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13 Questions I Have for You, North Carolina

by Jacqueline Kehoe Jul 21, 2015

1. Were you trying to be hip with your state motto? Because it worked.

“Esse quam videri” is the tattoo you’d be sporting across your left shoulder blade (if you had one), and for those of us who don’t speak Latin, it means “to be, rather than to seem.” So essentially you got inked hundreds of years ago with the motto “Keep it real, y’all” and you had no idea how relevant your inner hipster would be. I’m guessing you lost a dare to someone from Asheville, yeah?

2. Why don’t you put cheese on all your grits?

Everything is better with cheese. We all know this. You know this. Why do you keep bothering with salt, pepper, and butter when cheese can turn gelatinous, viscous porridge into a Southern mouth dream. Making it a standard would take your Southern identity and make you Commander of the best meal of the day. Deacon of the delicious. King of the Smokies. You could strike a deal with the Dairy Farmers of America and cheese-lovers from the world over would donate their tourism dollars to your worthy cause. Who needs the Wright Brothers when you have 100% North Carolinian cheese grits?

3. Are you trying to make me fat?

Between my Krispy Kremes (and cheese grits) for breakfast, my Bojangles’ biscuits for lunch, and the Pepsis that I pound down before dinner at the Cook Out, I’m beginning to think that you have some ulterior motives. I mean, a corn dog and a quesadilla as a side to my pulled pork sandwich? Don’t mind if I do. And, sure, I realize that you combat this with hiking, swimming, kayaking, and rock climbing in places like Stone Mountain, Chimney Rock, or Jockey’s Ridge, and your farm-to-table movement is practically out of control, but until you’ve smelled a Krispy Kreme at 5am, you just won’t understand.

4. Do you just laugh at the Midwest sometimes?

Between your maze of islands offering thousands of miles of coastline, pristine, empty beaches (that don’t charge $20 to park like their counterparts on the West Coast), beautiful autumn reds, greens, and golds climbing up the sides of hilltops, hundreds of shades of blue from the apex of the sky to the bottom of the mountains and back, you’ve got to feel a little hot to trot. I mean, I guess you’ve had centuries to get used to it, but it’s got to feel good, right?

5. Why and how do you have two college basketball teams 10 miles apart that both don blue and are both powerhouses?

Does this make sense to anyone, including you? Bueller?

6. What was the idea behind the naming of “Cheerwine?”

It’s NOT WINE. You got me all excited that you had sugary, tasty alcohol flowing from the spouts of dopamine-inducing caffeine machines in barbeque joints and mom & pop shops across your state. Free refills on this self-labeled elixir of joy while I stuff my mouth full of such good barbecue I’m no longer vegetarian? I knew it was too good to be true.

7. Why can’t you just settle on one kind of barbeque?

I kid, I kid. I would never ask you to choose and I would never want to start up that political debate again. But I have to ask: do you have favorite child? Are you a sweet, ketchup-y, pork shoulder-y kind of barbecue connoisseur? Or do you like it vinegary and peppery and all the hog but the squeal? Eastern or Lexington, baby, you can’t have it both ways.

8. How did you get Asheville so cool?

Seriously. Look at Fresno, Allentown, Sioux Falls, Tampa — they’re all trying and they’re all different degrees of succeeding, but you’ve made a solid reputation out of it. It’s nothing like Charlotte, Columbia, or Raleigh. It’s nothing like most places, really. It’s people cut from a different cloth in a place that was boarded up and shut down not too long ago. It’s the ultimate rag to riches story, and it was managed by a bunch of creative, new-age, slightly gothic Hippies not even trying to create the “New Freak Capital of the World.” Do you kinda wish no one knew about it?

9. Who’s your favorite Nascar driver?

Seriously. If you had to pick. C’mon.

10. Why does everyone else pronounce “Appalachian” wrong?

I just don’t understand. Why don’t you climb up one of your mountains and shout out over the rooftops, “It’s app-uh-LAAA-chin. Like in AAAA-pple. You’re not saying it right!” That’s what I’d do, in a proud Mean Girls moment to be relished. They’re just going around looking like imbeciles saying “app-uh-LAY-shun.” You’d be doing ‘em a favor.

11. Do you think it’s possible you care about the Wright Brothers a little too much?

That little bickering you had with Ohio over the whole “first in flight” and “birthplace of aviation” thing was a little uncalled for, North Carolina. I mean, c’mon. You already have 3 presidents, Andy Griffith, Clay Aiken, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Edward Snowden, Zach Galifianakis, and the list goes on. What does Ohio have? Lebron James and the Slamma Jamma Parmigiana? And besides, doesn’t “Blower of Whistles” or “You got your life, I got my fish, it evens out!” have a ring to it, too?

12. Why aren’t you doing anything about Florida?!

There’s got to be something you can do about all those Florida license plates. They’re everywhere and they’re not going away. We’ve got to develop a plan…we could call it the “Citrus Tax” or something. Just think about it.

13. Are you secretly where all pirates go to die?

“Esse quam videri” is a great motto, but “Where All Pirates Meet Their Doom” has quite the edge to it, too. And at least no other state would contest you on this (seriously, Ohio) between Blackbeard and Roanoke. Think of the branding! Massive National Pirate Day parties. Pirate theme parks. Entire pirate towns with exorbitant entrance fees. It could be so American! It could be so North Carolina.

Cheese grits. Hippies. Barbecue. Pirates. That could be the tattoo on your other shoulder blade.

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