Maxed Out 

The locals test - take it if you dare

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Moving to a new place is a daunting prospect. Fitting into that place is even scarier. It's like going to a cocktail party where you don't know a single person... naked. Do you stand in the corner, admiring the host's art, perusing the bookshelves, fondling the priceless tchotchkes scattered tastefully around the room? Do you scam drink after drink from the servers gliding gracefully past, stuff your face with expensive hors d'oeuvres and ultimately either pass out in the guest room or don a lampshade and shout out, "Hey everybody, let's twist!"

Or do you work the room, introduce yourself, make small talk, discover something interesting about the person you're talking to, rely on the general good nature of other people to not completely snub you, not be completely put off when they do snub you, slip a roofie in their drink to get back at them for snubbing you, thank your host and clandestinely make off with one of her Hummel tchotchkes in revenge?

Or maybe a combination of all those things?

Fortunately, or not, there are many entrances into Whistler life. We are a young town, young both in age - present company excluded - and in spirit. Whistler's even young in actual chronological time, dating only from the early 1960s in its present incarnation. And as a bustling (bristling?) resort municipality, we run on volunteerism. Hell, even a lot of the paying jobs around here seem more like volunteering than working... especially when you open your first pay slip. In short, there are lots of ways, short of lying, one can become a Whistler local.

Ours is not the small, parochial attitude of, say, outport Newfoundland or the deep South. A favourite snub in small, southern towns is referring to outsiders as, well, outsiders. This despite the fact they may have been born there but were unfortunate enough to be born to parents who came from elsewhere, the next town over, perhaps.

This propensity to brand outsiders as the "other" is captured in one of the quaint, none-too-subtle, homespun sayings popular when speaking of first-generation interlopers with questionable roots in the community. "Jus' cuz the cat had her kittens in the oven, don't make 'em biscuits."

So I'm a bit taken aback that people think it's hard to blend into Whistler. I mean, every season we embrace a new batch of instant locals, don't we? I'm not certain asking someone, "Where you from?" is a blatant attempt to exclude them or question their localness. It's what we're supposed to do in a tourist town. It's friendly. It sparks conversation. It gives us a chance to answer their reply inquiry with, "Oh, I live here." and bask in the momentary glory of knowing they wish they were us, even as they insist we clean up their child's vomit.

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