Which state is better: Maryland or Virginia? Washington Post bloggers square off.
By Tom Jackman and Michael Rosenwald,
Perhaps it started during the Civil War, when they took opposite sides.
For whatever reason, Maryland and Virginia have a rivalry as long and deep as the Potomac River that divides them, and control of which they’ve fought over. “Given the ideological split,” lobbyist Charlie Davis once told The Post, “God probably got it right putting the Potomac where it is.”
“Virginia is for Lovers” was met by “Maryland is for Crabs.” Virginia welcomes “y’all”; Maryland calls you “hon.” Virginia bans gay marriage; Maryland allows it. Virginia taxes cars; Maryland taxes, well, everything. Virginia discourages unions (the professional ones, not just the gay ones); some observers say Maryland is run by them.
Post bloggers Mike Rosenwald (Rosenwald, Md.) and Tom Jackman (The State of NoVa ) got together for a beer in neutral territory, a bar in the District, and immediately began comparing their respective states. Things started off politely enough. But gradually, the conversation turned, and the insults began to fly. The exchange went something like this:
Tom (Va.): Hey, Mike, sorry I’m late. Didn’t want to give up my parking spot on the Beltway there at Tysons Corner.
Mike (Md.): Well, at least you didn’t have to dodge the speed cameras, since Virginia doesn’t have them. In Maryland, even our speed cameras have cameras, to prevent vandalism.
Tom: Don’t feel too bad. Virginia is always devising new forms of Traffic Hell. Now we’ve built HOT lanes. This means you can pay good HOT money to sit in traffic. But only on the Virginia side, I guess. In Maryland, you can sit in traffic for free.
Mike: Not true! I pay $6 on the new Intercounty Connector for the advantage of bypassing the Beltway and cutting a whole six minutes off the time it takes to get to my in-laws’ in Baltimore. Why does it cost so much?
I think it’s because the underpasses have dark, luxurious bricks. Officials call them “earth-toned.” The road is basically an extension of Whole Foods, with Whole Foods prices.
Tom: On the inner loop in Virginia,
I have seen people take up smoking, become addicted and then quit all in one trip. We call this showing state spirit.
Mike: Well, tobacco always has been important to Virginia.
Tom: Yup. Just look at our great monument, the towering cigarette shrine outside the Philip Morris plant on I-95 in Richmond. We are here to fill all your tar and nicotine needs.
Mike: Don’t feel too bad. At least you have decent wine to enjoy along with those cancer sticks. You have almost four times as many wineries as we do, and they turn out a better product. Maryland vintages are lucky to be labeled “table wine.” And if you want to buy wine in a grocery store over here, you will basically have to amend the state constitution.
Tom: You know, if we were meeting at a bar in Northern Virginia, I could keep my handgun legally stuffed in my pocket. Just in case some drunk, or Orioles fan (or are they the same thing?), wanted to give me some lip. Are there any bars over in Maryland where I can pack heat?
Mike: No. We prefer to settle our disputes by lobbing insults, sometimes on our license plates, such as that Redskins fan’s CWBYSUK tag, which made the news a few months ago.
Tom: And I thought it was Virginians who were the gentlemen.
Mike: Besides, we don’t have that many bars anymore, as you probably define them. We’ve grown out of them. We have tasting-menu places, though. They serve a lot of artisanal, locally grown haricots vert. So, you might not be able to pack heat, but you can pack wine. The corkage fee is about 10 bucks.
Tom: They charge you $10 to take the cork out of the bottle? If we still used corks, that would really hurt. Twist-off technology has taken root here in the Old Dominion. After all, we’re classy. Look at Michaele Salahi. First, she went uninvited to a White House state dinner, then she was a “Real Housewife,” then she dumped her wannabe winemaker husband for an over-the-hill Journey guitarist. Thankfully, she left the state, but we’re still stuck with her ex, Tareq Salahi, who, get this, is running for governor.
Mike: Hey, you have the Salahis. We have Dan Snyder. In classiness terms, he makes Michaele Salahi look like Condoleezza Rice.
Tom: At least you have Snyder’s Redskins. We have them only for practice and office space. Oh, and on our roads, because they mostly live over here, where they keep our cops tied up issuing traffic tickets and arresting them when they get out of their trucks to punch someone in the face.
Mike: That reminds me. I’ve been meaning to ask you what’s it like to not have a major professional sports team. You know what other state doesn’t have a pro team? North Dakota. Also, Idaho.
Tom: Virginia had a pro team once, the Virginia Squires of the ABA. Dr. J and George Gervin played for them. But there was not enough cocaine in all of Virginia for the Squires, so they folded. That was never a problem for Maryland, where the Bullets spent many years.
Mike: Speaking of crime, your major export, according to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is guns. Are you trying to get rid of them because you secretly agree that they’re sort of, oh, ... deadly? Over here, the subject of guns is generally limited to conversations such as: “Did you know the NRA is based in Virginia?” Reply: “Oh, my God. It makes sense if you think about it.”
Tom: What does Maryland export? Chickens to China? If some drunk doesn’t kill 70,000 chickens at once, as happened this summer. You wouldn’t catch a Virginian doing that.
Mike: But you have no compunction about killing criminals.
