Photo: Josh Greenstein
It’s not tough. We have pretty quick tempers. When polled for this article, my dad said, “We’re always pissed, so you can’t piss us off,” but I think there are ways.
On the accent
First, and this is really important, no one from New Jersey has ever pronounced it, “New Joisey” — not once. Not ever. Fran Drescher may have gone there on The Nanny, but she’s from Queens.
That said, most people from Jersey have some type of accent but love to pretend they don’t, especially if their family has been there for a few generations. I admit to deeply suppressing my accent, and when I have too many jager bombs (I’m sorry, the right amount of jager bombs), I call an orange an “ahrange,” which is a fruit that grows in “Flahridah.” The way I say the word “asshole” is so terrible I can’t even figure out how to spell the sound I make. But do not call me out on it.
If you meet a new friend from Jersey, or their mom, and you can’t tell if they’re doing a Sopranos accent or not, the answer is no, they really talk that way. Don’t tease them. They will get pissed.
On reality TV
Don’t ever tell someone from New Jersey that they remind you of one of the cast of the Jersey Shore. I think the fascination with reality shows about New Jersey stems from the fact that, beneath our perfect hair and tough, lycra-clad exteriors, we’re a very loving people. Deep down, isn’t Snooki a sweetheart? Isn’t the best part about watching those shows that they’re wild but all love each other so much?
If you get someone from New Jersey to love you, they will love you unconditionally. Forever. Especially if you’re family. Good Lord, the family. This is why it pisses us off so much when people say we remind them of one of those table-flipping, spray-tanned, mafia-connected maniacs depicted on TV. A lot of us are those things, of course. But not everyone.
Don’t ever ask someone if the Jersey Shore is “really like that.” We’ll tell you that people on that show didn’t grow up in New Jersey (they’re almost all from out of state), and that it only takes place in a couple of bars in one beach town. We’re much classier than those bozos, and the Jersey Shore is a beautiful place, one of the natural wonders of the world.
The truth is, Jersey Shore was an inaccurate caricature of young people in the state. But I won’t lie to you, I went to high school with a couple of Snookis, and they didn’t build a set to film that show — those people and places exist.
On driving and speed in general
I took an informal poll of my immediate family for this article, and almost all of them get pissed while on the road. Slowpokes in the fast lane, incorrect jughandle use, PBA cards not working during a traffic stop, full parking lots at the mall, traffic in general. We just hate it.
But we don’t only hate slow drivers. Our blood boils anytime we encounter any slowness. If it takes you too long to get our Dunkin’ Donuts, pump our gas, or move out of the way when we’re tailgating you in the fast lane, we get pissed. And since we’re back to driving, don’t ask me what exit I’m from. I hate that.
On the cuisine
Don’t tell anyone from New Jersey that Dominos is your favorite pizza. Let me stop you right there. You’ve never had pizza.
People from New Jersey get pissed when the only food available at 2am is fast food. Where’s the all-night diner? Where’s the Wawa? They also don’t like to be judged for loving porkroll (a processed and fried pork product that’s an integral part of the food pyramid in New Jersey), or eating fat sandwiches, which is a liberal arts minor at Rutgers.
If you’re from South Jersey, you don’t ever want anyone to ask if you’re from North Jersey, which you think is basically New York. If you’re from North Jersey, you don’t ever want anyone to ask if you live in South Jersey, which you think is basically Philadelphia, or worse, Delaware.
If you’re from Central Jersey, like me, you get pissed when people tell you Central Jersey doesn’t exist. It does.
People from Jersey love music from New Jersey, but there are rules. First of all, never fist pump to Bon Jovi ironically. Either do it because you feel great, or don’t do it. Never say you don’t understand why Bruce Springsteen is a big deal. He is literally the boss. Of the state. If you’re lucky enough to go to a Springsteen show, never sit down. Actually, never sit down anytime you hear a Springsteen song, even if it’s karaoke.
At Christmastime, the radio in the New Jersey area plays a special song, not heard elsewhere in the country. Do not make fun of it. We are fiercely proud of the song’s hero, Dominick, the Italian Christmas donkey, who helps out Santa. We love it.
With so many football teams in a small area, you’d think people wouldn’t be dedicated to one team, but put a Giants fan in an Eagles bar or vice versa and there’s going to be a fight.
Don’t ask someone from New Jersey if anyone in their family is in the mob. First, why would I tell you that? And second, I think people say “connected,” not “in the mob.”
Speaking of the mob, don’t tell anyone that Atlantic City is a shittier Vegas. That’s why we like it.
Don’t argue that New Jersey shouldn’t be called the Garden State because one time you took a train from Newark airport to Manhattan and you didn’t see any gardens. Trust me, we’ve got them.
And finally, on Chris Christie
He’s in the news a lot recently. Something about a bridge, something about Hurricane Sandy, something about abuse of power. Here’s what really matters: He says crazy things. Once, when I lived in San Diego, my coworkers and I watched a press conference where he instructed people on how to prep for a hurricane. He looked at the camera and said, pretty calmly, “Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out. You’re done. It’s [looks at watch] 4:30, you’ve maximized your tan.”
The people around me said things like “New Jersey is a foreign country.” Basically, yes, and we love when people think that.