Why I love Ohio

My brother raised his arms up high and shouted, “I love the U.S.!” He was visiting from Brazil and we were on the beach in Malibu. I was surprised by his out of nowhere outburst of love for my adopted country. After all, he had been to my house in Ohio and had not declared any love to Wayne County, the place we now call “home.”

Maybe that’s because he never saw a demolition derby at the Wayne County Fair, ate fried Oreo cookie, Learch’s doughnuts, or rode a bike on the hills leading to Hocking Hills. He never went to Cedar Point or heard a barbershop quartet. My bother is an urbanite who is used to the high culture of the theater and the music hall. He doesn’t speak Ohioan.

How could he know that at any other time of the week the noon meal is “lunch,” except on Sunday, when it is called “dinner”? And how would he be able to guess that “soda” here is simply “pop”? (By the way, some friends of mine invited a group of Chinese students over for “dinner” on Sunday and they showed up around four! Others told their out-of-town guests to bring “pops” and they brought “Popsicles”)!

I heard that somewhere in Wayne County a couple who had moved from the city was suing because of the smell of animal-based fertilizer that hovers in the air at certain times in the summer. And I have to confess, at first I thought it was strange, but now even I need my manure fix to make the steam of summer more complete… Or maybe not!

And try to ask directions in Ohio? People will give you a manual, complete with maps and landmarks that will ensure you will get there with your eyes closed. This was before GPS’s, which now make it impossible for commercials to make fun of men who supposedly never stop to ask for directions. (I must not be fully man then!). My brother-in-law used to give me directions, complete with the sounds the train would make when approaching a crossroad. Sometimes he would also imitate the cows, if one of the landmarks was a farm with large animals. How I miss those directions, you dumb GPS!

Only in Ohio you can take your family out in the country in search of a live Christmas tree and when you follow the sign to the woods, out pops a drunk farmer in overalls carrying a shotgun, asking you, “Which one do you want?” while pointing to a bunch of high pine trees.

Fearing for the safety of your family, and especially the little ones, who thought they were out for the greatest adventure of all times, you simply point to the tree nearest to you and watch in disbelief as the farmer aims toward the tree top and shoots it, making it come tumbling down like a landing Santa without a parachute. You pick up the smoking tree, pay your five bucks, and head for dodge as fast as you can. True story, happened to a friend of mine, Jerry Christensen. Those of you who know him can ask him to corroborate.

But my brother would have no way of knowing any of that. I thought of trying to explain to him why I love Ohio, then I remembered the story of the Christmas tree and decided to leave it alone. He might suspect we were all crazy around here and never come to visit again!

Ivanildo C. Trindade