This is my love letter to New Jersey.
A year ago, the Times' New Jersey section (which I usually hate because it's entirely written by cranky former New Yorkers who are pissed that they now live in the 'burbs) wrote a shockingly insightful article called "Proudly Answering to 'Jersey Girl.'" The Times charges for its archives, so I won't bother linking. But here's a very true line about a Jersey Girl from the article:
"Nicole McKenna, said the true litmus test for a Jersey girl was this: 'You always say you can't wait to get the hell out of this place. But you A) never leave, or B) leave and then want to come back.'"
Living in New Jersey all these years, I have typically been surrounded by people who also love the Garden State. On the occasions that I have had friends who have left, they typically miss the Jers tremendously. Even transplants I know have grown to love it, usually. Jersey is like this fabulous crazy aunt, who wears bloomers and farts in public. You make fun of her and she irritates you, but god forbid someone outside the family talks trash about her.
Lauren moved to Kansas four years ago, and aside from calling the first month and complaining about how terrible the bagels were out there, she acclimated. But from time to time, she would have a frustrating run-in about her home state. Professors and other students would express shock that she was from NJ, because she "seemed so nice." And the usual jokes about how polluted and "gross" it was came up.
Likewise, last night when there was a conversation about where you would want to go if you had to leave Manhattan temporarily, lame-ass Westchester won out over the Jers (which came in just ahead of Long Island). I might have been okay if they said Rockland County, but White Plains? Come on. Kids, there's a reason I live here. And those reasons are below.
- The only true diners in the world. My personal fave is the Tick-Tock.
- Malls. Goddamnit, MALLS.
- Crickets at night.
- Lightning bugs.
- Some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen.
- Miles and miles and miles of beach - from the tacky (Seaside, anyone?) to the tasteful (Bayhead).
- And speaking of the shore, how about some skeeball and waffle ice cream?
- Bruce. 'Nuff said.
- Atlantic City - it's Sin City East.
- The cheapest, diviest Irish bars around. Contrasted with some of the classiest Irish joints around.
- The best Italian food. Hands down.
- Little breakfast nooks like the Bagel Dish Cafe in Highland Park, which do not have a line around the block (cough cough, Friend of a Farmer).
- Driving ranges all over the place that charge $5 for a bucket.
- The Big M (aka, Meadowlands Racetrack to those of you not betting the trifecta).
- Montclair and its dining options (Thai, Vietnamese, Pan-Asian, Sushi, Indian, Italian, French, Barbeque, Ethiopian, Chinese, Mexican, and a real live dinner club with ginormous steaks).
- New Brunswick, NJ.
The list is not exhaustive - I know I'm leaving off a ton of stuff that I love about my home state. But it's spring, which is a beautiful time around here. And now that I'm a crazy aunt, I wouldn't want my own favorite crazy aunt to think I didn't love her.
No posts for me this weekend, so have a good one. I'll be back on Monday with a review of Deadwood.