Thinking About: Three Questions

by Molly Coyne

Not long after I moved to the Memphis area from the Pacific Northwest, I met a woman—who has since become a friend—and she began: “So you’ve been asked the three questions already, I assume?”

I looked at her confusedly. She smiled and proceeded…

Where do you go to church?
Where does your husband work?
Do you play tennis?

I burst out laughing. She was exactly right! I had been asked those exact three questions in some variation by nearly everyone I’d met since moving to the Mid-South. It was eerily comforting—and exactingly precise.

While it’s a funny generalization, there are a great deal of transplants in this Memphis area, and many people are stay-at-home parenting while their spouse works for some of the big corporations headquartered here (FedEx, International Paper, Autozone, etc.). And tennis is crazily popular for many. Connecting the dots between these questions allowed me, as it will you, to infer details about the demographics and lifestyles of some living in the areas beyond downtown Memphis.

Three little questions which speak so loudly.

Our identities are so much wrapped up in our place and sense of self but can easily be contained within smaller and smaller circles when we really think about it. I often think back to these three questions, still; at times I feel frustrated by them because they seem overly simplified and in other spaces, I’m intrigued by them and what they say about me and those around me.

So, now it’s your turn: What are (or would be) your community’s three questions?

P.S. Thinking About Wife Bonuses

A former high school English teacher and editor, Molly Coyne recently left the classroom when she and her husband and their three young sons relocated from the Pacific Northwest to Tennessee. Read her previous piece on Parenting Podcasts and Gender Expectations

[Photo by Slim Aarons, “Tennis in the Bahamas”]

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