How can it be twelve years have elapsed without my blog offering assistance to readers interested in fortifying their New Jersey bona fides? To help rectify this oversight, treat the guidelines below - re attitude, directions, food, and music - as counsel from someone who has lived here for all but four months of his seventy-three years. Without these bona fides - be you resident, occasional visitor, or someone considering moving here - you could get caught short.
Attitude: Learn immediately and embrace completely the ethos of going all Jersey on someone when necessary. This applies to situations where someone acts rude or disrespectfully toward you. It can be especially helpful in customer service interactions, when in a queue, or in visits to Motor Vehicles.
Directions: Understand no self-respecting Jerseyan identifies themselves via their exit on the Garden State Parkway. It's acceptable to use those exits when asking for or giving directions but never identify a person by using their exit number. Pat does not live at Exit 98; he lives in Brielle, which happens to be near Exit 98. Violating this guideline could earn you a visit from Silvio, Tony, or Paulie. If that trio is unfamiliar to you, remedial work is required.
Food: Although bagels are a major food group in New Jersey, be careful about recommending a bagel shop to any lifelong resident, like say, me. Also remember Taylor ham is alternatively called pork roll and is the preferred meat to put on a bagel, provided the bagel originated in a properly vetted shop.
Music: Remember: The Boss did not compose Jersey Girl; Tom Waits did. If you need to ask who the Boss is, you've already wasted your time reading this far. In addition - with no disrespect to the Boss - he is only one of many great musicians New Jersey has produced. Start with Count Basie and learn several other names. Fortify those bona fides.
Your turn. If you are a longtime resident of my beloved home state, please offer to my readers one or more of your guidelines. Be as cheeky as you like. Longtime residents of one of the other forty-nine: If you feel inclined, please weigh in with some guidelines for your state to help me and others. Finally, any reader who loved Zach Braff's valentine called Garden State (2004) contact me here or offline. I want to talk with you about that film and all the things that make New Jersey special, bona fides aside.