Tom: You’re right, we do excel at that. Why do you think that, when the D.C. snipers were arrested, they were sent to Virginia for prosecution, though they did most of their killing in Maryland? Because we get the job done. Seven years later, John Muhammad was dead. Proposed motto: “Virginia: You Kill Us, We’ll Kill You Back.”
Mike: You already have a bloodthirsty motto: Sic semper tyrannis. I looked it up. It means, “Thus always to tyrants.” I wonder: Is that why you allow guns in bars?
Tom: Yes, though if you want to mirror the motto, you want to use a sword, not a gun, to stab the offender then stand on his chest. That’s the image on our state seal and state flag, a woman with a sword standing on someone’s chest. But it’s got character, at least. Your flag looks like a second-grader threw up on a spinning paint wheel. What is that thing? And your motto is “Fatti maschii parole femine.” Know what that means? “Manly deeds, womanly words.”
Mike: It’s our unofficial state motto. And don’t start with me about manliness. You guys love bragging about being patriots and about your eight presidents. But I never hear a peep about William Henry Harrison, the Virginian who didn’t wear a hat in the cold rain during his inauguration. He caught a bad cold and died 31 days later. Embarrassed?
Tom: I’ll take eight presidents, including the founders of our country, over zero. Maryland hasn’t had any presidents because its top politicos — Marvin Mandel, Spiro Agnew,Jack Johnson, Jack Johnson’s wife — get indicted first. Your state motto should be “Maryland: You wanna play, you gotta pay.”
Mike: Speaking of playing, at least you can gamble in Maryland. The only gambling Virginia has is under-the-tailgate betting at those Gold Cup horse races held outside in a giant pasture, where you have to wear weirdly large hats or pants with suspenders.
Tom: You do more than gamble. You’re trying to make gaming a new Maryland sport. But your casinos have electronic blackjack tables, where cards are dealt on a screen by an avatar. Who is going to leave West Virginia for that?
Mike: I have one word for you: “Macaca.”
Tom: And the blurter of that word promptly lost an election he had in the bag. Maybe he was taking tips from William Donald Schaefer, who was never shy with an insult. He called one of his opponents Old Mother Hubbard.
Mike: Okay, enough about politics. As a fat guy, I want to talk about food. For a “Southern” state, your barbecue isn’t that good. Actually, I’ve squeezed better barbecue sauce out of a McDonald’s packet.
Tom: What? Virginia’s got all sorts of great food, in addition to our Chesapeake Bay crabs, which I’m told they have in Maryland, too. We’ve got the world-famous Smithfield ham, the renowned Virginia peanut, our 200-plus wineries and many great apple farms. Virginia is one of the biggest apple-producing states in the nation, and Winchester is called “the Apple Capital of the World.” Farther east, we’ve got great seafood. Farther west, we’ve got great moonshine. And you’ve got ... crabs.
Mike: Yeah, well, if your state is as tasty as you allege, then why is your official state beverage ... milk?
Tom: Nice try, Food Boy. So is yours.
Mike: Okay, why do Virginians insist on making Maryland kids envy Virginia kids? I mean, why would my kid like your kid if your kids don’t go back to school until after Labor Day?
Tom: We don’t see any use in overdoing the whole “education” thing. So, we’ve passed a law that public school cannot start before Labor Day, which allows folks plenty of time to pay good money to have their stomachs upset on the rides at Kings Dominion. An amusement park vs. school. C’mon, if you were a child, which one would you choose?
Mike: There’s that word “dominion” again. Old Dominion, Kings Dominion. You guys seem to have a strange affinity for it, considering that you lost the Civil War.
Tom: You mean the War Between the States? Maybe. But y’all lost the tourism battle. Thousands of people have flocked to Prince William County the last two summers to re-create the spectacle of our Southern soldiers scoring upset victories over the visiting team from the United States in the first and second Battles of Manassas.
Mike: Don’t you mean first and second Bull Run? The winner gets to name the battles, you know.
Tom: Whatever they’re called, we’re making money off them. We like to look on the bright side of trying to start our own country. It’s called leveraging our losses.
Mike: Leverage. Isn’t that the favorite term of every U-Va. biz school grad? I heard that word a lot during the financial crisis, which reminds me: Why do you guys foreclose on houses so fast? Is this another feature of “Sic semper tyrannis”?
Tom: Maybe in Maryland it’s okay to buy a house you can’t afford, not put a dime down, then squat there indefinitely. In Virginia, however, we discourage that. As a result, our economy is moving on, while Maryland’s languishes. I’ll take moving over languishing.
Mike: Let’s get back to tourism. Every time I see a “Welcome to Virginia” sign, the seventh-grader in me wants to point out the word “virgin” in Virginia.
Tom: Is that the best you can do? This is turning into a rout. Sorta like the Battles of Manassas, both the original and the rematch.
Mike: You mean Bull Run.
Tom: Fine. Whatever. I’m tired.
I’m possibly also out of material.
Mike: Me, too. I mean, using “virgin” as an insult? That was just weird.
Tom: I’m going home.
Mike: See you in traffic.
Tom: Watch out for those speed cameras.
What are your thoughts about the differences between Maryland and Virginia? Comment below.