1. “Oregon? Where’s that?”
To the Spanish man on the train, the Thai guesthouse owner, and the friendly Australian I met in a New York City bar who thought Oregon was a province in Canada, the answer remains the same: It’s the state right above California.
2. “Seattle’s the capital, right?”
Whether you mean it as a subtle dig at our “sibling rivalry” with Washington, or you’re just misinformed, Seattle is neither the capital of Oregon or Washington. After all, who needs Seattle when you have Salem.
3. “Isn’t that where a bunch of hipsters live?”
Seeing how the meaning of the term “hipster” is now so broad it could include nine tenths of the millennial population it is not out of the question to conclude there are quite a few hipsters here. Though, like generations of young people before them, they tend to congregate in large metropolitan areas, and because Oregon’s only major metropolitan area is Portland, that’s where they go. Once you leave the valley you might just find people doing regular things without irony.
4. “I couldn’t live in all that rain.”
Oh? Yes, the rain. It’s terrible. You’d hate it.
5. “I loved the Oregon Trail game!”
While our state generally stays under the radar, a 1971 smash hit called The Oregon Trail made making your way to the Willamette Valley the goal of 2nd graders everywhere. Oregon was finally on the map, and kids learned the realities of 19th century pioneer life. Not just the tragic realization that killing a bison immediately before having to ford a river meant leaving most of the meat behind, but also the likelihood that one would inevitably die from dysentery.
6. “Wasn’t The Goonies filmed there?”
You’re not going to find that certain kind of moody coastal gloom just anywhere. And if The Goonies wasn’t good enough for you, Astoria is also where the 1990 box office hit Kindergarten Cop was filmed. It’s basically the Hollywood of the North.
7. “What do you guys do, log trees all day?”
Well, not anymore. After we ran out of trees we switched to cultivating ghost towns, hunting for sasquatch, and shooting holes in road signs from our trucks.
8. “Oh, all the Oregonians I meet are so nice!”
Good! Once again, our polite passivity is being properly misinterpreted as “nice.”
9. “Isn’t that where a bunch of white guys were involved in a month-long armed standoff after the takeover of a federal building?”
That’s us! While many were glad someone was standing up to the government over land rights, others were curious what would have happened if the occupiers hadn’t been white.