Whenever someone asks me where I'm from, I tell them to guess, knowing full well they’ll never get it right.
Maybe it's my vaguely Italian (Lebanese? Turkish?) features or my preference for eggplant parm over avocados, but they inevitably come up with New York or New Jersey, and I inevitably floor them when I say, "No, California, born and raised."
Perhaps because I embody the exact opposite of what people expect in a Golden State native, or more likely because I actually did spend the first 18 years of my life there, I'm particularly attuned to what those identifying characteristics are. Here's my list of five dead giveaways you're from California:
1. You're either wonderfully tan or glaringly pale, there is no happy medium.
If you're lucky enough to be from one of the beachy or hike-able parts of California that make people actually want to live there, congratulations; you developed a base tan when you were a toddler and grew up to be a bronze god or goddess. If, like me, you grew up in a desert wasteland where on a typical summer day the mercury reached 120, you just never went outside and therefore lived a very pasty existence that haunts you to this day.
2. You grew up driving everywhere.
Perhaps because it was so hot, or because public transportation wasn't part of the landscape, you took the car whether you were going a mile to school or 20 miles to the outlet mall. And while your friends from the Tri-state Area think any car trip over 45 minutes is some huge production, you still think nothing of a 4-5-hour ride to Las Vegas (where, incidentally, your family vacationed, even when you were a small child).
3. You went to Coachella (or had at least heard of it) before it was "a thing."
While it's only become a household name in the last few years, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has been around a while (since 1999, in case you were wondering). I went as a high school senior in 2005 when it was a concert that a high school senior could afford to attend, even with Coldplay as the headliner, and not everyone was dressed in feathers and American Apparel stirrup leggings. If you're from California, chances are you're surprised to see what a hipster, druggy mecca it's become, but you probably go back every year anyway because you can crash with relatives instead of camping out like a hobo and listen to amazing music performed by holograms.
4. You use the "#LakeShow" hashtag with no sense of irony or self-consciousness.
Full disclosure: I know nothing about sports. But it seems to me that the L.A. Lakers are California's equivalent of the New York Yankees. People hate them because they're generally really good and are thus super cocky about it, and their fans are just as ornery. Like a showy male peacock, you’ll flaunt your purple and gold even while watching a game in another team's bar out of state. You'll dress your (future) children in a Kobe jersey despite any questions about his moral character. You just love the #LakeShow and you're not ashamed of it.
5. You're a Mexican food snob.
This could just as easily be said of our friends from Texas, but essentially, we have impossibly high standards for Mexican food and will not be fooled by upscale New York chains that serve $16 margs. This is because if we weren't lucky enough to get the real thing at home, our childhood best friend's parents made us authentic, mouthwatering enchiladas on every play date. And because our local restaurant was a hole-in-the-wall with a tacky green paint job and a plastic life-sized horse statue out front for no good reason, which happened to serve the best tacos this side of Mexico City.
Bonus! You'd never refer to your home state as "Cali." Guys, it doesn’t make you sound as cool as you think it does.
Californians, can you think of any more? Leave them in the comments!