Frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I’m from Missouri. You’ve got to show me. — Willard D. Vandiver
When doubting my tall tales told to escape trouble, my mom declared, “I’m from Missour-uh.” Which, as a child, I never understood. Born and raised in Garden City, Long Island, why in the world would she claim she was from anywhere else? And where did the “uh” come from? It’s spelled Missouri, with an i, that’s pronounced, ee, which also made little sense and only magnified my confusion.
Dad’s “You’re full of soup” or “Ya bagrat” clearly captured the Brooklyn brashness we knew and loved. Did my mom secretly prefer the mighty Mississippi over the Hudson River? Showboat over Guys and Dolls? The Cardinals over the Yankees? Well, apparently, yes. Showboat, her favorite musical, featured her favorite song, “Why Do I Love You?” Her upright piano music box chimed the same tune. She even named her dog, Zuri, as in, “I’m from…” Her fascination with Missouri—a state she never visited—fascinated me.
It’s widely accepted that Representative Willard D. Vandiver coined the famous phrase in 1899, and Missourians latched onto it ever since. It became their unofficial State motto, and it adorns their license plates. Yet “Show Me” has caused me nothing but grief my entire life. My frothy eloquence got me out of lots of trouble over the years, but never with Mom. So, I am not and never will be a fan of the “Show Me State.” And even though Missouri can’t claim Genevieve, a born and bred “New Yawker,” as a native daughter, you’d be hard-pressed to convince her with your frothy eloquence that she wasn’t from “Missour-uh.”