If You Ain’t Dutch

There is a unique saying to where I grew up, which is PA Dutch Country. That unique saying is, "Have a nice day!" Actually, it is, "If you ain't dutch, you ain't much." Except the very name PA Dutch is severely misleading.The original white settlers of this region did not come from the Netherlands. You will find zero clogs, windmills, pickled herring, or maniacal speed skaters in my hometown. What you will find are lots of wursts (liverwurst, knockwurst,bratwurst, you'rethewurst), hex signs, distelfinks, fastnachts, und so forth. Dutch is the anglicized version of Deutsch which means German. In the interest of accuracy, the region should actually be called PA German Country. If we were REALLY going for accuracy, the region would be called Pimple on the Asshole of Life, but that's a whole separate matter.

If you were to visit my "hometown" of Kutztown, PA today, you would see horse and buggies still going down Main St. You could go outside of the town and see Mennonite schools with the kids still dressed how they would have been in the 1800s. You see, there are two different kinds of PA Dutch: Amish and Mennonite.The Amish concentrate around Lancaster County and the Mennonite cluster in Berks County. Besides having different county commissioners, I always explain that Mennonites are essentially liberal Amish. They will scandalously allow the use of telephones, electricity, and tractors, whereas the Amish prefer to eschew such crazy conveniences. Although, to the Amish's credit, I don't know of a Mennonite movie where Kelly McGillis was bathing nude in a barn. So, you kinda have to give credit where credit is due. The correct pronunciation of Amish is: AHHH Mish. Not AYYY Mish. There is very little diversity in the PA Dutch region, so to the Brooklynite tourist who slowed his car down, rolled down the window, and asked me if I was "AYY Mish" when I was nine, I wish I had been witty enough to have replied with something better than "ummm...no.” There is no sister Mennonite city in Korea, China, Japan, or any other place I've been asked if I'm from.

!Now I live in another region with a catchy slogan."Don't mess with Texas!" Many of you know that my wife and I eagerly await our departure from this very interesting state with no plans of ever returning. Although, I should have some gratitude as it is Texas that made me so proud to be a Yankee. Texas does not possess the reasons to leave that Kutztown does. It proudly possesses its own distinct and local reasons to skedaddle as quickly as possible. The tying theme of these two locations is they both have annoying catch phrases about themselves. I can't remember the locals sharing in California wine country, "If you're not from Napa, you're a piece of crappa." However, phrases like, "If you ain't Dutch", or "Don't mess with Texas" are pretty accurate barometers of how terrible a place it is. Thankfully, the only catch phrase I could find for Korea was, "The Poland of Asia." Ok, I obviously made that one up, but I did come to that exact realization while researching Korean history and realized Korea has been conquered... A LOT. Korea was the ping pong ball to the paddles of China and Japan. Now, it's being used in beer pong and getting soaked in American beer. So, there aren't going to be any catchy slogans any time soon. We're thinking of moving there. Coincidence? I think not!

So, to sum this up here is my advice for you. If you find yourself considering living somewhere long-term, research whether that place has a catch phrase for itself. If it does, remember you've been fairly warned!

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