I was getting a ride from one of the country’s great resorts, The Homestead in Hot Springs, VA, to the airport in Roanoke, 70 miles away. Any time I’m at The Homestead, I always ask the driver to go the scenic way to and from Roanoke -- a very twisty, treacherous run through the mountains -- because the views are spectacular.
One time, my driver was a real backwoods good-ol boy from West Virginia, with a tremendous rural southern accent that was hard for me to understand. A deep, slow drawl. After we talked hunting and fishing (if you’re around me, this will always come up) the conversation turned to Wisconsin. He’d never been, so he wanted to know what it was like. So I told him, ”Geez, man, you’ve gotta come out. Plenty of woods and water.” And he said in that drawl, “Yeah. I heard you have a lot of bars up there.” So I said, “You bet! Milwaukee has more bars than any other city of its size in America. You go downtown and they’re just everywhere.”
And he said, “I’ve seen bars from a distance, but I don’t know what I’d do if I saw a bunch of ‘em up close.” This totally threw me off, so I muttered something like, “You’d love it, man! Like everybody else.” And he said, “I don’t know. They can get awful fierce if they’re angry.” Then it hit me! The accent! So I asked, “Did you think I was talking about bears?! Do you think I just told you that Milwaukee has more bears than any other city in America and that they’re running around downtown?!” Yup. That’s precisely what he thought. Pretty sure the tourism board can count him out as a potential visitor.