Yo mama’s so ugly they filmed “Gorillas in the Mist” in her shower.
Back when I was a kid, the “Yo mama” insults were an invitation to scrap. As with most things, most of us eventually grew out of this phase to become productive members of society.
But those insults stung. It’s your mama. You’d do anything to defend her. You’re proud of your mama.
I recently learned that there are other things I’m willing to defend like my mama when a friend in Austin posted to Facebook that she was planning a trip to Charlotte. She asked her braintrust what the top five things were to do here.
I thought about it. I wasn’t sure. But I was curious to see my friend so I posted, “You’re coming out this way?”
The rest of the day I got pinged whenever anyone added to her thread. The first guy said, “1. See Jim. 2-5 Leave.”
Soon after, another guy said, “1-5 leave.”
Then one after another insults to Charlotte piled up in the thread. One person said that Charlotte literally stinks. That when he was here “the paper mills were billowing smoke all over the city” and that he was grateful when his event started at TWC Arena so he could “escape the stench.”
At this point I had to say something. I couldn’t sit by watching my town get ripped.
Let me back up for a second. In 1999, while my wife and I were living in Jacksonville, Fla., I received an offer to come to Charlotte for work. I’d received offers from agencies in New York City and Richmond, but there was something about Charlotte that attracted us. It was a sparkling city with a certain momentum you could feel in its people. We moved into our apartment here on January 1, 2000—literally at the turn of the millennium. Talk about new leaves.
My wife is from the Philadelphia area, in NJ, and I was raised in north Florida. However, unlike my wife, I led a more transient life, taking up residence in a dozen places across America, including big cities like Houston, New York and others. Charlotte was unlike any place I’d seen.
There was opportunity here to make a difference in a town in transition. During my interview process, I was told that all you had to do to help shape the future of Charlotte was have a desire to get involved. Boy were they right.
We bought a house, had a child, and rolled up our sleeves and got busy. This city has changed so much since we moved here that I routinely walk around in awe. No, neither of us are native Charlotteans, but our daughters are, and so I figure I’m as much a part of this town as anyone. Plus, I’ve never lived anywhere as long as I’ve lived here.
This is my town. And I’m not going to let some punks from other places put us down, by God.
So I found myself defending each of the negative remarks about Charlotte on my friend’s timeline. One person in Texas who professed to being a Charlotte expert even went so far as to tell my friend not to listen to me because “my parents are from Charlotte and we used to go there every summer. I think I know what I’m talking about.” To which I responded, “And I LIVE here. What is this, third grade?”
Only, I couldn’t think of five things for her to do to enjoy a visit.
I could have listed our great restaurants. I could have mentioned our museums and theater scene. I could have talked about a great AAA baseball stadium or our amazing parks. I could have mentioned the Raptor Center or Whitewater Center.
Because I live here, I live here. I don’t know what the hell anyone from out of town might do here that they couldn’t do in any other city in America. Plus, I was too busy defending my town from people who didn’t live here.
Visitors to Charlotte will never know the diverse fabric of our neighborhoods. They will not appreciate our lush canopy. They won’t spend hours at the “fish park” (The Green) with their kids on hot summer days and getting a slice from Fuel Pizza afterward.
And they will never understand how the people who live here, whether natives or not, pull together to help continue to shape a city that I’m proud to call home.
Suddenly all the chatter on her thread stopped. I was grateful.