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Crash Course 

The 50 things I learned in my first 84 days as a Spokanite.

click to enlarge Jonathan Hill Illustration
  • Jonathan Hill Illustration

1. If you drive a U-Haul up the South Hill in a snowstorm after a 12-hour odyssey from your former home in Oregon, an old man will stand on the side of the road and nod disapprovingly as you spin your rented tires.

2. A pizza box? You can’t recycle a pizza box.

3. Basketball is Spokane’s official religion.

4. I have gladly joined this hoops congregation.

5. Strangers say hello to each other on the sidewalk.

6. People correctly call it “pop” here.

7. Jeans with the sparkly butts are popular right now.

8. These jeans apparently come with the purchase of an oversized SUV.

9. I’ve taken to calling people who wear said jeans “Sparkle Butts.”

10. The phrase “Sparkle Butt” has yet to catch on.

11. Not shoveling your sidewalk is the Spokane winter equivalent of parking a car on your lawn.

12. Arena football is a sport.

13. This sport is shockingly entertaining.

14. And easy to make puns about.

15. Empty beer cans are not worth 5 cents here, making drinking less rewarding.

16. People aren’t as used to the rain as you’d think they’d be and even as a Seattle native, neither am I.

17. Don’t even think of recycling that booklet of worthless coupons, either.

18. The Insane Clown Posse has made impressive inroads in this market.

19. There sure are a lot of Chinese restaurants on Division.

20. And tanning salons.

21. And places that sell discounted energy drinks.

22. If you find yourself at a Gonzaga game wearing a Loyola Marymount hat because that’s your alma mater, Zag fans will be suspiciously kind to you.

23. This is probably because they know you’re going to lose.

24. If you think you can recycle tin foil, you are wrong again.

25. People actually wear bicycle helmets here.

26. People ride bikes here, too.

27. Spokane is either overwhelming Irish or overly eager to get drunk on St. Patrick’s Day.

28. The escalators at River Park Square are slightly terrifying when used in the company of hundreds of Hunger Games fans.

29. Don’t try to recycle that jar, either.

30. Country music is everywhere.

31. Getting in your first car accident at age 29 is a bummer.

32. It’s even more of a bummer when the other car drives away.

33. Passersby, however, are surprisingly ready to volunteer as witnesses and offer sympathy for damaged fenders.

34. Sixty-two degrees is the temperature at which shorts become acceptable apparel.

35. Seventy is probably a more acceptable threshold.

36. I’m not planning on running Bloomsday.

37. People ask about your Bloomsday plans a lot.

38. The Wonder Years could have been set here.

39. The closer one gets to the Idaho state line on I-90, the more acceptable it is to drive 85 mph while talking on a cellphone.

40. Some people add a dog in their lap to the equation. Because, ya know, hey, it’s almost Idaho.

41. Don’t make jokes about Nickelback at bars in north Spokane.

42. There are people here who take Nickelback seriously.

43. The parking availability downtown is not that bad, so please stop complaining.

44. If you are downtown and cannot readily see a drinking establishment, you’re probably not downtown.

45. The word “bagel” is, by and large, correctly pronounced here.

46. I have grown fond of the local beer offerings, because I’m generally fond of beer.

47. You can’t recycle that yogurt lid.

48. Contrary to what you may have heard, the Spokane Valley was not created by the flow of I-90 over the years.

49. Kids play in their front yards here, a sign that our future is not totally screwed.

50. Spokanites enjoy lists. Or at least I hope so.

Mike Bookey, who joined The Inlander on Jan. 23, is the paper’s culture editor.

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