Made in Jersey. Enjoyed Everywhere.
“Tell me do ya wanna, can you really take the drama, of a Jerseylicious girl like me? I am crazylicious, I am superlicious, I’m the Jerseylicious girl you need!”
First of all, here’s where I recommend that all other theme songs just throw in the towel – this kind of magnificence only happens once. But secondly, there’s some profundity lurking in there among the made-up words and ear-bleeding house beat. We Jersey folk are special, and we know it (and no – I’m not making air-quotes around the word “special”). I mean, how many other States have multiple reality shows devoted solely to the antics of their hair salons, beaches, bakeries, housewives, and Cosa Nostra underworld? None, I tell you. Not one. (By the way, ’tis a gross miscarriage of Nickname Justice that the best ones always go to the MTV miscreants – I refer, of course, to “The Situation:” the Rolls Royce of nicknames – especially when the best I ever did was “Laverne 2000” after a brief mid-90s flirtation with monograms and sassy backtalk.) But I digress – we are Jerseyans. We’ve seen things. We’ve done things. We’ve smelled things. When life or love (or the law) drives us across state lines in any sort of permanent capacity, we are, many of us, lost.
I’ve lived a lot of other places in recent years, some more hospitable than others. I’ve lived where, during huntin’ season, one’s crucial accessory is not a tramp-stamp or Christian Louboutin hooker boots, but a safety-orange Elmer Fudd hat. So’s not to get shot and all. (And while we’re on the subject of Michigan, I just have to say that despite being strongly in favor of equal-opportunity-everything, I still have this nagging little feeling that giving blind people hunting licenses is in no one’s best interest. Except maybe the deer’s.) I’ve lived in places where the discovery of human shit on my property was routine, as was the occasional errant moo-cow. I’ve lived places where I’ve gone a week without seeing another human, and have had to wonder (hypothetically, of course) how much one would have to talk to one’s self before one’s talking to one’s self might cause one to be considered “bananas.” I’ve been imprisoned for days by End-Times Weather and enticed by tiny ghost-twins to come and play with them forever. And ever. And ever. I’ve lived where octogenarians are driven to assault one another over a bag of ice during hurricane season – where elbows sweat and 24-hour curfews are enforced until the “Snake Situation” is under control. I’ve lived where people routinely and without irony use words like “Dag-nammit.” I’ve had to wait in line at gas station restrooms behind bands of prairie-clad Sister Wives while their collective husband (singular) gassed up the tricked-out minivan and stocked up on canned goods. I’ve spent actual time devising plans to scare away earnest missionaries come to save my sorry soul – plans which usually involve alcohol, obscenities, and ritual virgin sacrifice…shit, maybe they’re right.
The fact is, I am quite ill-prepared to handle my Jersey Fury outside state lines. Bird flipping, high-volume profanity, and making “offers one can’t refuse” don’t seem to be effective strategies in the Lesser States. I am a veritable fish out of water almost everywhere I go (or, as I like to think of it, an anchovy out of its extra-virgin) and have little grasp on Who I Am and How To Be. I mean, at Home? There’s no call to “Forgive those who trespass against us.” One simply goes outside with one’s baseball bat and says, loudly and with gestures, “Why don’t you come up here and say that to my face, old man!” At Home, one’s Holiday Spirit is not nearly whole without gridlock, angry shoppers, and perilous parking-lot aggression. I can say with some authority that a New Jersey local has never found herself in line at a craft store on “cue-pon day,” silently begging God to kill her. At Home, it’s never more than a 5 minute drive to the Perfect Slice or some decent deli. At Home, when you need something taken care of – whether it be a simple paint job or something more, um, permanent – everyone’s Got a Guy. And everyone understands that when your friend tells you they’ve Got a Guy, you don’t ask questions. Jersey Grudges are nurtured loudly and lovingly and are almost always temporary (exception: Bad Blood. Bad Blood is forever.). At Home, Mall = Mecca.
So do you see, friends? Do you see why, in these kinder and gentler places, I find myself at sea? No matter where I go that is not Home, I am a stranger in a strange land – where slow drivers (which obviously enrage me) do not throw Slurpees out the window or make the finger-across-the-throat gesture when you give them a show of your finely honed Road Rage – they simply move out of the way or, God forbid, give a small, sincere, sorry-wave. Where people open doors and step aside and give up seats for others. I mean, what am I supposed to do with this? Blend? Myriad times I have found myself in the company of Those Less Coarse after a routine display of my Regional Inappropriateness as they titter nervously and resort to their banal choruses of “You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take the Jersey out of the girl…”
And to them I say, always, “Why the F*CK would you want to?”