The Challenge of Being Considered a Charlottean

While I’ve been expecting to articulate this particular message SOMEWHERE for quite a while, a recent and terrific 35th reunion of my Brockport (NY) sophomore floor compatriots seems a legitimate background.

What many people in Charlotte still can’t 100% understand, or more accurately *allow*, is for people from ‘elsewhere’ to consider themselves Charlotteans no matter how long they’ve resided here. I’ve lived here since Memorial Day 1995; brother Mike arrived from Tampa in 1987. My brother Steven came from Pittsburgh in 1985 and became an essential part of a NCNB banking cadre that launched a good regional bank into the major, major leagues of banking (NationsBank, BOA). He married a local girl (and okay, Meredith is from Gastonia, which still gets looked down on by ‘real’ Charlotte natives) and they had three sons–Paul (Steven, Jr.), a Morehead-Cain scholar at Carolina and now a Rhodes scholar; Ian, who just finished his second year at Clemson, and Ryan, who will shortly enter Myers Park as a freshman.

A couple Christmas’ ago Ian asked how long I felt one had to live here to become a Charlottean, and knowing his prejudices about that, I hedged and said after maybe 6-7 years I pretty much considered myself an ex-Yankee. He listened to both Steve’s and my explanations, then simply said, “We always consider you Yankees,” and THAT is the nut issue.

I stayed at my brother Dave’s house two exits from the Saratoga Racetrack where my long-ago friends and I enjoyed a day together (I finished up $100+ and was responsible for others making a couple worthwhile bets too, thank you very much), but we didn’t consider ourselves Saratogians–that would be silly. Neither I or almost twenty others still call themselves Brockporters either; some of us graduated from B-port, some left after 1977, but we pretty much took it for granted we were “just there for a while.” Celebrating ‘the good old days’ included Steve Kasonofsky’s birthday, but everyone eventually returned safely to the homes they’ve created elsewhere; Kaz and Faith to three veterinarian hospitals In NYC, the Reagans to Conneticut, the Piraccis to Chapel Hill, ‘McDennis’ to Nashville, and me to Charlotte, 765 miles from the city of Schenectady where I was born and lived until 1981-83 (in Tampa) and again from ’83 until moving to Charlotte. 

I’m DEFINITELY not one of those people who whines about not having any really good thin-crust pizza joints here, or that the bagels are barely more than stiffer bread, the brats aren’t anywhere near Chicago quality and there’s “no culture” because a museum or theater isn’t planted on every other corner (that’s were most of the 900 churches are). I’m laissez-faire about what pro football team anyone wants to cheer for. I watched regional double-headers of bad Jets and Giants teams so long I continue hating them despite the Giants winning two Super Bowls, although I also believe Giants dads pass a particular addiction to each new generation. I went to Clemson for a Panthers game Year One, Steve has two PSLs, and we’re all obviously THRILLED that Cam Newton brought back respectability from his very first game. Lots of people, from Charlotte or elsewhere, aren’t fond of the Bobcats because they’re not the Hornets of yore (or because as watchers of ACC ball they actually know what good hoops is supposed to look like), but thats okay too.

My baseline philosophy on CHARLOTTEANS used to center on fact/opinion that if Those Real Natives could’ve shipped Yankees/Others (and that’s 85% of the population) back AND remained as important as this city’s financial industry had allowed it to become by 2007-08, they would’ve taken that deal no problem. On the other hand (work with me…), about 1.7 million young Latinos showed up at centers across the country with as much documentation as possible to prove they’d lived in the USA in a manner that deserved their inclusion in idea of ‘Americans’, or at the very least, a two year exemption from the threat of deportation. That constitutes a huge leap of faith on their part, and being considered a Charlottean (no threat or desire on TNR front), grits-eater or not, shouldn’t rely on anything except Home being where the heart is. Like my Brockport State reunion buddies, fondly remembering where or when about something doesn’t change the fact that you can be something without being born one.

Oh, FYI–Goodlettsville, TN beat Petaluma, CA in the greatest Little League game EVER this afternoon. Down 15-5 going into the bottom of the sixth, Petaluma scored **10** to send the game to extra innings, after which G-ville scored nine more and won 24-17. Having used up all five front line and secondary pitchers to survive as American champs, I hope people won’t be disappointed if the guys lose to a strong team from Japan.  Just something worth noting.

Glenn S.