Photo: Tyler Rayburn

1. Wal-Mart is the hottest place to be on a Friday night.

When the movie theater and the mall are at least 40 miles away, the bright lights of Wal-Mart start looking pretty interesting. Folks gather in their pickup trucks, pulling out the coolers, lawn chairs, and occasional confederate flag to grace the night in drunken revelry. It ain’t fancy, but there’s enough room for everyone’s car and restocking the beer is as easy as crossing the parking lot.

2. You’ve loosened your belt loop.

It’s likely you’ve gained a little weight during your tenure; Indiana is one of America’s most-obese states. Fast-food joints outrank the number of churches, which is saying something for the bible belt. We take unhealthy to a new level: every year at the Indiana State Fair, people consume over 37,000 milkshakes and 10,500 deep-fried Snickers. Our eating habits, paired with an environment that encourages inactivity, is a recipe for all sorts of health problems. If you default to ordering fried, not grilled, you’re becoming one of us.

3. Light beer is the right beer.

Since most of our meals come from a drive-thru, light beer is the easiest way to cut down on calories (and cost). We can afford to throw back a few more when we’re hanging out with friends.

4. Your ego is proportional to the size of your pickup truck.

Pickup trucks are meant for trailers, firewood, and various other oversized items. However, repeated exposure to country music, extra-large parking spaces, and social pressure could have you buying into the extended-cab hype, even if you’ve never towed anything. Some say it’s worth getting only 15-miles per gallon as long as your truck looks bigger than your neighbors — and has a hemi.

5. There are two seasons: NASCAR and football.

In true Midwestern fashion, Indiana weekends are spent indoors, watching ESPN with a Keystone Light on a coaster within arm’s reach. From October through January, this is Colt’s Country. Since the Indianapolis Colts last won the Superbowl in 2007, we haven’t given up hope that this year could be it. Some of us in silence and some in great fits of testosterone, we beg the Lord for just one more yard or field goal so that the Colts will have another chance at winning the season. However, if our team is having a bad day, Indiana fans are happy to switch alliances to whoever has a chance to crush the Denver Broncos, more specifically hoping for an imminent injury to Peyton Manning.

By the time the Superbowl is over, we’re ready to move on to our next sport that is simple enough for anyone to follow: watching cars drive in circles, otherwise known as NASCAR. Most outsiders know Indiana for hosting the Indy 500, but few people in the state care about Indy car racing. Indiana folks remain loyal to the true American sport of stock-car racing. This gives reason to tailgate through the spring, summer, and fall until the season ends in November — although most of us have already switched back to football by then.

6. You’ve forgotten how to use public transportation.

Cars, trucks, and the occasional tractor speckle the roads, but you almost never see a bus. Indiana’s cities aren’t densely populated enough or designed in a way to make public transit a viable option for most people. Unfortunately, the only kind of subway that exists for us is the sandwich shop.

7. You have camouflage everything.

If your camo clothing makes an appearance outside of a hunting trip, you might be giving yourself away.

8. If God isn’t on every corner, it’s not a neighborhood you want to be in.

From small towns to big cities, God is everywhere. There’s a church on every block and as long as you subscribe to Christianity, your spiritual needs will be met. Churches are the epicenter of community and social activities, always doing their best to keep the flock out of trouble. Although the cross may deter Buddhists, atheists, and Pastafarians, consider it a sign that it’s safe to walk around at night.

9. You’re a nicer person.

Waiters, salespeople, even drivers on the road are more considerate and pleasant to deal with in Indiana. We’re a state full of courteous people who go out of their way to hold open doors and make you feel a little more welcome. You can’t help but reciprocate their amiable attitude. It’s a gift to bring with you to your next destination.

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