For those of you who are unfamiliar with the California culture wars, there is a longstanding snobbish point of view held by some Northern Californians toward we who live in Southern California. Here’s a 2004 article written by Megan H. Chin for USC's Daily Trojan about this subject. She credits Will Rogers with saying, "children in San Francisco are taught two things: love the Lord and hate Los Angeles."
Southern California is summer, Northern California spring. We're cerebral, you're celeb. We're the birthplace of Jerry Garcia, the microprocessor, Genentech, Ghirardelli chocolate and the world's biggest garlic festival. You spawned O.J., boob jobs and the Valley.
So, how do we SoCalers feel about them? We know Bay folk bristle if you refer to San Francisco as “Frisco,” but beyond that we don’t spend much time thinking about them at all.
I’m aware of this North-versus-South prejudice but I’ve personally not heard it expressed for ages—until a couple of weeks ago when we had as our guest a woman from Berkeley whom I had never met. We invited her to accompany us to an event during which we paid for all expenses associated with the trip, except for her transportation to and from Los Angeles.
She began to irritate me early on with her, “I will never, never, NEVER color my hair.” Okay, fine. Don’t color your hair. I have absolutely no problem with a look like this. That’s the wonderful thing about the women’s movement. We are free to do anything we damn well please, preferably without condemnation from our sisters.
She had a number of other annoying traits (I am the most awesome person on the planet. Don’t you agree? Huh? Huh? Huh?) that I ignored for the sake of harmony. Then she started in on her version of LA people are vacuous, plastic surgery-obsessed, cultureless and inappropriately dressed Neanderthals. As we say in fiction, the conflict was rising. I overlooked the insult once but when she repeated it again a short time later, I called her on it.
“You know,” I said, “I’m getting a little weary of your Northern California fantasy that somehow you are better than the rest of us. It’s so yesterday.”
“Well,” she blustered. “I didn’t mean to offend you.”
But see, I think she did mean to offend me and even more galling was that she offended me while accepting my hospitality.
When I was in business school, I read the book How to Deal with Difficult People by Ursula Markham. I don’t remember anything about it, which is why I’m not very good at it. There was probably a better way to have handled this situation. What would you have done?