Recently I attended a business conference and met people from all over the United States. I noticed some of them were very proud of their home states, even to the point of identifying themselves with state-related nicknames.
When I met two guys at a cocktail reception, one stepped forward and said, “I’m from Texas. You can call me ‘Tex.’ This here fella is from California. You can call him ‘Cal.’”
I replied, “Well, I’m from Connecticut. So you can call me, um, ‘Connie.’”
“OK then!” Tex exclaimed, “Connie it is. Nice to meet ya, pardner!” He then proceeded to give me a warm Texas greeting in the form of a joyful slap on my back, which, luckily for me, only fractured two ribs.
Tex and Cal and I were soon joined by Minnie (Minnesota), Mitch (Michigan), and Mr. Obnoxious (New York).
Each member of the group extolled the virtues of his respective state. Tex talked about the wide open spaces and sprawling cattle ranches, “as far as the eye kin see.”
Cal described the scenic Pacific beaches in his home state, “and the, like, awesome weather, dude.”
Minnie told us about the thousands of pristine lakes and all the exciting winter activities in Minnesota, including his favorite competitive sport, “avoiding frostbite.”
Mitch discussed boating on the Great Lakes, the secluded campgrounds, and the fact that in recent years “random gunfire has dropped off a bit in metro Detroit.”
Mr. Obnoxious said, “In New Yawk, we got Broadway and the Statue of Liberty and — Hey, wha’ choo lookin’ at, pal? How’d ya like yer face rearranged?!”
“Whoa now, hold on there, Mr. O,” Tex said. “He’s just the waiter, and he wants to know if you need another drink.”
Tex stepped between Mr. O and the frightened waiter, and to break the tension, turned to me and asked, “So Connie, where the heck is Connecticut, anyway?”
Before I could answer, Cal said, “Isn’t it, like, in Canada, or something?”
“Yeah, sort of,” I said. “We’re in New England. Right between New York and Boston.”
“Oh yeah,” Tex said. “That’s one of them itty bitty states about the size of an average Texas back yard.”
“What’s Connecticut famous for?” Minnie asked.
And that’s when it hit me. We’re not exactly famous for anything. I stammered for a few moments. “Well, uh, we have high taxes, and, uh, the cost of living is outrageous, and, uh, the highways are overcrowded and crumbling, and, uh…”
“Oh wait!” Mitch exclaimed. “I read about Connecticut in the newspaper the other day. You guys are famous for having your politicians go to prison, right?”
“Ah yes, thank you, Mitch,” I said, grateful for his assistance. “I almost forgot. We lead the nation in politicians behind bars. Many mayors have been imprisoned, and one was re-elected after he got out. And we’ve got a former governor who’s on his second stint in the slammer.
“And of course,” I continued, “if they scrutinize ALL our politicians the way they went after that former governor, there won’t be anyone left at the Capitol to vote for the new prisons we’re gonna need to hold them all!”
With Mitch’s help, I was able to save face and contribute to the discussion. But afterward I started thinking, “My home state must be famous for something other than crooked politicians and high taxes, right?”
So, I need your help, folks. Please email me at MerryCatholic@gmail.com and tell me what you think Connecticut is famous for, and why you like living here (assuming you do). If you can come up with something good, I’ll discuss it in a future column — plus brag about it at my next business conference.