Friday, October 14, 2011

New Jersey: A Primer

Where to begin?  So many misconceptions, so little time.  People from New Jersey are not terribly entertained when upon meeting someone with the misfortune of having been born elsewhere asks, "What exit? Ha-ha."  5 coming from the north, 4 coming from the south.  Satisfied?  We do go "Down the Shore," not to the beach or whatever it is you other people do.  See?  You care what exit we're from, we don't give a damn where you summer.  We INVENTED IT...Cape May.  Look it up.  You watch loads of "Reality" and fiction shows about think you know all about us....but again, notice we're not watching nearly as much "Reality TV" about you...because again, we don't give a damn.  Though there are those that would protest America's obvious fascination with New Jersey...I'm just the messenger here, folks...I would point out me thinks you doth protest too much!  Check the ratings on the Real Housewives of New Jersey, the Sopranos, the Jersey Shore, etc.  Go ahead, make the train wreck argument.  But try this on for size, New Jersey continues to be the most densely populated state in the nation, 11th in actual population while being the 47th smallest state.  Add to that the fact that New Jersey has nearly 1,000,000 acres of protected wetlands, not to mention the glorious home Mrs. Leeds, the Pine Barrens, 22% of New Jersey's land mass, only partially overlapping the wetlands and only marginally inhabitable...due in no small part to Mrs. Leeds' aforementioned 13th son. 
North Jersey and South Jersey are not the same thing.  We take that very seriously.  People from North Jersey favor New York teams.  People from South Jersey know it's all about the Flyers, the Phils, and the Iggles.  That's right, the Iggles.  Snowballs at Santa Claus and Vet Stadium (as my friend Jim would say, 40 on the curb for the Vet), home to the first on-site court and jail in sports, my friends!!!  People from South Jersey do not say "Joisey," nor do we think it's cute when when you do.  People from South Jersey drink "wooder."  People from North Jersey call it "Taylor Ham."  People from South Jersey know that is wrong...and's "pork roll." 
Being from New Jersey, there is still much South and North (in no particular order) share.  For starters, we're from New Jersey...thank you, Jesus...and you're not! (I'm doing the thanking on behalf of my Jewish friends as well, you're welcome.) Bruce Willis, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Grover Cleveland, Jack Nicholson, Buzz Aldrin, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Woodrow Wilson, Judge Scalia...ME and FRANK SINATRA!  We actually DO know where Jimmy Hoffa's body is buried...and we're not telling.  Wetlands are better than deserts...just sayin'.  Most Diners in the world...yummmm....pork roll and cheese on a bagel.  7 malls within 25 miles...BEAT THAT!  Hospital waste on the beach?  Damn skippy...we like a challenge!  Monopoly?  You're welcome.  First baseball game?  Played in NJ.  First college football game?  Rutgers vs Princeton.  Rutgers won.  Walt Whitman...a poet, my friends, not just a bridge!  That "guido" thing?  Not new.  It didn't used to require an arrest record (the closest we got was a detention from Sister if our skirt didn't reach the floor when we knelt or our hair was too high) and an STD test...just a perm, a lot of gold, and Sebastian Spritz Forte.
All these things and more unite those of us from New Jersey.  Mother Leeds' 13th son...maybe he unites us most of all.  You may believe in the Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabra, or North Carolina's Knobby (don't be sceered DT, he has purty harr), but those...well...maybe, maybe not...  Mrs.Leeds' boy, doesn't care if you choose to believe him....he IS.  Mother Leeds was known to dabble in witchcraft...and swore that on a dark and stormy night, her 13th child would be born of the devilWhen Lucas was born, he looked to all, a normal, baby boy.  As the local women put Lucas in his mother's arms, before their very eyes, his feet became cloven hooves, he sprouted wings and a forked tail...his head described in so many terrifying ways I dare not describe them here!  He flew from her arms, up the chimney, and has terrorized the Pine Barrens ever since.
This was in the 1700s, mind, and some have said that Lucas grew restless, finding the Pine Barrens too small and has since terrorized further north and west into New Jersey.

There are rumors though...terrible rumors...that Lucas has changed his name...and returned east...

...and had a bedazzeled lollipop named after him.  Mother Leeds was right!

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