Where did you go to school?
If you lived in just about any other American city, you’d respond appropriately. By naming your institution of higher education.
Not here. We do things a little differently here in Charm City.
Here, that question evokes a different answer. Here, you say where you went to high school. It’s of the utmost importance and a gigantic status symbol.
Our sales team at work has grown significantly over the past 18 months. The sales manager is from Long Island, and has come to incorporate this local phenomenon of naming your high school into the introductory speech that new hires have to make.
So their 90 second shpeal includes mandatory recognition of their high school alma mater.
And regardless of where they went to school, as soon as they say the name, there is hooting and hollering and the obligatory insults.
The hoitier. The toitier.
Herein lies my interesting experience with the every now and then question “where did you go to school?”
Dulaney High School, class of 1995.
“Delaney went to Dulaney?!?!” It’s a question I’ve heard and rolled my eyes to dozens of times over the past 20 years. And forget about writing hall passes. I live 2 miles from Dulaney Valley Road. No teacher or school administrator spelled my name correctly without proactive intervention for 4 years.
I say and spell out my last name to everyone who asks me for it. My better half has to do the same thing now — D.E.L.A.N.E.Y.
While I am a proud public school guy, I’m also a proud Irishman. And there’s a big difference in my mind between “D-U-L” and “D-E-L.”
So it may be Gilman, Loyola, McDonogh, St. Paul’s, Calvert Hall, Boy’s Latin, NDP, Roland Park, Garrison Forrest, St. Mary’s. Or Hereford, Severna Park, South River, Towson, Franklin, South Carroll, or Bel Air. You name it.
“Where did you go to school?” will always be a question that, when answered, will tell you where someone is from.
If the response is a high school, or the response is something like, “What do you mean? College or high school?”
You know they grew up in Baltimore.