My boss wrote me on our chat feature at work, and whenever it isn’t work-related she starts: “Not work-related.” So then I can take off my suit and floppy tie, kick off my low nude heels, and talk as a regular human.
She was reading a book by someone who grew up in Detroit, and the author kept referring to a “party store.”
“I just assumed she meant the kind of place where you can get streamers and balloons, but after awhile it was clear she meant a convenience store. Is this a Michigan thing?”
Is this a MICHIGAN thing? You’d better believe it. We ALL call convenience stores party stores. When I first moved to Seattle, I went out with one guy who caught me saying “party store,” and also, “the UP,” just assuming everyone knew that meant the upper peninsula. Assuming that everyone knew there was an upper peninsula.
“A party store?” he asked, when what I described didn’t involve pinatas or colored paper plates.
“Yeah; you know, where you buy your liquor and your beef jerky and your lottery tickets,” I said. The other thing about Michigan—at least when I lived there, which was 30 years ago—is you can buy alcohol the same place you buy beer and wine and why the hell not?
Here you have to go to the ABC store, and I don’t even know why they call it that. Like, liquor is one of the first things you learn? Liquor is as easy as a, b, c? Anyway, whenever I go to to one, which happens like once every two years or something—before a party, but not before a party store—I feel sort of sleazy.
Also, they are not open Sunday, because of God, and Sunday is one of the two major days you might want liquor, if you ask me.
Anyway, to reiterate, the guy I was dating, who turned out to be a terrible ass, asked, “A party store?” And when I gave him the line about it’s where you buy your beef jerky and your liquor and your lottery tickets, he said, “That’s a party for you people?”
Well. Yeah. Kinda. Wouldn’t it be to you, Mr. Seattle Snob? What’s a party to you? Asian fusion and a latte? Getting on a ferry and donating to Greenpeace? Asshole.
There was a party store I stopped at after school when I was in junior high (and it was junior high then) where I’d get faux 7-Up slurpees (I mean, that’s a 7-Eleven thing. So this guy, knowing what his competition had, imitated them but they weren’t called Slurpees, which if you ask me is a disgusting name) and a Chick-o-Stick.
And do you know that TO THIS DAY the guy who runs the store knows who I am?
So, party stores aren’t ALL about liquor. They’re also about candy and soft drinks and cigarettes. All the things that make life worthwhile.
My point is this: What local thing do you guys say that somehow you found out was a local thing? What’s your “calling soda ‘pop'” of your locale?
When Grammy first moved to Michigan, she was at the grocery store and told the bag boy to just “put it all in a poke,” and he didn’t know that meant “bag” in West Virginian, and she was humiliated and never said it again.
Things like that. What you got?
Go to the party store and get us all drinks and maybe the latest Elle and then we’ll talk.