This past summer, my friend Justin lived temporarily in my basement. The basement was never meant for living quarters: The ceiling touched the blond tips of his hair and spiders and other Jurassic era critters roamed the unswept floors. However, rent was cheap. Justin made it work: He hung his clothes on the exposed pipes, installed a Febreze plugin, and hung a Maryland flag on his wall.
If you can't guess, Justin hails from Maryland, and as a geography major, this means something to him. "Maryland's flag is the only flag in the country to look like this," he told me. By that, he means - and I confirmed with Wikipedia - the Maryland flag is the only state flag to be based on English heraldry aka Marylanders say "God bless the Queen, I mean President" as they drink tea with their pinky fingers up.
Justin talked tons about Maryland over the summer. He continually dropped that it was the greatest state, Maryland crabs, yadda yadda yadda. Meanwhile, I've lived in Virginia my entire life, and I lack fondness for the Old Dominion. In fact, I consider it has a has-been state: Our glory days lay behind us in buried presidents (five of them), 1607 colonizations (Jamestown for those of you who failed your history SOL), and Virginia Diner peanuts. Now all we offer are E-ZPass lanes and disgraced governors.
Anyway, I wrote off Justin's Maryland pride as a singularity until I visited him a few weeks ago. The first night of my visit, we ended up at the local watering hole. We sat with several of his high school classmates aka birthright Marylanders. I noticed his female friend wore a necklace with a pendant of Maryland.
"My sister got it for me for Christmas," she said.
"I forgot you all are obsessed with your state," I replied. Oops, alcohol.
"Damn right we are," one of the guys interjected. "I have the flag tattooed on my shoulder."
Even Justin couldn't believe this: "No, you don't!"
"Yeah, I do." Cue the guy showing us the flag tattooed on his shoulder.
Me: You've got to be kidding me.
The birthright Marylanders: "That's awesome!"
Another guy even piped up, "I was thinking about getting it tattooed, too!"
"Justin did have the flag hanging on his wall this summer," I said - as if this compares to having your state emblem burned into your skin forevermore. I wonder if a tat of your state flag gets one out of a speeding ticket.
The tattooed guy replied, "Yeah, it's on my bedroom wall, too." Of course it is.
"It's my phone's background," bested the other guy. And he wasn't kidding.
And yesterday I reminded Justin this blog was coming out. He replied with a Snapchat of him in a Maryland shirt. Seriously?
"I told you," Justin said, "Marylanders love Maryland. There's something about this state."