of respect” on my part. I’m not the one who started whispering like a gossip circle and making snap judgments about someone else, that was the cluster of “respectful” Midwesterners that you keep lauding for all of their super-duper-Midwestern sensibilities.

      If these Midwesterners you’ve so lovingly defended were the old fashioned, down to earth, respectful type, then please tell me why is there any burden on a stranger to pretend he’s part of the community? If I’m not comfortable talking to people who are – once again – complete and total strangers, I should be allowed to not talk to them. That’s how my Mama raised me…in the Midwest (she’s from Primghar, by the way).

      The second I stepped into that gas station, I was already being judged and discriminated against by the community simply for wearing a pair of red shoes and yet it’s me who lacks respect for not making a showy entrance with “howdys” and “hey fellas” to a group of complete strangers. Yeah, that makes oh-so-much sense.

      The impetus is not on me to “pretend” that I’m part of the community, it’s on the community to not be an unwelcoming, hostile place. In that regard, Primghar failed.

      “So before going and stating what you think about Primghar, IA or the Midwest, look around and observe the wonderful things about a small town and not the “negative” things that could have been prevented in the first place.”

      As I mentioned at the beginning, I am a born and raised Midwesterner and I’m also a living, breathing human-being, both of which afford me the right to state what I think about anything. It’s one of the perks of being alive and having the capability to form your own thoughts and opinions.

      There are countless things to love about the Midwest, believe me, you can find plenty of them scattered throughout other entries on my blog, but for you to somehow turn all of the blame on me for the events depicted in this post is ridiculously out of touch with reality.

      Trying to tell me that the “negative” things could have been “prevented” is very intriguing, because I did nothing wrong. I went into a gas station wearing normal, everyday clothes that you can find anywhere else in the world. I didn’t speak to strangers who were already in the process of judging me and making assumptions about me and my lifestyle based on a pair of shoes.

      How was I going to “prevent” this situation? Not go into the gas station? Not go into Primghar? Not go back to Iowa? Change into someone else’s clothes before entering the store so that I’d assimilate appropriately and then start greeting a bunch of old men who don’t know who the hell I am as if I were a long-lost grandson?! There’s nothing I did that needed to be prevented, because I didn’t do anything wrong.

      The fact that you have a close-minded view of what is and is not acceptable for literally anyone coming or going from Primghar is astounding. The rest of the world didn’t stop evolving and changing in the 1950s. Not everyone is a farm boy who should be toting around in overalls and work boots. Not everyone is “Old Man Jenkins” that you know from church and wave at when you see him. Not every pair of colored sneakers is a “STATEMENT” against the world, sometimes it’s just a comfy pair of sneakers.

      Open your eyes to the fact that not everyone in the world is going to fit into the tiny little slice of “acceptable” that you’ve drawn up over the years and I think you’ll find a lot less motivation to post angry, holier-than-though, formatting-free responses to six-year old blog posts about your tiny town.

      Have a wonderful day.

      Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 167 other followers

%d bloggers like this: