Perhaps my favorite part about living in a different part of the country is the little differences between “old” home and “new” home.
I’ve come to call Giant Eagle Ralph’s. Pop is soda. Freeways are prefaced with the word the – imagine saying the 270 or the 315. And just when you think you’ve mastered the pronunciation of Ventura or Centinela, you find out you’re making the wrong t sound or putting the emphasis on the wrong part of the word (it’s Ven-Tur-a, not Vent-SHur-a, and Cen-ti-NE-la, not Cen-TIN-ela). Oy. And I’m still not 100% on those being correct.
Recently, I learned that Macy’s has always been Macy’s out here. Lazarus was as foreign-sounding to these westerners as Macy’s was to Midwesterners ten years ago. At lunch, my friends repeated the word slowly, questioningly, “La-za-rus?” My heart goes out to the Californian children who never got a Lazzie-Bear or Lazzie-Dog for Christmas.
And Euchre is no different out here – in a room of 15 or so people, only four of us had even heard of this pastime, let alone played it. I was asked “Where is it played?” Shocked, I realized they didn’t even know it was a card game. When asked, “How hard is it?” my fellow Euchre-players and I came up with this description: “It’s harder than War but easier than 5-Card Stud.” I didn’t even want to bring up the words Cornhole or Left-Right-Center.
And on Tuesday, an easterner-turned-westerner asked me if Chi-Chi’s still existed in Ohio. The three Midwesterners at the table, myself being one of them, shrugged our shoulders – eh, we guessed so. This was when the native Californian, our fluent Spanish-speaker, said, “What?! There’s a restaurant called that?!” The rest of us, curious, verified that, in fact, it was printed in big, curly letters on the outside of the restaurant. And, until that day, I’d always thought of Chi-Chi’s as a wholesome family restaurant where the free chips never ended and the waitresses wore ruffly off-the-shoulder blouses and even rufflier skirts. It seems, though, that for all of those years, on Sundays after church, my family was going to the Spanish version of Hooters.
Yes, Chi-Chi’s is Spanish slang for boobs.