John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Good with Numbers

I am a Democratic, Scotch-Irish and English; Caucasian, Presbyterian from mid-American.

I am, in other words, the Bean Soup entree on the Cracker Barrel menu. With unsweetened tea.

I don’t get the benefit of my edgy, fun or complimentary stereotypes

A Jewish friend and law partner explained to me this weekend how a client pulled him aside and said, “You people are good with numbers, right?”

He explained he was confusing Jewish for Asian stereotypes. Asians were good with numbers; Jews good with money.”

But what are Presbyterians known for? Presbyterian is cooler to pronounce than Methodist and we have a more sophisticated fashion sense than Baptists. But who talks about such trivial stereotypes for Presbyterians?

Caucasians? Who gets excited about ordering one scoop of vanilla ice cream on a sugarcane with no sprinkles ? Has any minority group ever in history tried to emulate the dress style of Caucasians. We pick the most obvious and normal manner to wear every article of clothing. It’s like we follow a set of clothing directions perfectly as we dress each morning. And the directions say in bold letters: “No improvising! You could hurt yourself and embarrass your parents. (For Caucasians only. Others disregard)

jyb_musingsEnglish and Scotch-Irish? Who has ever said, “I’d love an order of black beans and rice and a piping hot cup of Earl Grey tea?” Potatoes anyone? And we aren’t known for being especially good with numbers either. We had a run with Colonialism but today that is passé. Can we claim a natural gift for finger painting maybe? No? We at least have to be more interesting than Canadians. C’mon!

Mid-America is a good place to raise a family but isn’t considered an edgy place that inspires new artistic theories.

I have yet to hear someone look at a piece of art and say, “That piece has a heavy Mid-American influence.” Or “That guy is the Andy Wharhol of Kansas.” Of course, we do get credit for Mom (and Dad) Jeans.

Democrat? We aren’t described by our party to strangers as in “He’s above average height, stocky but not overweight, a big Republican.” I guess it is assumed it wasn’t a choice for us –and hence nothing noteworthy or special–and not to expect us to say anything very provocative politically. Which may explain the whole Republican idea that sexual orientation is a choice too. And why they like to talk so much about gay marriage—it is politically provocative. Democrats assume sexual orientation was inherited and pick less titillating and more mundane political subjects. Like filling potholes. Which is important but has never been a swing vote issue in a presidential campaign. And really, who wants to talk about filling potholes? OK, I do.

Which brings me back to my lament that, basically, I know deep down that when Jack Kerouac wrote “The only people for me are the mad ones . The ones who are mad to live. Mad to die. Who never sleep or say a commonplace thing….” Kerouc probably wasn’t thinking of someone like me or my ancestors.

On second thought, he probably was. And then thought of the Biblical verse about vomiting out the lukewarm. And then went on to write his famous passage.
Even spinning through my iPod and about 100 different colorful musical artists, I can only identify with one who probably “gets me.”

Paul Simon. A short little ordinary looking white guy. With a one syllable common first name and two syllable common last name.

And then I remember not even Paul Simon is as bland as me. He’s Jewish and therefore, so I hear, probably good with numbers.


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