Several years ago, a New Yorker asked me a question that remains my go-to anecdote for how East Coasters (and much of the world) stereotype California. He asked: “So you’re from California. Do you go surfing every weekend?”
Although my first impulse was to laugh hysterically at his question, I gave him some slack. He was a prep school boy from the Upper East Side in Manhattan, and his only impression of California — besides TV shows like the OC and Laguna Beach — was of that warm, sunny day as we sat at a picnic table under a clear blue sky. He was blissfully unaware of the heavy, rolling fog and the ice-cold Pacific waters that made surfing such an unlikely pastime in Northern California.
Having attended a school notorious for its liberal heritage (“liberal” is to put it mildly), I am well acquainted with encountering misperceptions of places and spaces that are often hilarious, and at times, bizarre.