Living away from Pittsburgh for the past eight years, I’ve accepted that if I ever date again, the chances of him being from Pittsburgh are pretty slim. Dating a fellow yinzer would be so simple – holidays wouldn’t need to be split between families, battle lines wouldn’t need to be drawn among sporting events, and I wouldn’t need to explain what a cookie table was and why it would need to be at our wedding. But on the other hand, I realized this weekend that dating a non-Pittsburgher would mean I’d get to introduce someone new to all of the wonderful things I love about my hometown.
Some things are small – the aforementioned cookie table, for example – and some are silly – the delicacies of Pittsburghese and proper use of the word “nebby” – but all are important to me. My hometown is a huge part of who I am, and anyone who loves me will need to love it as well. I got excited yesterday, thinking about how I’d show off my hometown to someone new, and what I’d want to share with them.
Fourth of July Fireworks
Pittsburghers love fireworks. No, seriously. We love fireworks. We are proud of our fireworks, and we shoot them off at any opportunity, but there is no bigger display than the Fourth of July celebration at the Point. My family used to go every year, getting there early in the afternoon and setting up a blanket on the grass, eating funnel cakes, and waiting impatiently for it to get dark so the show could begin. I haven’t been to the party in years, but would love to show it off to someone new. Because, seriously, we love fireworks. We do them well.
I went to Kennywood yesterday for the first time in about seven years. The park feels much smaller and much less glamorous than it did when I was a kid, but the magic is still there. Behind its gates is a place where you can gorge yourself on Potato Patch fries and funnel cakes and cotton candy and not feel bad. The place represents my childhood and teenage years, sneaking a kiss with my boyfriend in the Jack Rabbit’s tunnel, running around with my friends getting telescope pictures (and seeing how many you could attach to your backpack), and meeting your parents at the Merry Go Round to check in. It is also the home of the greatest roller coaster in the world:
Come on, did you really think I wouldn’t say this? I don’t care if the next guy I date hates Pittsburgh teams. He is going to come to games with me, and unless we’re playing his team, he’s going to suck it up and cheer for the black and gold. He’s going to come to Heinz Field with me on a cold, December day, when the wind is whipping off the river. He’s going to come to the Consol Energy Center late in the season, when the Pens are chasing a playoff spot and the entire city is behind them. And he’s even going to come to PNC Park, home to the worst baseball team but the most beautiful baseball park view in America, to drink beer and eat hot dogs and soak in the sunshine. My city loves sports, I love my city, and if he loves me, he’s going to need to be initiated into the experience.
There are better places to eat in Pittsburgh, and there is food I like better. But nothing says Pittsburgh more than meat, cole slaw, and fries smashed between bread, washed down with a cold beer.
The Incline and Mount Washington
It’s touristy, and it’s cheesy, but you know what? It’s also beautiful.
I could go on and on all day. I really do love my hometown, and I want to show it off to anyone who visits. I’d take them to Mineo’s for pizza, and we’d wander around Squirrel Hill to look at all the houses I wish I could afford, and we’d end up in Schenley Park to go ice skating. I’d take them to the Carnegie Museums, and I’d tell them how I always thought the Hall of Architecture was one of the most beautiful, most romantic places in the city. (Ted Mosby would be so proud.) I’ve got the itinerary planned. Now I just need the guy.