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Maybe I'm A-Mazed

Learning the ways of the mid-West

By Judey Kalchik Published 11 days ago Updated 11 days ago 4 min read

It’s been almost 20 years, but I am still a transplant. I moved 286.7 miles farther away from the East Coast and found out, to my shock, that I was now a Mid-Westerner.

Once a comfortable Pittsburgher I never thought a short move to Ann Arbor would re-categorize me in the eyes of others. I was told I had an east coast accent! Talked too fast, y’know, like they do in New York City.

When I didn’t greet my coworkers in the hall with a bright and chipper ‘Good afternoon’ on the occasion of the twentieth time we had passed each other, it was tolerantly explained away as ‘not from the mid-west’.

(Well; no, c’mon. It’s just too much! I JUST saw you not three minutes ago on the way to the copier! We sit right next to each other all day.)

When I was kindly told that the reason Don didn’t answer me is because he thought I was talking to Dawn (evidently these names are not pronounced the same in this land), I decided I had to adapt.

I sought out Verners ginger ale. (It was once properly spelled with an apostrophe-s ) It’s OK, but I miss my Tom Tucker Mint Ginger Ale.

I ate a pastrami sandwich from Zingerman’s. It was delicious, but way too expensive for more than a very very very far-between once in a while. (For the record: I do NOT miss Pittsburgh’s guilty obsession with Chipped ham. Ugh. Slimy-slippy meat that is only bearable when heated with ketchup [Heinz; natch] for barbeque sammiches.)

I’ve traveled Up North to see Ste Sault Marie’s locks and large boats. And although it is properly majestic with THAT bridge and ships… I think the many many bridges of downtown Pittsburgh and the muddy brown river mixing with the blue green waters merging at the Point are always going to stir me more.

But the point is: I’ve tried. And grown to love living here. (Even though I still pronounce ‘fool’ to rhyme with ‘full’ and ‘pull’ of course always sounds like ‘pool’. As you do.)

I root for U of M (Go Blue!) because I live in Ann Arbor.

  • And my husband graduated from there.
  • And he now works there.
  • And so do many other people that I know and love.
  • And because it’s hard to root for pro football, because the Lions.
  • And because I had the Steelers of the late 70’s.

The one thing I just can’t understand is the obsession around here with corn mazes.

A corn maze is something the mid-west uses to take money from overly boisterous and naïve neighbors and tourists.

Fees are forked over for the chance to walk deep into a field that is dusty and/or muddy, filled with twisty paths created by corn stalks.

There is one way in and another out. You can’t see through the stalks. You can’t avoid the critters and bugs that eat the corn. Can’t panic and push out through the sides. It’s either hot and itchy or cold and mucky. Etiquette demands that you must act all surprised when people double-back and frighten the daylights out of you.

Families usher their children into the thick of it just as if they've never read a Stephen King book in their lives!

Once/If you make it out in one piece, and if you are lucky, you can buy over-priced cold cider to wash the grit from your mouth from the handy road stand. You PAY even MORE if you get the deluxe package that includes a ride in a wagon that rumbles over ruts… and has no shocks.

I may learn to distinguish full from fool.. but that much of a fool I am not. I am a-mazed.


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About the Creator

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, memories, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

And please follow me on Threads, too!

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Comments (10)

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  • ThatWriterWoman5 days ago

    This is a brilliant glimpse into a world I didn't know of before - thanks Judey!

  • Enjoyed this thoroughly, even though corn "maize"s are a fun outing imho. I grew up in NE South Dakota (Watertown), traveled with three of my brothers singing gospel music across the contiguous states & southern provinces (north in the winter--they know how to heat a church sanctuary; south in the summer--they know how to cool one). And now live in Courtland, Kansas. I miss winter. We haven't had a decent snow in years down here.

  • Jay Kantor11 days ago

    Mrs. j - Ah, once when a 'Sandwich' cost less than a day's pay. Betcha the Pitts-Penns PickedUp on your accent/'tude in a N/Y minute. Speaking of sticking out - I was once working on a project with a firm in 'Mennonite eastern Ohio. As a little Jewish boy I was constantly greeted with a curious "Why don't you Know Him?" - Once a fan always a N/Y sports team fan; dem-bums -

  • J. Delaney-Howe11 days ago

    Never been in a corn maze. I dislike cornfields, so heading into the middle of one is not my idea of fun.

  • Very cool! I’ve done corn maizes they’re funny/fun to do once or twice lol. We have Verners here lol. And that’s funny how you always have to greet everyone!

  • Alexis Dean Jr.11 days ago

    I’m from Wisconsin and now live in Michigan too! Moving to the south next year, but I’m pretty sure I’ll always love the Midwest the most (and corn mazes 😅)

  • KJ Aartila11 days ago

    Born and raised upper Wisconsonite here - and have never entered a corn maze on purpose - I did get lost in a cornfield once and that was quite enough! Plus, having watched my share of the "Children of the Corn" movies, my desire just isn't in a corn maze. Funny story, though - I did live in Nebraska for a summer and worked at a gym - the owner called (he lived there, too) and asked for his mom, Dawn (who I also knew) but I thought he was saying "Don" so I kept saying "No" - he finally was like "Keila! This is Jay! Is my Mom there!" -- Me: "Oh! Just a minute." LoL!

  • Thank you for the chuckles!! I really appreciate you! 😊💕🤣😂 The corn doesn't have mazes in my neighborhood, but it does get sprayed with roundup at least twice a crop. That is not so funny. I have a husband that is a ranger, born on the iron range. I will never have that distinction no matter how long I live here as I was born in the city! 😊💕

  • Donna Renee11 days ago

    I’ve moved a bit from where I grew up but not far enough to really change that much… except that we have corn mazes here where I am now and I also do not understand the appeal at all 🤣. Corn is for eating 😋😋

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