Average Jane

Will the real Washingtonian please stand up?

It started with a line… “Are you from Philly? No? That’s funny because all the most beautiful girls tonight have been from Philly.”

I was as inclined to believe this line as I am any line I hear when I’m out at a bar (especially when the line I hear most often is, “Nice glasses. You look like a librarian.”). But the Philly line was particularly surprising as I was supposed to be at a casting call for an ad campaign featuring “real Washingtonians”. Apparently most of whom were from Philly.

So it made me stop and think, what makes a Washingtonian? To be fair, I guess if Washingtonians are exclusively persons from the District of Columbia, then I, too, was an imposter. But let’s move forward under the assumption that the common accepted definition of the term extends to include Montgomery County and Northern Virginia natives, as well.

Riddle me this: At what point does a person get to claim rights to a city, a town, a state, a country?  I have lived in a few places. Miami (4 years), England (6 months), Seattle (11 months) and in each of those places I claimed to be from somewhere else: Miami (Maryland — yes, that’s the state near DC that isn’t Virginia), England (America — It’s not my fault, I didn’t vote for him), Seattle (Washington– yeah, the other one).

But when I’m in DC, I find that when other people claim to be from here, I doubt them. “I’m from DC.” Oh yeah? Where did you go to high school? “Oh, well I grew up in Ohio.”  A-HA!

Or, even better. This one: I ask where they’re from. “DC,” they reply. My immediate follow-up, “Oh, Montgomery County or Virginia?” I suppose when it come to the latter, I have found myself equally guilty.

Do you agree that there’s a difference between living somewhere and being from somewhere? With DC being such a “melting pot” of a city, I feel like there might be a hierarchy of resentment for people from *not* here.

Tier 1- People who are actually from DC who are sick of being asked if they are actually from DC

Tier 2 – People who are from the DC metro area who still know how to navigate the metro better than imports

Tier 3 – People who have lived here for a long time, and can now officially hate tourists

So back to the evening’s activities. I went on this casting call, had my ego stroked better than… *ahem* … never mind the metaphors.  It was something I have thought about for a long time now. To be a model. I know, I know. Gag me. But I guess every girl wants to be told she’s pretty, right?

I fell right into the game, telling the photographer that I’d have no problem standing out in the freezing cold weather in a t-shirt. “I’m good with the cold.” (Anyone care to explain the untrueness of that statement?) Then came a series of directions: Stand there, closer, look there, turn there, smile, take off your glasses, look over my shoulder. The shutter clicks came like an assault weapon: clickclickclickclick — clickclickclick– click–clickclick. But I didn’t feel under attack. I felt really good. Really confident. Really… “on”. It was a dream of mine, and in 5 minutes it was over.

I am not from DC. I told them unabashedly that no, I was not a hill staffer — far from it. I was a suburbanite who worked for a 100% for-profit publishing company doing straight-up marketing. “You’re hired!” the photographer said with a snigger. “Thanks!” I said, as I feigned a walk to the door. If only it were that easy. Typically I feel like an outsider in the district, but for once my suburban-different-ness made me stand out in a good way. And I wasn’t apologizing.

I am from DC enough to know that confidence, even when unfounded, gets you pretty damn far in this town.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Not a care in the world « Average Jane pingbacked on 10 years, 3 months ago


  1. * Sam says:

    My roommate just asked what I was doing and I totally just said “I’m reading this model chick’s blog.” You are officially the model chick blogger du jour.

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 3 months ago
  2. * Arjewtino says:

    This reminds me of a passage from A Prayer for Owen Meany where the narrator (really, Irving) illuminates his readers on the very astute fact that only in the U.S. can you truly “belong”. You can be from, say, Argentina, but if you move to the U.S., make your home, and become “American”, you will always BE an American.

    But the narrator, who has lived in Canada for 20 years, says he will never really feel “Canadian”.

    Maybe it’s the same thing with DC. You give it enough time and you become a DC resident, Maryland and Virginia included.

    Well, maybe not Virginia.

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 3 months ago
  3. * carrie m says:

    well said, Jane, as always. So did you make it? After your FANTASTIC lie that you’re good with the cold?! 😉

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 3 months ago
  4. * Robin says:

    Ah, congrats! Hmmm, I’m in tier 1,2, and 3 (born in DC and lived there a few years, and mostly grew up in, and still live in Monkey County, MD, aka, Montgomery County). When I lived in Maine, however, I’d only be a true Mainiac if I’d been born there and always only lived there, adding points for parents and family (at least I got the bonus points). And you’re right — unless you’re visiting elsewhere, it’s DC. Not Washington. Woo-hoo– congrats and do tell if you’re going to be visible in some ad someplace.

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 3 months ago

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