Friday, January 18, 2008

We ARE Weird Here!

Here we are up in our little corner of the lower 48. We are nothing like our southern neighbors in California. People from Nebraska, Kansas, Ohio, or Iowa seem like aliens from a different planet to us. The South? They scare us. Northeasterners? We do not even speak the same language. Pacific Northwesterners love to talk and read about themselves. The issues we deal with day and day out are peculiar to us. As a result, an insurance company has decided to capitalize on our quirks by basing an entire ad campaign on....US!

True to my Northwest heritage, I am not a commercial person nor do I love insurance companies but the Pemco ad idea does seem to strike a chord with us. I think it is funny and clever, I admit it. They have created a number of Northwest profiles and they are featuring them in their TV and radio advertisements. We do seem to be an eclectic group of odd folks identifiable across the world. You might say, "Well, that is an exaggeration. People traveling in say, Africa, wouldn't know the difference between groups of Americans." Au contraire! My son, Lucas, has spent the last few months in Europe and he took a little detour into Spain and Morocco. He was traveling with a school friend who went to the University of Montana but who grew up in Portland. As they were walking around the markets of Marrakesh, a group of American tourists spotted them.

"Are you two from the Pacific Northwest, by any chance?" Was it their back packs? Or how about the raggedy jeans? REI plastered on their water bottles? Perhaps Lucas' hair and beard?

"Uh..., yea, I am from Seattle and she is from Portland?!" Lucas replied to the East Coasters. "How did you know? Is it our accent that gave us away?" Yep, you can spot a Northwesterner continents away!

Lately, they have been showing on TV Northwest Profile #16, Roadside Chainsaw Wood Carver. Doesn't every place have these people carving orcas, eagles, and bears out of left over tree parts to put on your porch or in your garden? I guess not. Other favorites of mine are Sandals and Socks Guy, Profile #56, and 50 Degrees Shirts Off Guy, #45, with his disgusting white belly. Of course, they had to have a reflection of our view of East Coasters in profile #100, Confused East Coast Transplant. This poor woman jay walks and gets caught but cannot understand why everyone is so polite, nice, apologetic, quiet and reserved.

Yesterday, I heard one of the car insurance ads on my car radio. It was Northwest Profile #96 and I about drove off the road because I was laughing---at myself. Number 96 is Walla Walla Wine Wine Woman Woman. This woman is all about pairing the correct wine with the food and is clearly concerned about which wine goes best with a Walla Walla onion. You will find her in the tasting rooms of Walla Walla. Ok, I am not that picky and I will drink Washington red wine with about anything but......Walla Walla Wine Wine Woman Woman---cracks me up. Oh, and I have been known to visit a few of those Walla Walla wine tasting rooms. I mean, they are so close to Kaley's dorm, after all.

The Pemco website allows Northwesterners to add their own profiles to the list. I should participate because I do not see profiles that describe exactly every facet of my typical Puget Sound family. We are more a combination of many of them. Dave is "Absent Minded UW Professor Guy Who Buys Sweaters at Costco." Kaley is "Why Isn't There a Body of Water in the Helena Valley Girl?" Lucas is "World Traveler Who Must Eat Salmon in Seattle Guy." And me? "Crazy Binocular Person Who Looks for Whale Spouts."

However, I did see some Pemco profiles besides Walla Walla Wine Wine Woman Woman that apply to my family. For Kaley, # 63 works: Belltown Regional Fare Uber-Foodie. This person can be spotted at Delaurenti's deli counter ordering shaved proscuitto (or maybe those expensive local goat cheeses) or taking classes at Sur La Table or buying Tom Douglas cook books or serving Alder-Smoked Copper River Salmon with Coriander Papaya Coulis on a Bed of Sea Greens----and yes, truffle oil stains on her clothes.

Lucas is definitely Northwest Profile #5: Northwest Male Action Figure. He has a scrubby three day beard and salt encrusted hair. The vehicle of choice is an old 4x4 (like a 1987 Jeep Cherokee, perhaps?) loaded with outdoor gear. Favorite food is energy bars and he is friends with rocks, trees, and the three day week.

And Dave? Absolutely profile #77: Perennial Power Washer. This guy can be spotted in his aggregate driveway fighting water with water to destroy the moss moss everywhere moss (and maybe the icky black stuff that covers the sidewalk on the entire street.) Of course, he has water protective clothing in bright bright yellow hanging in the garage annoyingly close to my car door and he spends more money on a power washer than I have on furniture in 20 years. Oh wait, that part is not on the website.

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Things always at hand (the hiker bottle is my Christmas present from my brother) in the Pacific Northwest Home. Oh, and my kitchen table base? Yep, carved by a roadside chainsaw wood carver near Sultan.

I cannot believe I just spent this much time on an insurance company advertisement website. But you see, it is fun to read about ourselves.

Here is the link to the Pemco website with all of the Northwest Profiles entitled, "A Helpful Guide to the People of the Northwest. Because around here, the skies are sometimes gray but the people are colorful."