Back in the last century, you couldn't get decent Mexican food in the East, or a good sandwich in California. Now there's all kinds of great Mexican food here, thanks to the presence of all kinds of Mexicans who now do all the landscaping, house painting and concrete work around here as well as in the West. It's still tough to find a decent sandwich in California, but it's hardly anything to feud about.
Even rappers that used to shoot each other over which coast they rapped on seem to have chilled on that practice.
The only real difference nowadays is that people in the East are willing to live with insects, while Californians are not. If an insect is found in my Significant Other’s house in San Diego, its presence is greeted by an indignant howl beginning with my name, identifying the insect by type and location and a demand that I promptly grant that bug eternal peace.
My mother, on the other hand, greeted me as I walked through the door by saying “The ants aren’t bad this year.” Her house has ants. Tiny little ants that have lived there longer than she has. I'm not saying East Coasters like ants. There are many exterminators here that will try and kill ants for you, but none of them will kill them all. A completely hygienic household here, regularly doused with ant-fatal chemicals, will still have a few tiny ants patrolling their kitchen counters. This is considered successfully controlling them.
My mother doesn't believe in insecticides or exterminators, so her ants have to be controlled by eternal vigilance. Anything that might attract ants, and this includes water, has to be stowed where the ants cannot get to it. That is why there is a pineapple upside-down cake in her microwave as I write this, even though there is no such thing as microwaveable pineapple upside-down cake.
Pineapple upside-down cake attracts ants like Kate Upton attracts second looks. Just a crumb of it left vulnerable on the table will cause some wandering ant to throw on the robes of the Ant Moses and lead the rest of his peeps to a sugary Promised Land, which means that piece of cake will soon be carried away by an estuary of ants as thick as a pinch-hitter's forearms.
Don’t think that the insect life in my ancestral home is composed of only one species. It is too soon to put in the screens here, but too warm to sleep with the windows closed and there is a night light in the guest bedroom, which I presume my mother, being an exceptionally gracious person, has installed for guests who are afraid of the dark. Guests who object to sleeping under the flight path at Bug O'Hare are just plain out of luck, as most of the neighborhood biomass of tiny airborne creatures streams through the open window, vectoring towards the beacon of the night light.
These insects can only be identified by their buzzing and, occasionally, biting properties. The visible insect denizens of her house, besides the ants, are the stinkbugs. These things do not come by their name arbitrarily. When undisturbed, they emit a light but unpleasant odor. When they are lying on their backs with their legs waving in the air, which they do because they fall frequently, being the clumsiest members of the insect kingdom, their panic makes them smellier. If you succumb to the urge to crush them, you will regret it. They will still have natural enemies, but you will no longer be one of them.
Colonies of them abide in the window wells and houseplants of my mother’s home.
If my S.O.’s house was mobbed by reeking beetles, she would consider torching it for the insurance money morally justifiable. East Coasters just coexist with them. My sister in law has a pair of gold stinkbug earrings. If you can’t beat them, salute them.
As I write this, real-time bug drama is unfolding before me. A spider is letting itself down from the ceiling by a strand, dropping straight for the bare skin of my knee. Not wanting such a close encounter, I grab its thread with my fingertips and bungee the arachnid towards the corner. It crawls away unharmed. I couldn’t kill it. Mom won’t let me.
After all, spiders eat insects. It’s on her side.