how to be a person

College guidebooks can only tell you so much about what university life is really like -- but there's a whole lot more to know about navigating your freshman year of college than how to join a sorority or choose the right classes. Nothing in the Princeton Review will guide you through your first nasty hangover or encounter with a roommate who listens to really bad music. Enter "How To Be A Person," a hilarious -- and practical -- guide to college and life itself from the editors of The Stranger. The unfiltered advice book is a must-read for current and soon-to-be college freshmen. Check out an excerpt from the book below, and pick up a copy to read more.


A Guide To America

By Lindy West

So, you’re a big shot now. A great big big shot, with plans and dreams and wanderlust and gas money. Look at you! Going places! Maybe you’re moving away for college, maybe you’re relocating for a job, maybe you’re throwing a dart at a map just for the dick of it. But where are you going to go? What are you going to do? What are you going to wear? What are you going to eat? THE UNITED STATES HAS SO MANY PLACES IN IT, YOU GUYS. Here’s a little guide to help you get oriented, have fun, and fit in with the locals so you don’t end up dismembered in a quarry because you used the wrong fork or something. Mind your forks.

The Pacific Northwest

Mascot: A dude named Jeff (he has a band).
Motto: “Hey, you should check out my band.”
Main Attractions: Kurt Cobain’s house (Seattle), Bruce Lee’s grave (Seattle), Crater Lake (Oregon), Space Needle (Seattle), whales (the ocean), that one vegan place with the kale chips (Portland).

This is that damp, green place up in the corner. The Pacific Northwest is the nation’s leading exporter of trees, airplanes, vegans, software, serial killers, suicide bridges, polar fleece, octopus attacks, coffee-related smugness, bands, sad white people, sad white people in bands, and owls. All the stereotypes about the Pacific Northwest are both true and untrue. You will hear that it rains a lot -- it does, but it rains more in Miami. You will hear that the people are passive-aggressive and cold -- some are, but others aren’t, because THAT’S HOW PEOPLE WORK. You will hear that everyone is always drinking a latte -- FALSE, nobody drinks lattes. Normal people drink Americanos. You will hear that Washington and Oregon are both run by puppet governments controlled by Sasquatch. Yeah, that’s actually true. Oregon has no sales tax. Washington has Dave Matthews. The eastern halves of both states are exact replicas of Wyoming.

The Midwest

Mascot: A clogged artery.
Motto: “Ow, my artery!”
Main Attractions: The Sears Tower (Chicago), the Gateway Arch (Saint Louis), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland), Oprah (OPRAH!!!!!), corn (everywhere).

The Midwest is a wholesome place where everyone is nice, even the bad people (and there are several!). The sizable Scandinavian population keeps things Lutheran and bland. A typical Midwestern meal consists of feeding a cow potatoes and ham custard until it dies, then cutting the cow into steaks, stuffing the steaks with Jell-O salad, deep-frying the stuffed steaks, piling the steaks into a large mound or berm, smothering the whole thing with maple-beer- cheese gravy, and serving it all with a side of popcorn shrimp and “broccoli” (which is just sticks of butter carved into the shape of broccoli). Vegetables are outlawed. And for dessert: hugs!

California

Mascot: Tom Hanks.
Motto: “You’re fat!”
Main Attractions: The Hollywood sign (Los Angeles), Yosemite National Park (Central California), the Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco), the Integratron (Joshua Tree), gays (San Francisco).

Los Angeles is where entertainment comes from. Northern California is a utopia of breezy marijuana fields and comically large trees. Southern California is Mexico with breast implants. The rest of California is flat and covered in cow poop. All of your favorite people live in California (Weird Al Yankovic, Joan Rivers, Snoop Dogg), but all of your least favorite people live in California too (Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton, the ghost of Ronald Reagan).

The Southwest

Mascot: Sand.
Motto: “World’s Greatest Grandpa.”
Main Attractions: Area 51 (Nevada), the Grand Canyon (Arizona), Las Vegas (Nevada).

In the bottom-left part of the country, there is a big desert where tarantulas and crazy sand-sheep lived in peace with the indigenous human population for many billions of centuries. Then one day an invading army of old people ran a garden hose all the way from California and turned the desert into a ludicrously unsustainable golf course, and all the tarantulas were like, “Whaaaaaaaat!?” and California was like, “I’m thirsty, bro!” New Mexico is like Arizona but with more hippies. Arizona is like New Mexico but with more old people and racism. Nevada is like Arizona but more prostitutey. Utah is like a church basement but with better national parks. New Mexico is like Mexico but newer.

The South

Mascot: Delta Burke being chased by an alligator.
Motto: “We don’t take kindly to mottos.”
Main Attractions: Civil War battlefields, Appalachian Mountains.

Okay, okay, so the South has had some public image problems over the years (rhymes with “blavery” -- whoops!), but Americans are nothing if not forgetful. And the South really does have a lot going for it. First of all, SEERSUCKER SUITS. Second of all, BARBECUE. Third of all, SEXY VAMPIRES!!! The South might not be the number-one easiest place to move if you’re a non-straight or a non-white or a non-vampire-hunter, but it’s the 21st century and things are loosening up. Try big cities (Atlanta, Houston) and university towns (Austin, Chapel Hill), which tend to be more liberal. And full of vampires.

(c)2012 By Lindy West, Dan Savage, Christopher Frizzelle, Bethany Jean Clement, and the staff of The Stranger. All rights reserved. Excerpted from How to Be a Person by permission of Sasquatch Books.