A few suggestions on being a local
Everybody is just dying to get in their two cents worth on the hotly debated, dubiously relevant, socially and hysterically significant danged-if-anybody-knows-the-truth-about-what-qualifies-one-to-be-a-local jabber jabber.
Of course, I am no exception. And I was born in San Francisco. I’ll die jabbering about who is and isn’t a local.
Opinions on local status are as numerous and as dead set as the population itself. Everybody claims their definition of a local is the only right one. Today I would like to settle this grave matter once and for all, before we read each other’s obituaries.
In order to be a true local you must know where the name of this column, Grasshopper Soup, comes from. Devout Lake Tahoe inhabitants (excluding Mackinaw trout and crawdads) know very well that Mark Twain discovered, quite definitively, that Tahoe is the Indian word for grasshopper soup.
Yes, all those other cute little interpretations of Tahoe you’ve heard about, like Lake of the Sky and Lake in High Places are only for show. (Besides, the elevation of Lake Tahoe is never as high as the population). If this is all news to you then you may as well be from Deadwood, unless you are really cute, really nice and never whine. A true local never whines.
An official local will also know the name of the book Mark Twain wrote and the chapter number in which he asserted his findings. E-mail me with the correct answer at email@example.com and I promise I will mention your name in my column along with an embarrassing story about you ” true or not ” complete with personal and impersonal insults, which leads me to the next requirement for true local status, being able to gracefully and cheerfully handle and appreciate scathing insults directed at your person as well as the ability to deliver clever, creative debasing insults at others in a personable, warm-hearted and dignified manner, even if you are an old snoot.
If you claim to be a local because you were born here, I’m sorry, but big deal, that doesn’t count. Anybody can be born somewhere. What’s so special about that? If you gave birth to yourself, now that might be something to brag about, even if you were born in Truckee.
You must own at least five toys to be a local. A beginner local must own a pair of used skis, a $400 vehicle, a hackey sack, a kaleidoscope and a coffee grinder (an old T-shirt and a heavy rock may be substituted as a coffee grinder).
An intermediate local must own a minimum of five pairs of skis (two Nordic), a mountain bike that works, a yo-yo, a snorkel for powder skiing and a four-wheel-drive vehicle with less than 200,000 miles on it.
An advanced local must own a set of golf clubs, a sit-down, 125 hp snow blower, a fully computerized model train set, a piece of the Berlin Wall and a personal robot.
A certified local is above excluding anyone else from being a local. He embraces all mankind as his equal. If you are here you are a local, even if you’ve only been here five minutes. No one can dispute the fact that you are local if you are here, close enough to smell, look like a human being and can stand hearing Ollie Henrikkson brag about how local everybody but himself isn’t.
Nobody has exclusive rights to the Tahoe Basin, of which, I suppose, even Truckee is a part, at least politically and quantum physically if not strictly speaking.
Actually, the ultimate criteria for local status is continued occupancy of a plot in the local cemetery.
Thanks, but I’d just as soon be from Gerlach.
Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, experienced ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived on the North Shore of Tahoe for 25 years (and that about qualifies him to be an old, local snoot).
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