The foreign opinions of Americans vary widely. Abroad people either love us, or feel obligated to assault our ears with a spit-laced diatribe about what ‘fuck-wits’ our federal politicians are, within four seconds of gauging our accent.
The foreign opinions on Californians, however, vary little and tend to be loaded with warmth and enthusiasm. We are the world’s puppy, so it’s hard to hate us. Our soil sprouted Tupac, Mickey Mouse, Metallica, Tony Hawk, the Egg McMuffin, and Hollywood. We even elected a governor into public office who gained recognition for lifting weights and blowing shit up on screen; and people abroad idolize him.
That being said, when asked where we’re from, California always wins over America. On one hand, it usually sways the topic of conversation from political ideology to cinema. On the other, it still functions as a method to establish which way our Left-Coast politics mostly lean.
It rarely gets that cold here. And though East Coasters and Northerners might be well-justified to slap anyone here across the mouth for calling a ‘dip below 60 degrees’ cold, that’s just how it pans out. Regardless, when we feel a bite in the air, guys respond by armoring themselves in hats, scarves, hoodies, long pants, and sandals. Girls don hats, scarves, jackets, Ugg Boots, and short shorts.
Maybe it’s because we can’t find our seldom-worn shoes or pants. Maybe we just refuse to relinquish our traditional SoCal gear to intrusive weather. No matter what the cause, we will proudly strut the streets in an outfit that completely ignores physics and logic.
The garb will often garner “Nice get’up, idiot!” from transplants or visitors who pass us on the sidewalk. We usually respond with laughter — it’s funny because it’s true. Plus, the laughter helps to keep our freezing legs and feet warm.
Want to surf, snowboard, and hit Disneyland all in one day? You can do that here! Want to get sangria-sideways by a pool in Palm Springs and riot your way through a rock show at the world-famous Troubadour after a nap? You can do that here, too. On a budget and just want to hike some breathtaking trails or read your favorite book in the otherworldly atmosphere of Balboa Park? Of course we can accommodate.
Between the geography, the climate, and the culture, Southern California is a year-round playground. Even our annual events like Comic-con and Coachella draw crowds from across the globe.
We are that affluent kid on your block with every toy imaginable at his or her disposal. The one who you always hoped would have a sleepover so you could binge-play while he watched cartoons. The difference between us and that kid though, is that we never get bored with our toys. If you get bored in SoCal, there’s a good chance you’re doing it wrong.
There’s a good chance that if you’re not from Southern California, you swiftly stamped Jeff Spicoli as the poster boy for ‘worst-case incompetence.’ On the contrary, if you’re from here, part of you revered him as an ambassador of autonomy, dreaming big, and enjoying the shit out of the time you’re given on Earth.
Even amidst the haze of bong loads, Spicoli could clearly see that there is more to life than workloads, stress, and taking orders from The Man. So do we. This is probably why East Coasters often call us lazy when it comes to pacing ourselves through a work day. But we prefer to call ourselves laid-back, and you can often find us in that position under the sun. We’ll get the work done after it goes down.
We understand this attitude isn’t for everybody, but if all you need in life is “some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and [you’re] fine,” then come join us on the Golden Coast.
Nor is any other health-and-fitness guru for that matter. From Muscle Beach to Jane Fonda, Southern California has long been viewed as the land of soft foods and hard bodies. There’s a tendency to think that we all live on kale smoothies — or whatever’s new food fad — and preach Pilates like it’s gospel.
Do some pontificate on the ‘salvation’ they find in self-proclaimed personal fitness? Yes. They’re the ones who scoff if you tell them you’ve never heard of P90X, or look at you like you just hit a kitten with a shovel because you pronounced ‘quinoa’ wrong at Whole Foods. Thankfully, we’re not all like that.
Sure, we like to be active and eat fresh when we feel like it, but we also love trans fats, high ABVs, and occasional stints of lethargy. It’s probably why we’re home to the best burgers (In-n-Out) and best craft beers in the United States. Plus, we lead the West Coast in beach lounging time.
If there were awards for driving in traffic, then we would reign supreme. But if there were awards for driving in weather, the we would be barred from the ceremony.
Newcomers to Southern California are often appalled by the vehicular carnage they witness on the freeways during a SoCal shower. And ‘shower’ is the appropriate word. On average, we get a fourth of the rain that Miami does, but from the number of ditch-run trucks and twisted-up sedans (no, we don’t all drive Jeeps and Hummers) that span lengths of road, you’d assume that we were in the midst of a biblical flood.
Usually few people are hurt, as many drive at glacial speeds, yet we still manage to hydroplane into medians and each other. Can we help it? No. We barely see rain, why should we be skilled at driving in it? We handle earthquakes better than we handle rainfall.
On the bright side, you can usually get your boss to grant you a half-day off on account of the metal mess that could be blocking your route to work.
The list of Hollywood’s self-entitled runs deep, especially in contrast to the shallowness they seem to spray into the world via the cable box. From The Hills to Laguna Beach to Keeping Up With the Kardashians, SoCal-based reality-TV has a habit of making us all look like self-obsessed whinge factories.
That being said, we’re not all of that category. Even amongst the Hollywood elites are people who are heavily dedicated to humanitarian causes outside of themselves. Sean Penn, Angelina Jolie, and Ben Affleck are just a few celebrities who have made massive positive impacts around the world and right at home.
As for those outside of Hollywood’s circles of power, many of us are dedicated to making Southern California and the world a better place for everybody. We are firefighters, social workers, scientists, tech workers, comedians, or musicians, but all of us are Southern Californians. We wouldn’t cry for 40 minutes if a bird shat on our Maserati.