Norfolk, Suffolk, Staunton, Roanoke, Fauquier — the list goes on. Virginia has a unique regional pronunciation of every town in the state. The way people refer to a town can determine if one is from the area or not. Usually we take a wild guess and hope we come close to it. Using too many or too little syllables will cause us to laugh, but you will at least get to hear us pronounce the town you’ve muddled correctly.
If you wear high black Nike socks with sandals, hang out at the Potomac Mills Mall, and have the bass turned all the way in your 1999 Honda Civic, you’re immediately deemed a “NOVA Kid.” If you wear thick black-rimmed glasses, praise people with beards, claim to be a coffee connoisseur, and spend your summer days laying on the rocks at Belle Isle or hang out at Carytown, you’re definitely from RVA.
We love them one week and hate them the next. Mondays get much worse after a victory for non-fans, because we act as if they had just won the Super Bowl and landed on the moon in the same day. It doesn’t even matter that they represent Washington DC, play in Fedex Field in Landover, Maryland, located 20 minutes from where the Baltimore Ravens play — no matter how terrible the owners, coaches, and players perform, Redskins fans will stick with their team regardless of any controversy.
The SOLs (Standards of Learning) was the only test in which you could fail, but still pass. From elementary to high school, the SOLs were an entire day dedicated to taking a series of tests on math, science, history, and English. It was a review of the material we learned a year prior, but the students were never actually graded on them. So all of the pressure was actually a complete sham for kids; SOLs were used as a way for school administrators and teachers to evaluate teachers.
The chant is most notably used during home football games, to rally the stadium between quarters. Sometimes, the yell comes in after the team rushes in to the stadium after Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” plays and the entire arena jumps up and down. I think only the students of Virginia Tech will know what a “hokie” actually is.
The story goes that in 1896, senior O.M. Stull won first prize in a contest for his “hokie” yell. Stull explained the word was merely the product of his imagination, and was used only as an attention-grabber for his yell. The name stuck.
Nothing got us more excited to be out of school than going to the actual places were it all took place. One year, you’re taking a trip to a president’s mansion, like Mount Vernon or Monticello. The next, you’re going to the Jamestown settlement and Colonial Williamsburg, where people dress up in period costumes and say funny things like “codswallop” and “tithee.” In high school, we watched Civil War reenactments on their actual battlefields such as Fredericksburg and Manassas. Virginia history was something we were actually interested in, because so much history surrounded us.
In Virginia, it does not snow — it rains. Virginia can be guaranteed snow one day out of the year. Then the next day, it’s back to raining. But hey, we still got off school because of it. The same goes for the summertime; it can become miserably hot and humid, and simple tasks, such as getting the mail, leaves a trail of sweat to the mailbox and back.
It’s common to have a friend whose parents were either a colonel, major, captain, lieutenant, or sergeant in the armed forces. And a lot of our friends were people who had moved more than twice in the same year. Despite having an intimidating presence, most military families are very friendly and are interested in the new area they’ve moved to.
Virginia has seven military bases, including Quantico and the Pentagon, located in NoVa. Those who live close to bases are accustomed to the booming sounds that make ones house shake briefly. As of late, seeing a drone fly overhead has become very common.
Southwestern Virginia remains a mystery to those who don’t live there. It’s a region of the state where you just have to go see it for yourself. Many Virginians who are unfamiliar with the area immediately speculate that the region is like District 12 in The Hunger Games — known for hunting, coal mining, and moonshine. A popular weekend destination was hiking McAfee’s Knob in Roanoke, Virginia, but that’s about it.
Whether it’s traffic through the Hampton Roads Tunnel, 295 near Richmond, or I-95 north of Stafford, we’re always in for a very long wait. It could be construction, an accident, the rain, or a total mystery. And no one goes anywhere near the highways during the holiday seasons. It is utter chaos, and can drive us to the point of pulling into a rest stop to take a nap and wait for it to end.
It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is — Carl’s Ice Cream in Fredericksburg, Virginia, is the best soft serve ice cream you’ll ever eat. It’s the only ice cream stand that has a line stretching around the building, even in bad weather. Despite only serving three flavors (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry), the ice cream stand also offers sundaes, shakes, malts, and floats. The only time it ever closes is the Sunday before Thanksgiving until the Friday of Presidents Day Weekend, so we try to get our ice cream fix in before that.
We say, “All bad drivers come from Maryland.” They say, “All bad drivers come from Virginia.” Truth is, everyone is a bad driver. Some go fast, some go slow. Some know how to merge, while others leave it up for fate to decide if their Prius can fit between two semi-trucks. With all of the highway renovations that are taking place in the surrounding areas of Washington DC, it has become every driver’s nightmare due to the increase of accidents occurring. Most times, an accident involves someone from Virginia and Maryland who stand as far apart from one another as possible while exchanging insurance information.