This land may have been made for you and me, but LET’S BE HONEST FOR A SECOND, if a zombie apocalypse happened tomorrow, I’d be sticking with my peeps, because regional pride is real. Regional pride is what binds us together. Where you grew up has a real bearing on how wimpy you are about putting on a sweater in only somewhat cold weather, how useless you are in humidity, how good you are at skinning rabbits and whatnot. (TRUTH: Do not know how to skin a rabbit.) So what would the U.S. look like if it were a lunch room, with each region taking its own table in the cafeteria? Would anyone talk to the Michigan Upper Peninsula table? Find out where you would sit in the united lunch tables of America.
The Rust Belt Ruffians
This is the lunch table that terrifies even the most hardened lunch lady, located at the center of the cafeteria. The Rust Belt used to be the center of American manufacturing, and the Ruffians will not stop reminding you that they “build things.” The Rust Belt covers Western New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Michigan, where companies like US Steel employed thousands to make tall city buildings for Batman to lurk over. The Ruffians will use anything they made in woodshop to physically intimidate you, up to and including birdhouses. To the naked eye, they may seem like they don’t care, but they’ll outwork anyone. They’ll pull an all-nighter on the spring play’s set design before you’ve had a chance to master that jazz square for the opening number. They may not write you a heartfelt note for your birthday about what an amazing friend you are, but they will fix your bike because you can’t even true a wheel, can you? They want things to work, and for god’s sake, they want to create and help people! Though these ruffians have a hard exterior, if you can name just one metal band, you will have their undying devotion as long as you inhabit this world.
The Southwest Chillaxers
Careful with this group. They seem open, accepting, and interested in your sculpture project for art class, but they have a dangerous side. The Southwest includes West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California. The U.S. got all this land from Mexico, and proceeded to up the weird factor. If you like burritos and turquoise, you may want to move to the Chillaxer table yourself. After all, most Chillaxers used to be from other parts of the country, and fled because they were running away from lunch tables past, or just found a great deal on a condo in downtown Phoenix. Regardless, Chillaxers don’t care about your approval, they just want to see everyone express and enjoy themselves. If you don’t like that, keep walkin’.
The Western Rangers
These guys like to spread out, because they’re used to a lot of land, so don’t crowd them in the lunch room. You’ll recognize them as the ones whittling sticks, playing harmonica, and branding cattle while chowing down on their burgers by the cafeteria horizon. They are also the group mostly likely to protest that fact that you’re not allowed to take your lunch trays outside.
East Coast Boasters
It’s the table everyone loves to hate. The East Coast Boasters are always trying to live large and be in charge. From Boston to Miami, the East Coast is full of wealth and influence, where American industry started and flourished into a global force, and the Boasters won’t let you forget it. They aren’t even that popular, yet they run the show because they can’t control their blind ambition. The Boasters may not be the most polite batch, but they believe in opportunity and taking what’s yours. They’ll compliment your hair to your face, and then rip it to shreds on their “United States of Lunch” fashion blog. Why? It’s not personal, it’s just how the Boasters roll. They probably actually did like your hair. Should you avoid this table at all costs? You could, but let’s be honest, the Boasters table is exciting, there’s never an empty chair, and if you have big ideas, they’ll organize a school-wide charity fundraiser and give you a Cafeteria Lifetime Achievement Award. On top of that, it can feel good sometimes to know that if you can find it in you to love these people, you can get along anywhere.
The Deep South Schmoozers
The Southern end of the cafeteria is a fascinating place to get lost in, and at the heart of it are the Deep South Schmoozers. The Deep South includes Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Eastern Texas, home to some of the quirkiest, hospitable, and genuinely weird lunchers on the planet. They’re not even the weird table. They’re not trying to be weird, they don’t have to dye their dreadlocks pink to prove anything. The Schmoozers know how to tell some of the most off-putting, tragic stories, and make them funny by peppering them with colorful idioms that no one understands, like “better’n to be a hair on a hare than a brick in a lumber yard.” They’re proud to the core of their table, and throw a lunch-time parade like NOBODY’S BUSINESS. Really, one minute you’re enjoying some black-eyed peas, and the next you’ve got a horn section escorting you down the hall to the bathroom. In a crisis, the Schmoozers will have your back, no questions asked.
The Pacific Northwest Pouncers
The Pacific Northwest table is almost always empty, because they’re always out kayaking, windsurfing, or pursuing some other “adventure sport.” The region consists of pretty much just Washington State and Oregon, and warning: the people who lunch here are really into it. Picture the East Coast Boasters without all the competition and desperation. Unlike the East Coast, the Pouncers have unfettered access to the beautiful, temperate evergreen forests, and it’s just beautiful everywhere, blah blah blah. Don’t even bother making friends with the Pouncers because they’re always out mountain biking and stuff, so if you want to get in with the Pouncers, it’s going to be in extra-curricular activities that involve eating Clif bars. The good news is that Pouncers make great friends because they know how to tie good knots, they’re CRAZY SERIOUS about coffee, and they’re experts with a tourniquet if you ever lose a leg climbing a mountain.
The Hawaiian Punchers
This name is ironic, because the Punchers are in fact the last people to get riled up about anything. They’re too busy slipping pineapple onto their burgers and walking barefoot around the athletics field to seek out confrontation. They’re so chill, in fact, that it’s hard to know if you’re besties with one of them, or if that “aloha” is mere politeness. The Punchers typically sit perched on top of the lunch table at the very back of the room by the windows with ukuleles in hand, braiding each other’s hair and passing around SPF.
The Ice Road Truckers
There is only one Alaskan at this table, and they’re super nice, actually, and you should see their uncle’s ranch sometime.
There are so many more regions and cross-sections of the United States. What other tables should be in the United States of Lunch??
Images: Mean Girls still via Paramount/SNL; Clueless still via Paramount; Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion still via Touchstone Pictures; Adventureland still via Miramax; Breakfast Club still via A&M Films/Channel Productions; Smallville still via The WB.