Are you Catholic? How rich is your family? What kind of person are you?
One seven-word question answers these three intrusive queries and more for people in St. Louis: Where did you go to high school?
St. Louisans are notorious for replacing, "Hi, how are you?" with this question about one's alma mater, to the bewilderment of transplants.
Turns out, St. Louis is not alone.
See also: Where You Should've Gone to High School
In a piece about American greetings, The Atlantic lists five other places -- Louisville, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Baltimore and the island of Oahu -- where readers wrote in to say their typical greeting asks about high school.
"Baltimoreans always ask, 'Where did you go to school?' and it always means, 'Where did you go to high school,'" one reader tells The Atlantic. "Baltimore is a working-class town, and college was not an aspiration for folks. Your identity, character, life's trajectory was defined in toto by the place you went to high school."
Asking about high school is so common in New Orleans that "no doctor would think you were asking about med school," says the reader from the Big Easy.
Like in St. Louis, people in New Orleans ask where someone went to high school to judge which neighborhood they're from and to tell, to some extent, their class: Private school? Possibly wealthy. Expensive private school? Totally wealthy. Poor public school? Not so much.
The question is hardly a scientific (or even fair) way to judge someone's background, but that doesn't stop people from asking it.
Didn't go to high school in St. Louis? Never fear. We have a quiz for that. Find out which St. Louis High School best fits you.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.