Maryland and Virginia will never be mistaken for Texas and Oklahoma, or North and South Carolina. Our two surrounding states actually seem to like one another.
Their histories are not the same. Their economies are not the same. Their politics are not at all the same. But a Marylander talks pretty much like a Virginian, looks pretty much like a Virginian and lives pretty much like a Virginian. When the two state universities meet in football or basketball, no one pretends it's World War III, or some metaphysically meaningful clash of life styles.
But the same can't be said for other pairs of states in this glorious land. One state is forever making pointed jokes at the expense of a neighbor. And the neighbor is forever making even more pointed jokes right back.
This being our national crossroads, I figured it was only a matter of time before a list of state jokes chanced upon my desk. So when the phone rang one day last week, I wasn't surprised.
My source was a guy who works on the Hill. He says he has worked for duly elected servants of the people from 16 states. He says he has heard every state joke ever swapped at a Hyatt Regency fund raiser or the National Airport baggage claim. But he says I can't identify him or he'll be looking for Job No. 17.
"Call me Deep Joke," he suggested.
It's a deal, D.J. Here's The List you so lovingly assembled over lo these many years. One disclaimer: The insults that follow do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the management of this here column.
Texas against Arkansas: Who has a beard, wears a dirty white robe and rides a pig? Lawrence of Arkansas.
Vermont against New Hampshire: In New Hampshire, what do they call a handsome, intelligent man? A tourist.
Mississippi against Louisiana: What do they call a Louisianan with an IQ of 90? Governor.
Pennsylvania against New Jersey: Why is it so difficult to walk across the state of New Jersey? It's hard to hold your nose that long.
Georgia against Florida: Why did they have to close down the Florida state library system? Somebody stole both books and only one of them had been colored in.
New Mexico against Oklahoma: What do they call an Oklahoman with indoor plumbing? Kinky.
Tennessee against West Virginia: What do West Virginians call a pair of K mart shopping bags? Matched luggage.
Oregon against California: What happened the day God had a bad dream? Los Angeles.
Connecticut against New York: In New York, what do they call someone who is cheerful, polite and helpful? An out-of-towner.
Montana against Idaho: Why do they drink less Kool-Aid in Idaho than in any other state? Because Idaho residents can't figure out how to fit two quarts of water into that little envelope.
And finally, Colorado against Nebraska: Why do they have artificial turf at the University of Nebraska football stadium? So the cheerleaders won't be tempted to graze at halftime.
So there you are, Deep Joke. Your collection in public, for all to see. But which state did D.J. once call home?
"I'm not going to tell you," said The Man With The List. "It was a nice home state, and I don't want anyone making terrible jokes about it."
If I know Washington, D.J., someone already has.
Seldom do I rise to the defense of lawyers. After all, they're paid to rise to the defense of others. But a letter from Alison Smith of Northwest has pushed my UNFAIR button but good.
"At most Metro stops," she writes, "riders wait for the people inside the train to get out before they attempt to get in. But at the Farragut stations [Farragut West and Farragut North], the people outside the train are pushing and shoving before the train even comes to a stop.
" . . . .What makes these particular people so rude? I have come to the conclusion that it must be something about the environment they work in, or perhaps the jobs they do. What is the highest concentration of jobs in this area? I suspect it may be, and I hesitate to say this:
Understandable suspicion, Alison. But a wrong suspicion by a long shot.
The most recent study of employment patterns in the vicinity of the Farraguts shows that secretaries and service workers outnumber lawyers by about 5-to-1 each.
So those pinstriped pushies you're noticing might be lobbyists. They might be computer programmers. They might be real estate brokers. They might even be (pause for gasps) journalists.
If they are lawyers, Alison, they are that rarest form: Poor ones. Once a lawyer gets his name on the letterhead, my guess is that he starts aiming for taxi stands, not Farecard machines.