I was in the car, on my way to visit some family friends in Southern Jersey, when I decided to pass the time by trying to name all 50 states from memory. (I was clearly very, very, very bored.) I started on the west coast with Washington, made my way down to Texas — not forgetting to give Alaska and Hawaii the shoutouts they deserve — until I finally ended with Florida.
"That's only 49 states," my younger sister, who I didn't realize was keeping count, piped up.
"What? No way. I definitely named all of them."
"No, you're missing one."
With furrowed brows, I whipped out a map of the United States that I conveniently keep in the folds on my brain and swept the country from west to east and again from east to west.
"No, you said that."
"Oklaho... No, I remember saying that. Oh! Iowa?"
"Nope," said my sister as she made an extra effort to pop the "p," clearly enjoying herself at my expense.
This pattern went on for some time until I went through at least seven more states.
"Okay, I give up. Which state did I miss?"
She smiled at me. That smile someone gives you when they know something and you don't and it shrouds them in an annoying aura of power and control, and my curiosity was tense with anticipation.
"You forgot Kansas."
"Kansas? Kansas?! Are you kidding me?" I exclaimed getting more and more exasperated. "You know what, no. I'm even surprised I forgot Kansas. Who gives a fuck about Kansas?"
"Maybe the people living in Kansas."
Ignoring her, I reclined my seat back and festered in my own pool of petty anger. To be completely honest, I've never been a huge fan of the Midwest. Actually, that's not the right way to put it: I absolutely hate the midwest, and Kansas is the state I hate the most. Almost every other Midwestern state has at least some purpose: Wisconsin has cheese, Illinois has Chicago, Ohio — a state I care about so little that I didn't even realize is right next to Pennsylvania until two days ago — was the state where the hit show "Glee" was based on, Iowa looks like a face with a big nose, and Minnesota people have those funny accents doncha know? Even Wyoming has Yellowstone National Park. But what does Kansas have? Absolutely nothing.
No doubt people have called me callous for openly expressing my strong opinions toward Kansas. What did Kansas ever do to me? Obviously, it hasn't really done anything. It isn't capable of such a thing being so useless and all. It's sheer presence just offends me and I can barely cope with the fact that I have to acknowledge it as a legitimate state rather than a stain on the map of America that no one bothered to wipe up.
I try to spread my anti-Kansas ideologies whenever I get the chance, so naturally, the topic had come up during dinner on more than one occasion.
"You know, Lauren, if you're a doctor and you live in Kansas, you'll make a lot more money than if you stay on the east coast," my dad would say as he shoveled a glob of spaghetti into his mouth.
"Not even if you made a million dollars a year?"
"Not even if they made me the queen and gave me a stupid corn-shuck crown to wear."
Sometimes I think I'm too hard on Kansas. Sometimes I think that I'm just too quick to judge it without really getting to know it. Sometimes I think, "maybe it isn't such a bad place after all." But then I laugh because I know that just isn't true. Nevertheless, whenever the topic comes up, my friends try to convince me otherwise:
"It's nice and quiet there!"
Translation: it's boring and there's nothing to do.
"Everything is slower there. Less fast-paced."
Great, I'll be surrounded by slow walkers and people who take five minutes to say one sentence. How annoying is it when people draw out their words? I seriously just want to take a remote control and hit fast-forward. When scientists invent something like that, let me know.
"You know that it's the largest producer of wheat in the United States, right?"
Well if you do your research, North Dakota and Montana are not far off, so I think we can afford to lose Kansas. Worse comes to worst, the United States could become gluten-free, and that is a sacrifice I would be willing to make. Just an FYI, I am a huge bread and baked-goods lover, so if this sacrifice doesn't give you a hint as to how much I hate Kansas, I don't know what else will.
"They have some attractions I think..."
Yes, because the world's largest ball of twine is definitely something I need to see before I die. I think I'd rather see the world's largest model tire in Michigan.
"Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was from Kansas!"
I am entirely convinced that L. Frank Baum made Dorothy from Kansas for the sole purpose of getting her out of there. Why she wanted to go back, I have no idea. Perhaps she hit her head a little too hard when she was dropped by the tornado.
Impromptu acrostic poem time:
Kansas can kiss my ass
And lick my filthy shoes
Nothing there but corn and cows
Standing bored and blue.
Anyone who disagrees
is now officially dead to me.
That was fun. By the way, did you know that scientists did a study comparing the topography of Kansas against that of a pancake from IHOP and found that Kansas was significantly flatter? Conclusion: Kansas is so goddamn boring that even the state itself is deflated. The only semi-interesting thing about Kansas is the stupid rules it has, which is less of a compliment and more of an insult towards their state government. For example, it is illegal to hunt whales in Kansas, even though it is located in the middle of the country with no coastline in sight. It's also illegal to shoot rabbits from motorboats and sing the alphabet on the streets at night. What the fuck, Kansas?
Call me a bread-basket hater, call me a prick, but I stand by what I'm saying here. I will never like Kansas, I will never visit Kansas, and I will never listen to anyone who tries to convince me otherwise. It's a rundown, corn-infested, tornado-plagued, good-for-nothing state — an ugly, patched-up mistake in the beautiful tapestry that is America. And if you're still not convinced, urban legend has it the Gates of Hell reside hidden in the Stull United Methodist Church in Kansas. Kansas is literally where you go to enter Hell. Just think about it.