Holten: North Dakota might be a Southern state
Guess what, North Dakota? You might be a Southern state!
That's right. If this was 1861 and Southern states were once again voting to secede from the union, North Dakota might be one of them.
Of course, that excludes anything having to do with location, accents, humidity and slavery, the latter of which thankfully no longer exists. But aside from that, we have much more in common with Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Missouri than Massachusetts, New York, Illinois or Maine. If you don't believe me, take a few moments to explore the facts.
Fortunately there are a lot of meters that exist to measure everything from temperatures and barometric pressure to humidity, blood pressure, electrical usage and alcohol consumption. So naturally there is a 20-question test that officially designates you as a candidate to become a Southern state.
Therefore, if a large enough percentage of us can answer "yes" to at least 15 of the following 20 questions, we can officially make the grade to become a Southern state. But why do we want to become a Southern state? Because we like fiddles, country music, growing things, cowboy hats and country fried steak. So why not?
Here we go. You might be a Southern state if ...
1) There are still Dale Earnhardt tributes on cars in your state.
2) You catch yourself saying "those damn outsiders are taking over our roads, highways, towns and neighborhoods."
3) Your family has fried chicken at least once a week.
4) Your granddaddy often wore overalls and your grandma usually wore an apron.
5) In the summer, you often have homegrown tomatoes with meals.
6) Most men consider deer hunting season a national holiday.
7) It is considered a traffic jam when 10 cars are waiting to pass a tractor or oil truck on the highway.
8) Your kids ride the school bus an hour each way.
9) You've switched from heat to air conditioning in the same day.
10) You've seen a car running in the parking lot with no one in it, no matter what time of the year it is.
11) When you are asked how your trip was to any foreign place, you say, "It was different."
12) You carry jumper cables in your car.
13) You know what "cow tipping" is.
14) You dip or someone in your family dips.
15) You know a girl that dips.
16) You use the word pop to refer to a lot of things, including soda.
17) You clean your fingernails with a knife.
18) You own more than three shirts with cut-off sleeves.
19) Your Christmas lights are still up.
20) And you include a truck stop, mailbox, elevator or abandoned vehicle when giving directions.
Of course, there are other obvious indicators. For example, is your state considered a gun state? Are your elections just a popularity contest because there is little difference between political parties? Do you upgrade your grill every year? Is your license plate too dirty to read? And is a bottle of beer usually one dollar cheaper than what a traveling insurance salesman pays for it in Minneapolis or Cleveland?
Then there are the extreme examples. For example, does your daughter's child live with you? Does your new bride seldom wear shoes in the summer? Do more than 50 percent of men in this state wear cowboy or steel-toed work boots? Are there more pickup trucks than cars? And is the largest percentage of pickup trucks white?
This is in no way meant to degrade Southern states because, quite frankly, I have spent a lot to time in places like Chicago, New York and Philadelphia and, thankfully, there is nothing about those places that resembles Bismarck, Dickinson or even Fargo, which only thinks they are Minneapolis.
The ultimate test, however, is if you can get away with the most awful kind of insult as long as you preface it by saying, "Well bless his or her heart, but ... did you know that ..."
That's the ultimate test.
Holten the managing editor of The Drill, which is a part of Forum News Service. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.