Seahawks make locals forget about Seattle Freeze–for now

Seattle FreezeI actually was beaten to the subject of this post by Melissa Perincheril, someone I have never met. In an opinion column buried (on page C-8) in today’s Seattle Times, she wrote that the successes of the Seattle Seahawks in the run-up to SuperBowl XLIX have helped pull Seattleites together to overcome a local phenomenon that I have written about here from time to time. In her words:

Our city is infamous for what is called “The Seattle Freeze.” We smile politely at you if we are off our game and accidentally make eye contact with you, but we silently pray that you will not start a conversation with us. We are standoffish because our daily wardrobe includes headphones attached to our ears and cellphones glued to our hands–both clear indications of our desire for limited human interaction

According to the author’s bio, Perincheril is a 21-year-old University of Washington grad and presumably has been around here a while. Since the bio says says she works in the South Lake Union area, her employer probably is Amazon.

Perincheril suggests the Seattle Freeze permeates all human contacts. But I think the Seattle Freeze, which now has its own Wikipedia entry, mainly manifests itself in the way locals interact with the considerable number of newcomers–like me, New To Seattle. Still, Perincheril’s point strikes me as extremely well-taken.

As Perincheril suggests, talking about the Seahawks has become the great ice breaker in Seattle, mainly because it allows the common showing of emotion and camaraderie. Since last year’s successful SuperBowl run, I have witnessed this myself on any number of occasions. Seattle is a town full of controversies and dissent–over major public works projects, over taxation and especially over the never-fails-to-disappoint Seattle Mariners baseball team. But much of this is expressed by people talking over–rather than with–one another.

With the Seahawks, the hostilities seem to melt away. Newcomers and total strangers have something to talk about and agree with.

I don’t think this is exactly by design, but the Seahawks have put together a collection of someone-for-everyone characters, a marketer’s paradise. You want outspoken brashness? There’s cornerback Richard Sherman, whose pointed criticisms of top National Football League officials hit home. You want piousness? There’s quarterback Russell Wilson, who invokes the protection of the almighty along with his own offensive line. You want a good comeback story? There’s coach Pete Carroll, who bombed out of two previous pro coaching gigs and fled USC just ahead of scandal to find unprecedented success on the shores of Puget Sound. And if you’re sick of the opinions of these others, there’s running back Marshawn Lynch, who just wants to be left alone, except when he’s barreling over opponents or doing strange TV commercials for a local plumber.

The question remains, of course, what will happen to local camaraderie once the Seahawks stop winning championships, which happens sooner or later to every team (see entry for Yankees, New York). Then we Seattleites might have to start dealing with one another over real issues. And Melissa Perincheril might have to write a different column.

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