Over the summer, I noticed many people looking adrift and rather confused. No, I am not talking about my husband, my friends or even my forgetful self. I am talking about people who were visiting Rochester.
Not to brag, but I possess visitor radar. In the same astute way I can spot someone from afar who just so happen to have a bee lodged in their underpants, I can detect a visitor a mile away, especially visitors my age — a ripe age which falls into the seasoned category “no longer a spring chicken.”
What were all those visitors adrift and confused about? I’m guessing they were wondering how to fit in during their brief stay here. How, they probably said to themselves while flossing their incisors, can we get more out of our stay? How, they no doubt pondered with gravitas, can we hang with the locals?
I’ll tell you how. Having lived most of my life here, I know what it takes to be a true Rochesterian. Let’s begin.
Wear somber colors. It’s not that we don’t appreciate bright attire, it’s just that we don’t feel comfortable wearing clothes that scream, “Here I am!” Unlike other areas of the country where folks are surrounded by shocking pink flamingos, brilliant blue skies and fried green tomatoes, we are met with drab brown wrens, grim gray skies and fried beige grass. In other words, a restrained color palette. Consequently, we feel most comfortable in clothing that says, “I am ready for a funeral at a moment’s notice.”
Order chicken French. While our fine city didn’t invent this popular dish of lightly battered and sauteed chicken cutlets in a white wine, butter and lemon sauce, we most certainly perfected it. So order away and, while you’re at it, don’t forget to finish up with Abbott’s frozen custard.
Express a passionate interest in the ever-changing Rochester weather. Yes, yes, we all like to talk about weather, especially us old boilers. But no city seems to latch on to this scintillating topic the way we do. That said, bone up on terms like nor’easter, polar vortex and black ice, so you can toss them around with aplomb. Feel free to consult your weather app at any time, baptisms included. And be sure to complain ad nauseam if the weather turns foul. It’s our favorite pastime!
Sympathize about all the dying ash trees. In past years, I would have instructed you to talk about potholes and leaf blowers. But lately, and for good reason, all we’re talking about now is the steady demise of this beloved tree. So, lend an ear … but just an ear. Show too much interest and you may be enlisted to help take them down.
Don shorts and sandals in chilly winter. Every city has its quirks, and ours is walking around in shorts and sandals when it’s only 35 degrees out — a veritable heat wave. Listen, after being swaddled in polar fleece for months on end, we simply can’t help ourselves when the temps soar a few degrees above freezing.
So, there you have it, simple ways to make the most of your visit to our fine city. Oh, one last thing: No bragging if you hail from a sunny, warm, dry area. Do that and we may pummel you with some homegrown apples.
Anne Palumbo writes this column for Messenger Post newspapers. Her email is avpalumbo@aol.com.