There it was, on the cover of the June issue of National Geographic magazine. Along with "Chile's Wild Coast" and "Djenne, Eternal City of West Africa" was "Cary, North Carolina's Big Small Town." It was a profile not only of the town where I live, but of my very own zip code: 27513.
The pictures told the story: a suburban lawn populated with white folks and their white kids on bicycles; a strip of white, cookie-cutter "five, four and a door" colonials; a row of white SAS execs taking a break from a game of inner tube water polo. But the most tooth wrenching was a photo of the "Women of the Wessex subdivision," each wearing a tiara during "bunco princess night," described as "a mix of dice game and costume party where moms can let their hair down" (i.e., consume wine).
Although the story alluded to the Southern ways of the not-too-distant past, I would have liked a little more, well, color. Cary is one of the more racially diverse areas of the Triangle, particularly because of workers from nearby RTP. It has Latino and African-American populations, although unfortunately, there's little mixing of races or income levels outside of the shopping malls.
The tiara-wearing moms are no match for Andy, the tow truck driver across the street from us, who repairs stock cars in his driveway and occasionally fires up his welding equipment at 7 a.m. Then there's Charlie, a guy we call a "yard artist," who flies a Confederate flag with a sign inviting anyone who's offended to "KISS MY ASS."
The article didn't show the swarms of chirping bats that feast on mosquitoes in our neighborhood every night. Nor did it have a photo showing the look on the faces of the two Evangelicals who knocked on our door when we moved here. We had just explained that we were already members of the Raleigh Friends Meeting. They looked at each other, then at us, as if we were something out of the pages of National Geographic.