I've had minimal, but memorable exposure to the existence of Cleveland throughout my life:
1990s: I ate ice cream out of a souvenir Cleveland Indians hat-shaped ice cream bowl with Chief Wahoo on it. I have no idea how my mom got it—she doesn't care for baseball and has never been to Ohio, but I think of orange sherbet every time I see it.
2000s: The story my high school economics teacher, Mr. Hanrahan, told us about a guy painting "Cleveland Sucks" on the side of his house to stick it to the man, and The Drew Carey Show's opening song, "Cleveland Rocks."
2013: When I met a gentleman named Dino at The Why Coffee Shop in Niagara Falls, NY, and he instructed me to "come strapped" to Cleveland.
Up until this point, I wasn't worried about getting jacked in Cleveland. West Virginia was my biggest concern, but Cleveland?
Sure the city's fallen on hard times, especially with Lebron James packing for the Heat, but Cleveland, as far as I was concerned, was a land of cleves, whatever that is, and you don't bring a cleaver to a gun fight, ergo, there are no guns.
Is that how the saying goes?
I cautiously drove into Cleveland with one eye open for danger and one eye open for traffic safety (because of the ticket earlier that day) so I could put two feet in a Great Lake.
Always wanted to do that.