I am a cup-half-full kind of guy. I am a benefit-of-the-doubt, optimist type, which occasionally causes me to misjudge people, situations, and events. Recently on a (very flat) run, I started to wonder if I had massively misjudged the State of Ohio, my current home. I wondered (as I ran along a flat, cornfield-laced, straight-line bike path that never deviated even one degree from a straight line) if I, in my rush to call something “good” and “worthy,” had completely overlooked the fact that Ohio is a pretty terrible state.
It was a fleeting thought, and one that I was afraid to let linger. My love for Ohio is well documented. The Buckeye State has been good to me and my family. Certainly, these evil thoughts were just a moment of weakness. So I just put my head down, closed my eyes, and ambled onward along the long, straight bike path, hoping such a thought–one that was so unwelcome in the cathedrals of my mind–would kindly leave.
But as I ambled on, and the miles jogged by, and the path remained straight and flat, and the corn was still the only thing that saturated my peripheral, the thought returned. I resolved that I would fight this thought with every ounce of my being (which wasn’t much because I was going on three miles at that point). So I started coming up with things that are great about Ohio. Honestly, the list is pretty long. But every time I thought of a great thing about Ohio, I discovered that the same thing was also terrible.
So, to you, my faithful blog readers, I give the unenviable task of deciding if Ohio is great or terrible. Many of these points will undoubtedly offend some of you, but this is nothing more than a thought experiment. Keep in mind as you read this: I LOVE OHIO, AND I AM RAISING MY FAMILY HERE. But, we can have a little fun. Might as well get a controversial one out of the way first…
Great thing about Ohio #1: Ohio is the home of the Ohio State Buckeyes, a perennial powerhouse in several different sports, and its fan base is fanatical and supportive. Everyone is so unified around the success of the Buckeyes–it’s like a big family!
Why it’s also terrible:
- Ohio State fans are among the most insufferable of any in the world. If Ohio State’s football team is ranked outside the top 10 at the beginning of football season, OSU fans take it as a personal affront and make it their personal mission to accost any journalist who dares pick against them in any game (stand up Kirk Herbstreit!).
- Ohio State football and basketball teams perennially get top 10 recruiting classes yet only occasionally finish in the top 10, which means their recruits are perennially underachieving, under-developed, or poorly coached.
- The only reason everyone loves Ohio State football and basketball is because all Ohio’s professional sports teams are so terrible. The Bengals win just enough games every year to get their fans’ hopes up, only to splatter them on the pavement in January. The Browns’ number one signal caller of the last decade and a half was Derek Anderson. Ohio doesn’t even have an NBA tea….oh wait, my bad. Cleveland does have a team called the Cavaliers, but it’s only an NBA team when LeBron–the best player of our generation–happens to be on it.
- Ohio State fans are just Big Ten fans disguised as Ohio State fans, because the moment any Ohio State team is knocked out of contention, Ohio State fans just jump on the bandwagon of whatever Big Ten team happens to be successful that year–even if it means selling their soul to root for the likes of Bo Ryan and Wisconsin.
Great thing about Ohio #2: Ohio is such a pivotal state in every national election, so our votes actually count here. And we produced John Boehner, the last speaker of the house! And we produced more presidents than any other state (eight)!
Why it’s also terrible:
- Have you ever lived in a pivotal state during election season? You can’t watch a half hour TV show without being accosted by at least 3 national candidates, 4 state candidates, and 13 local candidates during the commercials, all vying for your attention and votes. Heaven forbid you have to walk outside your house and see the approximately 15 million campaign signs within a half mile radius.
- There are approximately 43 candidates more representative of what an Ohio person looks, feels and acts like than John Boehner, yet John Boehner (of West Chester fame?) is what everyone thinks Ohioans look, feel and act like. It’s not like all of us go to LA Tan three times a week during the (Siberian-like) winter to keep that healthy glow.
- And those presidents from Ohio? William Henry Harrison (born in Virginia) became the first president to die in office after contracting pneumonia and pleurisy as a result of his own stupidity as his inauguration. Ulysses S. Grant, a lifetime alcoholic, presided over one of the most corrupt and fraudulent presidencies in American history. Rutherford B. Hayes didn’t even win the popular vote, but thanks to the electoral college, presided over a forgettable presidency that ended abruptly when he decided not to run for reelection. James Garfield was assassinated 6 months into his presidency. Benjamin Harrison inherited a huge budget surplus and celebrated by becoming the first president to preside over $1 billion in federal spending. William McKinley was shot by an anarchist, becoming the third Ohio president to die in office. William Howard Taft (save the obvious jokes) was Teddy Roosevelt’s hand-picked successor, only to fail Teddy at every turn and eventually lose his reelection bid after severely fracturing his own party. Finally, Warren G. Harding, one of the first known presidents to have an affair in office, died of cerebral hemorrhage caused by heart disease, becoming the fourth (yes, that’s a full four out of eight) president from Ohio to die in office.
Great thing about Ohio #3: Here in Ohio, we get to observe ALL the seasons. We get to see Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall in all of their glory. Wouldn’t it be terrible to live in a place like San Diego that only gets summer all year round?
Why it’s also terrible:
- Let me describe to you an Ohio winter. You step out of your house and are immediately greeted by howling 35 mph winds because Ohio has no natural topography that would hinder such winds. A stinging wintry mix blasts your face (because good ol’ fashioned snow would just be too easy). It’s about 18.3 degrees. You take every step slowly, because you know you could easily slip to your death with the 3 inches of ice on the ground. You look around and notice….wait, actually that was a mistake. YOU CAN’T LOOK AROUND. It is too cold, windy and icy. You have to look straight down, everywhere you go. And you finally reach your car. It is caked in 2 inches of solid ice. You can’t even open the door. You pull out your ice scraper, and it is as useless as trying to convince an Ohio State football fan that Ohio state just doesn’t have a top 10 team this year. Fifteen minutes later, you finally pry the door open. You drive—nay, cascade–out of your driveway onto the street, only to be greeted by icy roads, traffic jams, and windshield wipers that are, of course, broken because of the aforementioned ice storm. Ohio has perfected the not-enough-snow-to-build-a-snowman-but-just-enough-snow-to-be-inconvenient weather. Oh, and surprise! You have just been notified that your power is out at home. Apparently 3 inches of solid ice wreaks havoc on telephone wires.
- Let me describe to you an Ohio summer. You step out of your house at 7:30 am and are immediately greeted by soul-sucking 94% humidity. You literally stand in your driveway and start sweating. You think that a breeze will come, but it does not. And you wait. And wait. And then come the bugs. They buzz round and round, finding soft, wet, salty places on your skin to land and do their work. You can’t get away from them however hard you try. You want to do outdoor chores, but you figure that you’d rather have your yard look slightly worse than die of overexposure and dehydration. And then you hear the cicadas. They raise their voices in such a cacophony that normal conversation is drowned out. So much for those quiet summer evenings. Ahhh… you finally feel a breeze. What is this sweet relief? Is cooling finally on its way? Your reverie is shattered by actual tornado sirens as black clouds loom in the distance. In a matter of minutes, everything is drowned out by cracks of thunder and incessant lightning and torrential downpours. Yes, the cooling has come. But you’ll be in your house for the rest of the night playing euchre.
- So yeah, I guess the spring and fall are nice.
So yes, I love Ohio, and Ohio is great. But it’s also terrible. Comment below for other states you want me to tackle!