On the bottom of some Pennsylvania license plates, it says, “You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania”. New Jersey license plates should read, “You’ve got a relative or an ex-college roommate or someone you know in New Jersey”. It seems that people have some sort of connection with the state, and now with the Sopranos around, it’s almost everyone.
Whenever it becomes known that I am from New Jersey, whether it’s when I’m at a bar watching a hockey game and I’m rooting for the Devils, I say a word like “coffee” or “dog” (or the one that Southern Virginians can’t seem to get over: “embarrassed”. Some huckleberry once tried to convince me that it is pronounced “um-bear-issed”), or if I make the egregious mistake of making my Jersey heritage known by doing something like putting “JRZGRL” as my handle on those tele-trivia games they have at some bars.
The slow-witted will usually say something like “duh, huhuhuhuh…what exit are you from?” I am at the point where I need to carry cards around in my wallet that say “I lived so far from the damned Turnpike that I don’t even know how to get to my house from it.” Others will ask about “the smell”. Listen here, asswipe. DC smells like urine. North Carolina smells like dogshit (the whole state—I’m not kidding. It’s like they’re constantly churning around old settled dirt). There’s lots of bad regional smells out there, and I can tell you for damned sure that the town I grew up in would invest in thirty-story air fresheners if there were even a rumor of an unpleasant odor. But this one I can really do little more than smile and fake a laugh to.
Then there are those who actually know something about New Jersey or have lived there. They will ask me what town I’m from, and inevitably ask if it’s near Cherry Hill or Edgewood (why those two towns I have no idea—but the answer is no). Since I come from Randolph, a town that, while physically large, has a very low impact-per-square-inch rating, I usually have to say that I’m from a town just outside Morristown (que the Morristown/Moorestown conversation), a somewhat more significant town. It also doesn’t help that even while I lived in New Jersey, I was confused as to my actual town of residence since my home happened to be situated on the borders of three towns: I had a Mendham mailing address, a Chester telephone number, and went to Randolph schools. So I usually say I’m from Morristown, because that’s just easier. Either the person knows someone who is from there, or from someplace that is near there (pretty much any town in northern New Jersey will do), and unless they are actually from that place or have a location of reference, the next phase of the Jersey Conversation is merely a few smile/nods and a beer sip. Then they ask what brought me here, and I say I went to college in the area and stayed. The conversation tends to peter out after that.
The reason why I have gone into this is because I was about to subject Darksmile to this same torture. I almost did it. But then I remembered how once when I told someone that I was from New Jersey and they asked me if I knew Jennifer Russo. They didn’t know what town she was from, but they knew she was from New Jersey.
No. I do not know Jennifer Russo.