It appears that the fabulous Jake has a gripe with the residents of New Jersey who have unceremoniously invaded his tranquil upstate haven. While I proudly hail from the land o' smoke stacks, corrupt politicians and an inordinate amount of people named Pinky, I do not feel compelled to take Jake to task for his blistering take on my home state. He makes a lucid and compelling argument that a lot of my former neighbors are, well... complete and total assholes.
I used to get really worked up and defensive about it but well, why fight it? I was born to be the butt of jokes. I'm a Catholic dyke from New Jersey, for fuck's sake. Have at it. But be warned -- the fact that I did grow up west of the Hudson River and east of the Delaware means I'm well-equipped to curse like a motherfucking trooper. I don't use this skill often but when necessary, I can lash out at critics in a most colorful and original fashion. I have used the term "ball sack" preceded by an active verb, folks. More than once. And while I won't utter the "c" word, I'm not above calling someone a "twat." What's my take on obscene gestures, you ask? The Finger is for pussies. I pretty much abstain from gestures altogether but every now and then I opt for the rather distasteful yanking motion with one hand. But mostly I curse. I mean, why resort to sign language when I can emasculate men and make women cry with my salty vocabulary alone?
I really have no choice but to lower my defenses about NJ. It's exhausting otherwise... especially after this weekend's viewing of MTV's True Life: I Have a Summer Share. This particular episode followed the exploits of Tommy, a construction worker from northern Jersey, as he made his way down the Garden State Parkway to Seaside Heights each weekend. Sigh... Normally, I would have an issue with the laziness of MTV for picking on Jersey in the most obvious ways but sweet Jesus, the folks in my old area code don't exactly make it too difficult. Unfortunately, the walking Jersey stereotype is not an elusive species. I mean, why would MTV go elsewhere when they can fix their cameras on the Seaside boardwalk to showcase a neverending parade of teased hair, stretch pants, airbrushed "100% Bitch" t-shirts, copious amounts of camel toe, hot pink talon-like finger nails and gold crucifixes suspended from herringbone chains?
And naturally, Tommy was the guido to end all guidos. He wore a Don Corleone cap ALL THE TIME, drove a Cadillac, drank Coors Light and got into a fight EVERYTIME he went out. Even worse, he spoke of Seaside as his "territory." Yeah, that smell of urine you get down there is not from the drunks coming out of the bars late at night. Rather, it's from when Tommy threw open the door of his Caddy and left a trail of piss from the Parkway to the Atlantic Ocean to mark his turf.
I've been to many parties and bars in New Jersey where I've encountered the likes of Tommy. And I have to say that I hate the likes of Tommy. When I'm met with this sort of a man, I thank God I'm gay. Nine times out of 10, the likes of Tommy is flanked by a glitter chick who is his best platonic girlfriend. She always feels compelled to say, usually in between puffs on a Parliament or Marlboro Light, "[Guido's name] is a total sweetheart. He would give you the shirt off his back. The shirt off his motherfucking back!!" She will stab at the air with her cigarette for emphasis and will declare that she wants to cry when she thinks about "the amount of heart that guy has." As proof, she will usually cite the example of a brutal beating the Guido threw some poor slob who had the audacity to look at the Platonic Glitter Chick. I never know what to say in response to this. I think I'm expected to go, "Awww! Ain't he sweet! You're lucky you have him looking out for you." As if. At least I've since learned to not cup my hand over my mouth and gasp in horror.
Now lest you think I'm totally embarrassed about my upbringing and land of birth, I would have to say that I disagree. I'm proud to hail from the same state as Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Philip Roth, Allen Ginsberg, William Carlos Williams, Joe Piscopo... (I was just making sure you were paying attention with that last one.) But anyway, unlike Tommy and his ilk, I display the appropriate amount of shame and humility. I will readily admit where I'm from, albeit with some sort of qualifier. "Yes, I'm from New Jersey but I don't use Aqua Net or anything. Seriously. I haven't touched the stuff in years." While I'm on the subject, you won't ever catch me making devil prongs while yelling "Jerrrrrrrrrrrrrsey!" when the state's name is mentioned at a public event. I will never threaten to fuck anyone up in an argument over a parking spot. I don't call all pasta "macaroni" nor do I refer to carbonated beverages as "soder." I know one person named Louie... and I don't like him. I enjoy The Sopranos for the intriguing storylines and compelling characters, not because I can name where most of the exteriors are shot. Furthermore, I've never set foot in a Camaro or any tricked-out car with mudflaps, spoilers, chain-link license plate covers or other accoutrements that are not factory-installed. So there.