Thursday, August 30, 2007

The garden state of did I actually say that? Or, how to turn all of New Jersey into a suburb of New York

I'm slightly hesitant to post this so soon after Miss South Carolina. But I trust you know that the differences between the two of us are far vaster than skin deep.

I know about the maps. I just sometimes don't think about the individual states.

My date the other night - the one whose name I couldn't remember - is originally from New Jersey. (And Dagny, apologies in advance for what I'm about to describe.)

We spent a little time talking about New Jersey. The fact that I don't know much about it. That my sister-in-law is from there but I have no idea precisely where. That the accent is interesting but she doesn't have one. That his is very slight. That I stopped there once on my way to NY and had the best cheese fries ever on the Jersey shore.

In other words, all positive, and not particularly substantive. I never deliberately denigrate the place anyone calls home. Just occasionally accidentally.

As I was eating my seaweed salad, he was talking about missing the amazing produce that he grew up with. Fantastic corn, incredible tomatoes, all kinds of fruits and vegetables. He was, in fact, rhapsodizing about the tomatoes.

"Huh. They grow all those things in New Jersey? Really?"

Agriculture, it turns out is huge in New Jersey. Did I not know this? No.

"What," he wanted to know, "do you think most people in the state do for work?"

Goodness. I'd never given it any thought.

"Well, I suppose I thought they commuted to New York."

"The entire state commutes to New York?"

Hmm. I know I'd commute to New York.

"You do know it's called the Garden State?"


"Why do you think they call it the Garden State?"

That bit I'd actually thought about before. Yes, I'm properly cringing as I write the next line.

"People always talk about how beautiful it is. So I always assumed New Jersey was full of lush green lawns."

"Nice lawns? You thought it was an entire state of nice lawns?"

Well, in a word, yes.


  1. Hey, you wouldn't be the only one. I assumed that due to the rainy weather, they had these GREAT botanical gardens they were really proud of. :) Why don't they call it the Produce State, instead? It's THEIR fault people get confused!

  2. In your defense, he erroneously makes it sound like NJ is some sort of vast, expansive continent all its own. In fact, the "entire state" is not much larger than Manhattan Island. Did I not know this? Yes.

  3. Living in Pennsylvania for 4 years brought in very close proximity with the jerz and its inhabitants. It's no lie. There are little markety stands with fresh produce everywhere. And I find that people from Jersey are fiercely proud of being from Jersery. I found Princeton (the town) to be charming and quaint, and full of great coffee shops. I think it's just Newark and Patterson that are the dirty parts. Other areas of Jersey (Hoboken, the shore, The Cherry Hills mall) are great! Very Lush and green. Not like what you think Jersey would be like.

    Although in response to your view about the lawns, I will say this much. jersey does seem to have a high incidence of lawn ornaments.

    You know Flamingos, and gnomes and the like.

  4. correction. the mall, hoboken, and the shore are not lush and green. I meant that part about Princeton.

  5. First - the third of the state that doesn't commute to NYC, commutes to Philly. The remaining third sticks around and deals with tomatoes, corn, cranberries, and pharmeceutical production.


    And to be honest, the part that I grew up in WAS so close to NYC, that until I was 10 or so, I thought it was a state of lush, green lawns.

  6. Ah, you made me miss Jersey! Your date is right about the tomatoes... amazing.

    Ew, but add Camden to Sarah's list of nasty areas there.

  7. G&D - Yeah! It's so them and not us! :)

    Jordaan - I had no idea! I seriously picture this enormous state of one rolling lawn after another. Kind of like parts of England.

    SL - You reminded me - this conversation devolved into the alarming amount of yard art you could fit into a state full of lawns! And I'm going up to Princeton sometime this fall to see a friend who just moved there. Excited to check it out!

    Dagny - Phew! I am relieved to hear that!

    AF - I asked if they were even better than you get in Italy, and he was reluctant to claim that. But even if they're close, well, I have to try them!

  8. Don't kid yourself, you don't want to set foot in most of Jersey (except for the part that is close enough to NYC that you can go there to escape it). Actual Trivial Pursuit Question: Which state has the most superfund toxic waste sites? Actual Trivial Pursuit Answer: New Jersey.

  9. Ninja--I really want to beat the crap out of you sometimes.

    NJ is beautiful. I grew up in a gorgeous neighborhood, surrounded by other gorgeous neighborhoods...

    If you want to smell something stinky, I'd suggest Staten Island or most of the actual boroughs of NY themselves.

    I will put my bitchslap hand back down now.

  10. Ninja PS--I just relaxed on my anger towards you about my homestate bc I remebered you love Judy Greer.

    That almost makes up for it.

  11. Growing up in Delaware, the answer to what-do-you-think-we-grow question was usually "smokestacks."

    And tollbooths.

    But then again, I'm from Delaware.

  12. I thought Garden State was just a movie title, then I spent some time in Cherry Hill with in-laws.

    Nope, they really do have gardens and lush, green lawns there!

  13. HIN - I forgot you're a massive NYC snob!

    KassyK - Yikes - I'm glad the target of your ire is Ninja and not me! I do honestly keep hearing about how lovely NJ is.

    WiB - Not having grown up in the US I missed all the random stereotying of various states.

  14. Kassy: I don't just love Judy Greer, I LOOOOVVE her. I adore her. I would drink her bath water, As my friend Dirty Dave says "I would eat the corn out of her s**t."

    As for Joisey. There are some nice areas, like Princeton, I'll admit. BUT, you gotta admit that some parts of jersey (like where those refineries are) smell just as bad as Staten Island. Okay, nothing smells as bad as Staten Island (except in a parellel universe which collides with another universe and both Staten Islands inhabit the same spot in the space time continuum), but...what was my point again?

  15. HIN - Congrats. It's not easy to gross me out, but the thought of eating the corn out of her sh*t makes me queasy. Dirty Dave seems to really merit his name.

  16. well, i had no idea about the Garden state origins, either. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I read that...all I remember from Jersey is the stench coming from Newark. Which is only a fraction of the state, i know!

  17. :)
    I also thought is has a lot of green;-)No, really.


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