As usual, we'll share our most-read articles of the year on the Tendency between Xmas and New Year's. Until then, we're offering a Patreon-exclusive peek at some of the pieces that have made the list and are one of the "Top 18 of '18," along with micro-interviews with their authors.
Author: Taylor Kay Phillips
Published: May 7, 2018
How'd you come up with the piece's premise?
From home! I'm from Kansas City, Missouri but I live in New York now, so I often find myself trying to adjust between Midwestern and East Coast ways of "transferring information." In New York, I get a lot of comments about how nice I am or how much I smile, but in the Midwest sometimes I feel like a cutthroat bitch. In New York people pretty much give it to you straight, whereas if my Midwestern Dad refers to someone as "not super flexible in terms of thinking" - I gird myself for meeting one of the worst people that ever existed. So I had fun with it. It's a piece that's very dear to me.
How easy was it to write?
This one actually came pretty quickly - that whole "write what you know" thing is for real. I just sat down and pounded the first draft out pretty quickly - and then added a few more after running it by my sister. The big thing with this one was that I was super SUPER hesitant to keep the "third element" we'll call it - of still doing something nice at the end.
So for example:
1) “He has a tendency to be friendly”
2) Bitch, run.
3) But also make sure to still wave at him in church, we’re not animals.
I wrote it in at the beginning because it felt right, but was pretty convinced I was going to edit it out eventually. I felt like most of the pieces I'd seen to this effect were quick-hit translation pieces that are "phrase" - "translation of phrase" - The End, so I was nervous about how the addition of that extra step would be received or understood. It felt so necessary, though, so I ended up keeping it! Because I feel like the important thing about Midwesterners is... we're not FAKING the niceness. We're just speaking a little bit of a different language.
Did you get any blowback from folks who thought it was poking fun at Midwesterners a bit too much?
Not at all! I don't think many people interpreted it as "poking fun" in a mean way as much as as a piece that was giving the Midwest a nice little wave and saying "Hey! I see you and I get you!'
I don't think most people from the Midwest are embarrassed that we're like this! I don't feel like anyone's ashamed that we're a generally nice people who speak euphemistically but still feel the range of human emotion.
The most common comments I got that weren't like "omg it me!" were either "The south does this too!" or "You forgot this phrase!!!"
The most common 'phrases I forgot' were:
- "Bless her heart" - which I feel is a bit southern
- The word "ope" - which I don't have an actual phrase with but... we totally say that
- "That's different" - which was an abject failure on my part and absolutely should have been included.