Monday, April 07, 2008

My Search for Oregon

My breakfast eating habits have changed significantly since Texan Jon Wolf bought a Frosted Flake shaped like Illinois for $1350 on eBay.

News trivia like this usually becomes part of my ever-expanding, useless unconscious. This story, however, sticks with me, partly because I’m an Illinois native (Rockford, if you must know) but mostly because I eat Wheaties, which often bear an uncanny resemblance to states of the union and carpet stains.

Prior to the Wolf/Illinois/flake story, I alternated between Cheerios and Wheaties for breakfast. But whoever heard of a Cheerios shaped like anything other than a miniature inner tube or dwarf donut or a, well, a Cheerio?

Now post John Wolf, I partake mostly of Wheaties, and slowly, with great deliberation.

The other morning, for instance, I caught a glimpse of what promised to be Texas peeking out of my Wheaties heap. “Bingo!” I thought as I extracted it only to find that what I thought would be the panhandle of the Lone Star state turned out to look like the large freckle on the top of my right hand. These things happen with age, brown spots that is, not Texas near-misses.

States with panhandles (Idaho, Florida and Oklahoma, for example) are unlikely to show up in my cereal bowl. Others are also problematic. Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, for instance, wouldn’t survive being jostled around in a Wheaties box. Alaska’s Aleutian chain would be impossible. And Michigan, of course, would have be in two pieces. The Olympic Peninsula is Washington’s undoing.

Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada have too many straight edges, er, I mean borders.

The narrowness of Tennessee, California and Kentucky make them unlikely, flake-wise. (And let’s have no California flake quips here. This is serious business.)

I do keep a sharp eye out for the most likely candidates: Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, Indiana, Wisconsin, Colorado and both Dakotas. Wyoming probably should be on the list but every time I think I have spotted a Wyoming I am reminded of Dick Cheney and no price on eBay is worth that.

Right up there at the top of my flake-state search is our beloved Oregon. The only problem with finding an Oregon flake is that I would want to keep it and probably travel around the state showing it off. “Hey, lookee here! See what I found!” I’d exclaim on the streets of Boring, Bandon, Burns and Bend.

Knowing Oregonians, they would indulge me. They’d say nice stuff like “Oh, yeah, that’s really interesting,” or “That’s swell. Have a nice day,” or “Cool.”

But one thing I wouldn’t want to say here in my adopted home state is: “Hey, anybody want to buy this Wheaties flake shaped like Oregon for $1,350?”

Oregonians are too practical to buy Oregon-shaped flakes. If they saw one, they might just eat it. That’s one of the reasons I like the place so much.

Finding Oregon in my breakfast cereal also reminds me that, no matter where, when or how I discover it, this place is priceless.

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Blogger GinaK said...

This is a brilliant post.

I'd love to hear your commentary on regional cultural differences in the US--to expand on your statement of "knowing Oregonians, they would indulge me."

8:46 PM  

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