If you live in New York City, you have an opinion about Long Island. Likely, it is a negative one. Also likely: you have never been to Long Island.
I’m not here to tell you that every square millimeter of Long Island is a blissful wonderland that would make a Cialis commercial location scout be like “Here! We should put the clawfoot bathtubs on the beach right HERE!!” although there are some beaches that would be quite perfect for the clawfoot bathtubs. Yes, certain parts of Long Island -- and I’m not going to name names (solidarity) -- are industrial shitholes of the highest measure. Everywhere with seven and a half million people has these places. Someone needs to do the welding.
Other parts of Long Island unspool West to East into ghastly stretches of highway or strip mall-proximate thoroughfares. Everywhere everywhere has these places; Long Island is not uniquely terrible because of them. Aside from that, it’s trees, and hills, and beaches, and golf courses, and little Italian restaurants, and dinghies piled with lobster pots, and the pizza place up the street from the house I grew up in, which is owned by a guy who also bought the barber shop next door when the guy who’d been cutting hair there since the '50s died. How do you hate all that? WHY do you hate all that? Because you seem like you’re pretty sure you hate all that.
Let’s run down that why: meatheads, Jay Gatsby, Camaros with “performance-enhancing exhausts,” McMansions for the new money, Oyster Bay estates for the old, post-war, prefab supposed Levittown-ian suburban bliss that eventually banished an entire nation to milquetoast subdevelopments, lax bros, Joey Buttafuoco, Billy Joel, Billy Joel's car (which just drove through the front of your house), a bunch of Jewish kids who went to Michigan. Well let me tell you, it’s not like that at all -- some of the Jewish kids went to Indiana!
Hilarious Big 10 demographic jokes aside, I’ll more than freely admit that all of those things exist. None of them define. The accents maybe do. I don’t have one, never really did -- my mom is from Ohio, dad's from California. In normal everyday not-on-Long Island conversation, I might almost be considered newscasterly. And yet, when I go home I can’t help myself. I speak louder, and in a more clipped fashion, and say everything twice, and say everything twice. That’s how you talk like you’re from Long Island. I can see how it might get to people.
Perhaps the dedication to the accent is because, growing up, all Long Islanders think they’re New Yorkers -- as in, New York City New Yorkers (who we presume kinda also talk like that). It’s not hard to feel this way. You do field trips to the Met, or leopard-filled family time at the Bronx Zoo, or maybe a matinee performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber masterpiece Cats, which really needed more leopards. When you travel, you tell people you’re “from New York.” “New York City???” “Well, Long Island.” And they have no idea what any of it means, and their wonder doesn't lessen an inch, and they ask how many times you’ve been stabbed. It makes you feel cool.