Small town life has been romanticized onscreen and in literature since, well, forever. The quirky local shopkeepers, the overinflated importance of town politics and that comforting sense of everybody knowing everybody.
But to the people who were lucky enough to actually grow up in the Small Town USAs of the world, it represents so much more than just an idyllic fantasy.
It's real. And it's definitely weird.
Small towns operate on a wavelength all their own: Time passes in slow motion, everything looks like it has a filter on it and the strange becomes standard.
And even though we could make a living complaining about where we came from, there's something about having roots in a small town that makes everything that comes after it seem so normal. And for this perspective, we will be eternally grateful.
Here are eight things that only people who grew up in tiny towns will understand.
1. Everyone wore a million hats.
You know TFW your middle school principal is also the mayor AND the owner of the local movie theater? No? Then you probably didn't grow up in a small town.
Since there are so few people in the mix, everyone's bound to take on multiple roles, no matter how strange the combinations may be. A substitute teacher who painted houses and also acted as musical talent for the graduation party circuit? One of the more normal combos.
2. The local grocery store acted as a de facto town hall.
There was no such thing as a “quick trip” to the market. The grocery store was where people gathered to discuss town politics, catch up with friends and, of course, dish about local gossip.
The biggest scandals broke in the bulk candy section, and business deals were closed in the frozen food aisle (the buzz of the freezers made for heightened confidentiality).
3. High school sports were king.
Small towns' obsession with high school sports is an age-old cliché. But trust me, it's truer than true.
Whether it was football, lacrosse or soccer (let's be honest — it was football), the whole town turned out for big games. And if your town's team made it to the finals? You could expect signs in front yards, painted car windows and more than one local legend dressed up as the mascot.
4. Certain summer jobs were reserved for the "hot" people.
Have you ever seen a nerd scooping ice cream? Or a hottie filing medical records at the local doctor's office? Didn't think so.
Sure, it was kind of discriminatory, but sometimes that's the way the cookie crumbles.
On the bright side, this method of hiring had the positive effect of herding all the cuties in one place, so if you were in the mood to flirt, you knew exactly where to go.
5. You learned how to make your own fun.
One of the downsides of small town life was the lack of activities to choose from. You couldn't exactly take in a play or rage at a rock concert on a Friday night. The upside? You learned how to make your own fun at an early age.
You shot short art films on your parents '80s-era video camera and you frequented thrift stores to try to emulate the high fashion of cosmopolitan cities. No matter how you filled your days, resourcefulness and creativity were necessities.
6. You were bound to run into your teachers at the most inopportune times.
Seeing teachers outside of school was par for the course if you grew up in a small town. And it was ALWAYS awkward, no matter the circumstance.
Running into your English teacher when you're dripping sweat at the gym? Gross. Being forced to chat with your Bio teacher when you're drunk off stolen wine coolers at your friend's dad's birthday party? Terrifying. (But in hindsight, pretty hilarious.)
7. You could literally never get away with anything.
Because you knew absolutely everyone, you couldn't go anywhere without running into an acquaintance, friend or family member. Which meant that normal high school shenanigans like sneaking around with a date, swiping booze and toilet papering your nemesis's house became a whole lot harder.
When the principal/mayor owned the movie theater (aka everyone's go-to date spot in town), your aunt worked at the liquor store and two of your friends' dads were cops, it kind of put a damper on your typical teenage wilding.
8. Going out around the holidays always results in an unofficial high school reunion.
Whether you moved away or stuck around your hometown, the holiday season nightlife scene will always be a special kind of beast.
Take it from me: When you hit up the local watering hole, be prepared for a full-on high school reunion.
Every prom date, grade school bully and ex-BFF will be in attendance. Bonus points if you make tipsy eye contact with that one *hot teacher* — hey, it's legal now.
Get ready to be drawn in to the perfect little town…where all appears to be safe, simple, and innocent. But nothing and nobody here are as they seem…RIVERDALE, a small town with big secrets...Series premiere Thursday, January 26 at 9/8c on The CW!