It seems like every state has its "outlier outpost," the place about which everyone says, "Only in [fill in name of town here]."
In Colorado, this was always Boulder. Everyone who didn't live in Boulder would hear of something happening there--and it could be anything from a bid to legalize pot to protesters trying to protect prairie dogs--and would shake their heads and say "Only in Boulder."
When we moved to West Virginia from Colorado, someone told us that Morgantown was the "Boulder of West Virginia." Now, having spent quite a bit of time in Boulder, we had serious reservations about this claim.
Morgantown is no Boulder. There's only one microbrewery, and it's not that good, and while the mountains here are beautiful, they're not quite as sublime as the Flatirons, and the people aren't nearly as fit and happy as Boulderites. Plus, while Morgantown may lean considerably further left than much of the state, it can in no way shape or form be considered a liberal outpost/hippie enclave in the way that Boulder can. Sure, we have a head shop, but so does every college town (even Greeley did, for chrissakes).
Still, it's crucial to remember the second part of that statement: that Morgantown is the Boulder of West Virginia. And therein lies the rub.
Now, I'm not entirely sure what it means to people in other parts of the state when they say "Only in Morgantown." Most likely it's a critique of the ways in which the city is detached from the reality of the rest of the state, since it's a place where unemployment is low, property values are high, and good jobs mean more than work in the mining industry. Last year, Morgantown got a lot of buzz for appearing to be recession-proof.
And it may also have to do with the youthful, party-oriented nature of the town, fueled by the 30,000 students who call it home for nine months out of the year.
For me, though, it has to do with a series of seeming contradictions that nevertheless seem to coexist peacefully, even productively. So, with this post, we're inaugurating what we hope will become a recurring feature here at Romantoes, spotlighting some of the things that make us say "Only in Morgantown."
Today's case in point? The very existence of this store, which is on a well-traveled route leading from Morgantown to Point Marion, Pennsylvania. Since deer-hunting season started on Monday, this seems like an especially good example to start with.
Rumor has it that one of the main reasons the university closes for the whole week of Thanksgiving is because deer hunting traditionally begins on the fourth Monday of November. Local high-school teachers tell me that they don't plan anything major for the Monday and Tuesday of this week when school is still in session because so many students will be out hunting. Hell, even my endodontist told me that he was taking a day off this week just to go "be in the woods" with his buddies, even though he himself doesn't hunt.
Guns and butter, I've heard of. But guns and ice cream? That's pure Morgantown.