COLUMN: A tale of two Kenzos

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to CacheValleyDaily.com. His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees.

<em>“A girl called me the other day and said, ‘Come on over, there’s nobody home.’ I went over. Nobody was home.”</em>

– Rodney Dangerfield

And……I’m back!

Good ol’ Logan. It waited for me like a faithful pooch whilst I traveled back east for the peculiar soiree we Philadelphians have every New Year’s Day called the Mummers Parade. Few things make me enjoy Logan more than being away from it for a couple of weeks. I cannot believe I am admitting this, but this place holds a certain charm with me.

Getting out of Logan now and then is conducive to my mental health. And going home is usually a great thing for me; especially with the bizarre tradition that is Mummery. I do not even know if I could explain Mummery to anyone not familiar with it. However, even if no such parade existed, like most people, I would find some excuse–any excuse–to go home.

I spoke to a man from Logan I trust a great deal when I was home. He informed me that my voice sounded entirely different on the phone. It seems that only a few days home and I reacquire the fractured English that is a long staple of South Philly.

And that segue leads to Day One of my trip home.

I am sitting in Midway airport in Chicago waiting to connect to my second flight when I hear a sound that I instantaneously recognize. Two women talking in a cadence that is unmistakable to the trained ear. A diction monopolized to a small pocket of a single, large city.

There, in an airport in Chicago, I was listening to a conversation between two Kenzos.

A “Kenzo” is a lifelong resident of a Philadelphia neighborhood named Kensington. Notorious for its crime rate, squalid appearance, rats and drug addicts, Kensington is the skanky White trash enclave in Philadelphia.

To give an understanding of the place I speak of, allow me to relay an old joke:

What has 6 arms, 6 legs and 6 teeth? Three girls from Kensington.

Kenzos are loud drunks who are proud to get into bar fights—-or any fights for that matter. And these are the first people from my beloved hometown that I hear on my way home? They are a part of the reason I moved to Utah!

Sitting there, mouth agape, staring at these women as if they were a museum exhibit, I realized that no matter how hard I am on the “redneck” population of Utah, that there is always someone worse. The fact is, there really is not a Kensington type place in Logan.

Oh, there are some blocks in Willow Park that look a little shady to walk through at night. And if you want to see an unkempt block that screams “White trash” take a walk down some stretches of 600 South…especially on the west side of Main.

Every place in America has their educationally-inferior masses. I always knew this. Sometimes I forget that the difference between a redneck and a Kenzo is not just the view outside of their front door, but also the ability to know what they are and be proud of it.

Moving forward, it is New Year’s Day night. After marching with my string band all day in the official Mummers Parade, we are stuck on what is referred to as Two Street in South Philadelphia. After the official parade, the Mummers clubs from South Philly march down Two Street. It is complete mayhem. A drunken mess of an outdoor party.

Along the route, we are stalled behind a club that is marching slow up the street. A girl I did not know—I doubt she could have been older than 21—came up to me and said, “Cheer up! It’s New Year’s!” I stared at her and replied, “I am having the time of my life.” Her response: “You look like you are going to kill someone.”

Let’s take away the chilling irony of telling a complete stranger that they look like they are going to kill someone for a moment and examine a larger issue. She was probably right. Given where I was and what was going on around me, I most likely had what is sometimes referred to as a “prison scowl” on my face.

This is common when you live in a big city. Crime is higher. To prevent from being a victim, you sometimes want to give off a vibe or hold a posture to the world around you that you are the absolute worst person to screw around with. So, while I was having the time of my life, I also probably looked like I wanted to punch someone’s face in.

Ten years I have been in Cache Valley, and I really think I am much nicer than when I moved here. I do smile at strangers. I say hello. When I am cognizant of my surroundings, I try to give off a less confrontational demeanor. The odds of someone pulling a gun on me here are miniscule. I do not need to be paranoid of my surroundings.

Utah Nice, I love it! I try to embrace it as my own mantra. I am not always successful. My friends here inform me that there are times when I am deep in thought that I have a somewhat scornful look on my face. And I sometimes speak of things or people I do not like and in doing so contort my face to where it resembles Linda Blair about halfway through “The Exorcist”.

I’m working on it! The scales are tipping in Utah’s favor. The hardass big city kid is slowly giving way to the mellow, older Utahan. The defiant South Philly snob who used to openly ridicule Kenzos now is the Logan intellectual snob who socializes with rednecks.

Everyone has a story. Everyone got here by a road worth walking. How absolutely wonderful the human mind is that I have been able to expand my worldview by moving to a small town in the middle of nowhere. Life is a funny thing.

So, yeah, I am back. And while a host of personal problems exist, I am happy to be back. Living in Logan, Utah is far from perfect; but I do live here and for better or worse I am going to be here for a long time. And, on the bright side, it is devoid of Kenzos.

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