GUIDELINES FOR UNDERSTANDING THE HOOSIER CULTURE
submitted by Marion Hoffman
For those of you who are Hoosiers, this is so accurate it hurts. Really. To those of you who are displaced Hoosiers, you may get homesick.
Know the state casserole.
The state casserole consists of canned green beans, Campbells cream of mushroom soup, and dried onions. You can safely take this casserole to any social event and know that you will be accepted.
Get used to food festivals.
The Indiana General Assembly, in an effort to grow bigger athletes, passed legislation years ago requiring every incorporated community to have at least one festival per year dedicated to a high-fat food. It is your duty as a Hoosier to attend these festivals and buy at least one elephant ear.
Know the geography.
Of Florida, that is. There are Hoosiers who couldn’t tell you where Evansville is, but they know the exact distance from Fort Myers to Bonita Springs. That’s because all Hoosiers go to Florida in the winter. Or plan to when they retire. Or are related to retired Hoosiers who have a place in Sarasota. Hoosiers consider Florida to be the Lower Peninsula of Indiana.
If you cant afford to spend the winter in Florida, use the state excuse ... which is that you stay here because you enjoy the change of season. You’ll be lying, but that’s OK. We’ve all done it.
Speaking of Indiana weather, wear layers or die. The thing to remember about Indiana seasons is that they can occur at anytime. We have spring-like days in January and wintry weekends in October. April is capable of providing a sampling of all four seasons in a single 24-hour period.
For these reasons, Indiana is the Layering Capital of the World. Even layering, however, can pose danger. Golfers have been known to dress for hypothermia and endup dead of heat stroke because they couldn’t strip off their layers of plaid fast enough on a changeable spring morning.
Don’t take Indiana place names literally.
If a town has the same name as a foreign city, Valparaiso and Versailles, for example you must not pronounce them the way the foreigners do, lest you come under suspicion as a spy. Also, East Enterprise has no counterpart on the west side of the state. South Bend is in the north. North Vernon is in the south and French Lick isn’t what you think either.
Become mulch literate.
Hoosiers love mulch and appreciate its subtle differences. Learn the difference between hardwood, cypress and pine bark at a minimum.
Researchers think the state affinity for mulch derives from its relatively flat terrain. People have a subconscious need for topography, and when it can’t be supplied naturally, they are more likely to make little mulch hillocks in their front yards.
You gotta know sports.
In order to talk sports with obsessive fans in Indiana, you have to be knowledgeable on the three levels professional, college and high school.
The truly expert Indiana sports fan knows not only the name of the hotshot center at Abercrombie and Fitch High School, but also what colleges he’s interested in, how much he bench-presses, who he took to the prom, and what he got on his biology quiz last week.
Remember that Hoosiers are never the first to embrace trends.
When they do embrace them, they do so with a Midwestern pragmatism. For example, if you see a Hoosier with a nose ring, there’s a good chance he’s had it undercoated to guard against rust.
The best way to sell something in Indiana is to attach the term “Amish” to it.
The product need not be genuinely Amish. This would explain the existence of Amish moo shu pork.
YOU KNOW YOURE FROM INDIANA WHEN:
You think the state Bird is Larry.
You can say French Lick without laughing out loud.
There’s actually a college near you named Ball State.
You know Batesville is the casket-making capital of the world and you’re proud of it.
You could never figure out spring forward-fall back, so screw Daylight Savings Time!
Your feelings get hurt whenever someone points out the acronym for Purdue University is PU.
You know several people who have hit a deer.
Down south to you means Kentucky.
You have no problem spelling or pronouncing Terre Haute.
Your school classes were canceled because of cold.
Your school classes were canceled because of heat.
You know what the phrase knee-high by the Fourth of July means.
You’ve heard of Euchre, you know how to play Euchre, and you are a master of Euchre.
You’ve seen a running car, with nobody in it, in the parking lot of the grocery store, no matter what time of year it is.
Detassling was your first job.
Bailing hay, your second.
Or you could stack hay, swim in the pond to clean off and then have the strength to play a couple of games of hoops, all in the same barn lot on the same day.
You say things like catty-wampus and katty corner and know what they mean.
You install security lights on your house and garage, then leave them both unlocked.
You carry jumper cables in your car regularly.
You drink pop.
You catch frogs at the crick.
If you want someone to hear you, you holler at ‘em.
You know that baling wire was the predecessor to duct tape.
You know that strangers are the only ones who come to your front door.
Kids and dogs ride in the passenger seats of cars and the backs of pickups.
You think nothing of driving on the roads and being stuck behind a farm implement in spring and fall. You just hope its not a hog truck or a manure spreader.
High school basketball games draw bigger crowds on the weekend than movie theaters, IF you have a movie theater.
Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow
The local paper covers national and international headlines on one page but requires six for local sports.
You can repeat the scores of the last eight NBA games, but unless the MVP is a Hoosier, you are not sure who he is.
You can see at least two basketball hoops from your yard.
You can name every one of Bobby Knights exploits over the last few years.
The biggest question of your youth was IU or Purdue.
Indianapolis is the BIG CITY.
Getting stuck by a train is a legitimate excuse for being late to school or work.
Everyone knows who the town cops are, where they live, and whether they’re at home or on duty.
You’ve been to the Covered Bridge Festival. And you took back roads to get there. Why sit in traffic?
To you, tenderloin is not an expensive cut of beef, but a big, salty, breaded, & fried piece of pork served on a bun with pickle.
You end your sentences with prepositions, as in Wheres it at? or Wheres he going to?
If you are a Hoosier or have Hoosier roots you will have read this and found everything to be perfectly normal. In fact, isn’t that the way it is everywhere?
Written year 2003
Edith Hoffman, Author
U S Legacies Magazine 2003