By Malia Mendez
Although about 40 percent of the class of 2022 graduated from California high schools — and I assume a decent portion of those students come from Southern California — I still find myself on the receiving end of daily taunting for the idiosyncratic #socal things I do.
The first major point of cringe lies in my beloved, surfer-inspired jargon. I can testify from personal experience that people here are not fond of — and in fact, are deeply offended by — the word “gnarly.” I’ve literally only been surfing twice, but this is a fairly normal adjective where I’m from. Also, I’ve been convinced my entire life of a chasm between myself and valley girl tendencies, but my friend from Spokane has pointed out (more than once) that my phone calls with high school friends are littered with their fair share of “shut up!”s and “OH. MY. GOD.”s. None of this is conscious, and in fact, it’s quite revolting to hear recited back to me — but hey, at least it’s not “hella.”
The other thing that incriminates me is my frequent lamentations about the lack of quality boba (yes, boba, not bubble tea) or Asian food up in NorCal, particularly in terms of poke and sushi. I was absolutely privileged to grow up in a hub of cultures and was never at a loss for novel, easily accessible culinary options. On the other end of the spectrum, I also complain a lot about the severe drop in the frequency of my In-N-Out trips since I arrived at university, but I will always come back for my dear, California-grown (probably not?) Animal Fries.
Californians are also apparently known for being terrible and unnecessarily rude drivers, but since I don’t even get to have my car here (note inserted passive aggression about inability to drive frequently — also distinctly Southern Californian), I can’t testify to that being a huge personal issue. I have noticed, though, that I have an intimate relationship with my roads and highways at home that others find plain creepy — would not recommend saying “I miss PCH,” not typically received well. I’ve also noticed myself correcting others’ misunderstandings of California geography (especially if I hear someone is going “down” to San Francisco or “up” to San Jose), and I completely understand why that would be annoying.
Finally, the reason we all have a very special love-hate relationship with the Southern Californians, it is clear that we do not comprehend weather or seasons. Just this weekend, for a dorm trip that maybe had a temperature low of 40 degrees, I had to borrow a friend’s fleece because 1) I didn’t have one and 2) I need a jacket at anywhere under 60. Yes, I complain about the rain and have been experiencing some S.A.D.ness lately, and no, I am not bewildered by palm trees. Still, I am learning to appreciate NorCal in all its glory, one step at a time. And while my self-disclosure permits you to make fun of all of these Southern California quirks, try to have some grace for your cringey SoCal friends who do the same.
Contact Malia Mendez at mjm2000 ‘at’ stanford.edu.