By: Christine Feeley Twitter: @FeeleyChristine Instagram: @christinefeeley
I love meeting new people.
But sometimes I really hate having to introduce myself because one of the first questions people ask is “Hey, so where are you from?” and I’ll reply, “I’m actually from New Jersey!”.
What comes next is usually a look of poorly-masked judgement and the response:
“Oh… you’re from Joisey…does it smell there?”
I’d like to break this down a little bit. Starting with, “does it smell there?”. I’m sorry, are people aware that we’re the Garden State? It’s not my fault that you all stink it up every time you come visit! Second of all, I have never met a single human being who pronounces where they live as “Joisey”. This is a misconceived notion about an accent that does not exist, and the funny part is, it is most often perpetuated by the people who “pahk their cah”.
All my life I have been ridiculed for where I’m from simply because people are so deeply uneducated about it. And listen, there have been times that I’ve disliked New Jersey too. I was one of the few students in my grade who did not apply to Rutgers- because I knew I wanted out. But reflecting on that now, I think that was a product of being from a small town and not the state itself, because I genuinely never realized how much state pride I possessed until I started school at UMass.
Going to school in Massachusetts is weird. It’s remembering that “the city” here means Boston, not New York. It’s forgetting that not everyone knows about the state-wide debate over whether a particular type of breakfast meat is called Taylor ham or pork roll (It’s Taylor ham; no question). It’s taking a bite out of one of my favorite carbs and realizing that people here are living the biggest lie of them all- not knowing what a real bagel tastes like. It’s having to awkwardly explain to people that no, you don’t know how to pump your own gas. Or alternatively, sitting in the car at a gas station wondering why your friend is getting out of the driver’s seat before realizing that it’s because she has to do it herself and someone is not going to come do it for her.
There are honestly so many things that people up here have never experienced. Some of you have probably never had Playa Bowls, which is shocking and horrifying to me. Yes, we pay $13 for a bowl of blended up fruit drizzled with Nutella that we could easily make at home, but it is undoubtedly one of the best-tasting things you will ever spend your money on.
Another thing that often gets blank looks is when I tell people about MDW (or Memorial Day Weekend for those who might have trouble with standard acronyms). For us, the entire year leads up to what is essentially New Jersey’s state holiday where the entire grade plans extensively in advance to go down the shore – not “to the beach”. When the week arrives, the alcoholics usually skip school to go down on Wednesday, with everyone else arriving Thursday or Friday night, to begin what is essentially five straight days of dages.
Yes, they’re called “dages”- not “dartys”.
But the point is, it’s honestly crazy to me that these things don’t exist for some people. I hate to say it, but all of you are really missing out. It’s sometimes baffling to me why people have such a strong judgement towards New Jersey, because there are actually so many great things about it.
I constantly have to defend myself.
Sure, we might have one of the 5 biggest heroin ports in the United States, but we also have the best bagels and pizza outside of New York City, fantastic international food, the highest number of millionaires – and horses – per capita, we’re the origin of the blueberry as well as cranberry bogs, we have beaches with boardwalks, mountains, forests, farms, easy access to both NYC and Philadelphia, great public schools and colleges, and we’re the birthplace and home to famous icons such as Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, and Meryl Streep.
So why do we get so much hate? The answer is simple. People have never actually visited and instead choose to base their knowledge off of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”. I’m sorry that you’re just jealous because Massachusetts doesn’t have its own TV show!
If we’re being real, there are so many better states to roast. Like if you want to pick an east coast state to shit talk, why not Connecticut?* Connecticut is like a teenager having an identity crisis – does it want to be a part of New England or the tri-state area? Half the people there would easily die for the Red Sox, but the rest would one hundred percent leave their husbands for Aaron Judge. I don’t know how they’re not facing the same sort of judgement that NJ receives, when they can’t even make up their mind about who they want to associate with!
And speaking of sports, yes, of course you guys have the best sports teams. I root for them too. But no one ever gives me the chance to give my explanation (I was born in New Hampshire, lived there for 4 years, and my dad’s side of the family all lived in Mass so I grew up with the fear of being disowned if I supported anyone but New England) because they immediately begin to roast the Giants and the Jets and all the other teams that I too, also think suck.
But this is the sort of blatant prejudice I have faced my entire life, and it is the reason that I wish people were more educated about the state as a whole as well as the people within it. Mainly so they can realize that not everyone supports awful sports teams just because they happen to live there and that not everyone is white trash who dress like Snooki.
Because contrary to popular belief, my life is not an episode of “Jersey Shore”. I don’t drink “cawfee” and “warder”.
I drink coffee and water.
So the next time you meet someone who says that they’re from Jersey, don’t mock and judge them based on a TV show. Instead, think about how you would feel if the entirety of Massachusetts was judged based on Amherst.
Looks like Christine’s got some support on this one