The other day, I had lunch with a group of people I know and a stranger. Typically, when a newcomer is meeting a group, he or she might ask where every member of the group is from. This was not the case at this particular lunch. For the sake of my ego, I am currently pretending that everyone else gathered at lunch identified their place of origin Von Trapp-style while I was getting my coat.
During a discussion of regional differences – particularly the pace of the East Coast versus everywhere else in the country – the group got on the topic of life in Pennsylvania. I don’t even remember what I said, but the newcomer in question turned to me and said, “And where are you from? Because it’s not Pennsylvania. You stick out like a sore thumb in this group.” Which I guess is sort of true. While the newcomer was not a native Pennsylvanian, everyone else at the table was and somehow, I was not fitting in quite right. I explained that I’m from New Jersey (and, internally I noted, “And damn proud”), about an hour “that way,” pointing in the direction of 78 East. For good measure, I also mentioned that, for me, living in Pennsylvania is like living in a foreign country close to home.
Since I’m me, I’m not quite sure what codes me as a New Jerseyan, but I have a feeling it’s something about the way I speak*. And while my regional accent is not as pronounced as some (at least, that’s what my Mid-Western-raised boyfriend says, probably to stay on my good side), I don’t sound like I belong on Jersey Shore (and most of them are from Staten Island anyway). But all of this did get me thinking about something that I think holds true. When a person is from a place with a regional accent – even if that accent only creeps into his or her vowels from time to time – all bets are off when that person gets upset. And while I know I’ve been doing quite a bit of 30 Rock posting lately, this clip of Kenneth gets my point across quite nicely.
On a related note – and not because I’m Jersey proud or anything – but have you ever noticed that once people realize you’re from New Jersey, they can’t stop talking about it with you**? It’s like being the prettiest girl in the room.
* And possibly my demeanor. People from New Jersey do have that air about them. Or, at least, we’re pretty good at identifying each other on sight. But then again, everyone knows everyone else’s cousins.
** The lunchtime conversation in question did involve a discussion of the regional nuances of New Jersey residency, particularly the divide between North and South Jersey. I clarified that if you’re only going to divide the state in two, then I am from North Jersey. But to be more accurate, I would classify myself as having been raised in Central Jersey. And I am most certainly not from South Jersey. Which I hear is lovely. But it is most certainly not my home. Crazy Pineys live there.