Illustration by Lars Leetaru
My wife says I see ghosts all over this town. In a sense I do, but they’re usually not the scary kind. They’re the landmarks of my youth—buildings that once were something else or that have vanished entirely but still occupy a significant portion of my dwindling brain space. I know I’m not the only one suffering from this nostalgic malady. There are loads of walking encyclopedias of useless Cincinnatiana cruising up and down the streets, pointing out where Shuller’s Wigwam or El Rancho Rankin or Trivet’s once stood to a car full of bored family members. It’s gotten so that every time we drive down a certain lonely stretch of Red Bank Road, my wife, anticipating another one of my tedious gone-but-not-forgotten soliloquies, practically screams “Arise Swallen’s!” God how I wish it would. I miss that place.
All of which is to say I was pretty pumped to take the quizzes we compiled for the “How Cincy Are You?” package this month. I fully expected to ace them. Then I ran into tricky questions like: “You are now in your 60s and finally marrying your high school crush thanks to the power of Facebook. Six children, their spouses, their children, their children’s spouses, and your mother’s feeble brother the Monsignor will join you as you tie the knot in: A) Sun City, Arizona; B) Charlottesville, Virginia; C) Naples, Italy; D) Naples, Florida.” The question hit upon so many social customs peculiar to the Queen City—and the confounding mathematical possibilities therein—that, before I could even begin to focus on the “correct” answer, my mind was reeling. As hyperbolic as it sounds, it’s all…totally…plausible. Too frazzled to contemplate it, I checked B and moved along. I know the right answer but I also kind of don’t want to know, you know?
Still, I did well enough to rate a fairly high degree of Cincinnati-ness. (Or maybe that should be Cincinnatuh-ness.) But my advice would be: When in doubt, check D. And once you’ve tabulated your results, go to www.cincinnatimagazine.com/knowacincinnatian and let us know how you did (or what we missed). Until then, I’ll be dreaming of the record department at Swallen’s.
Originally published in the February 2014 issue.