I'm quoting only a small piece of the essay here, which is very funny and very insightful in the way only Roy Blount can be. (I loved the Michael Dukakis / John Edwards story near the end). Blount tends to use the stereotypes to his advantage, sorta like Mark Twain (yeah, I'm sure I'm not saying anything particularly original there -- every humorist who uses a folksy delivery probably gets that one). Anyway, he writes about when he was young:
Here’s what happened when I moved to New York. I hadn’t unpacked my bag before people started telling me, “You’re not from around here.” Didn’t I know that? “I see you haven’t lost the accent,” they would say severely, as if I were willfully convicting myself of narrow-mindedness with every syllable I uttered.
That was awkward, but interesting. As a white Southerner I had come to terms, on my own recognizance, with being a (heartily) recovering Mr. Charlie. It kind of tickled me, as we say back home, to suddenly be an object of prejudice. Since I couldn’t see that it would keep me from doing anything I really wanted to do, it even gave me a kind of edge. Years ago at a New York cocktail party I was chatting with George “Jerry” Goodman, who wrote and spoke trenchantly about money matters under the name of Adam Smith. Nice guy. Evidently I said something that struck him as halfway cogent (so it couldn’t have been about money), because he gave me a sincerely startled look and said, “You’re not so dumb.” I have to admit, I was surprised. Not so much by his surprise as by how unselfconsciously he expressed it. He seemed to have been caught more off guard than I was, so I was able to think to myself, “You’re not so broad-minded."
I'm just sayin'...