Cheesin’ in CLE

Dear Midwesterners,

I missed you. Hailing from the state that’s round on the ends but high in the middle (Ohio, you goons) comes with its own colloquial oddities and simplicity that I often forget about while studying on the East Coast at Tufts. Going back to Cleveland for the week turned out to be a pleasant reminder of the idiosyncrasies of the Midwest that you just don’t come by in Massachusetts. While I am guilty of frequently recounting not-so-glamorous anecdotes about the “Mistake on the Lake,” the Midwest is actually of bee’s-knees quality. Come on and feel the Illinoise, as Monsieur Sufjan Stevens often recommends.

A modern myth seems to revolve around whether Midwesterners are really as friendly as their reputation champions. I can confidently account that this statement is 100 percent true. One thing I’ve noticed to be especially common on the East Coast is avoiding eye contact with strangers on the sidewalk. Even if you so much as grin at a fellow pedestrian you will most probably receive a heavy dose of side-eye, a couple territorial warning sips from their iced Dunkin’ coffee and probably will be written off as a cheeky lady of the night. But if you smile in, let’s say Indianapolis, chances are this action will be reciprocated. Perhaps this friendly attitude is born out of blissful ignorance when compared to the more jaded personalities that saturate New England. But many successful celebrities from the Midwest have arguably overcome this inherent naïveté. Melissa McCarthy, John C. Reilly, Betty White — Prince was born in Minnesota and still resides there. Undisputedly all rather chill figures. Maybe ignore Eminem — being the real Slim Shady makes you an obvious outlier.

The Midwest also is paramount at producing phenomenal summer activities. The summertime represents much more than another seemingly simple solstice for us. A solace from the tumultuous nature of the other nine months of the year, summer is practically a spiritual movement. While any region that experiences the difficulties of harsh winters will most probably rejoice during its warmer seasons, Midwesterners have everything on the next level. For example, my hometown of Avon, Ohio is the birthplace of Duck Tape. That’s right, the chevron-print tape your roommate’s great-grandbig used to pack her new picture frame? Born right on the shores of Lake Erie, my friends. With this honor bestowed upon our town, the annual summertime Duck Tape Festival is infamous across Northeast Ohio. The accompanying parade is often rather contemptuous, as children expecting candy to be thrown off the floats are met with industrial-sized rolls of packing tape instead. Another treat is the opening of America’s Rocking Roller Coast, the seaside amusement park named Cedar Point. This classic amusement park isn’t some Disneyland microcosm with little boogers roaming around with those medieval turkey legs. Cedar Point is almost inexplicable in its nature, as it seamlessly combines Midwestern hospitality with an alarming amount of sidewalk vomit. Bring your hoses, ladies and gents.

The act of simply driving over spring break was something I noticed I severely missed as well from the Midwest. The labyrinth of roundabouts and one-ways in Boston and the rest of New England pales in comparison to the grid system of newer Midwest cities. The friendliness aspect yet again applies, as driving at home does not cause high blood pressure like in Boston. Letting someone merge is not a myth people; it exists in the magical Midwest.

Turn up for tornadoes,