With the approach of summer, I once again beckon you to my native New Jersey.
Escape to the beautiful garden state and encounter pleasures you never dreamed of. Here you can shop at fully stocked liquor supermarkets. Here, you'll save 10 to 20 cents a gallon on gas - and you'll never even have to get out of your car to pump the stuff. Here, you can escape discreetly to roadside motels that will happily rent you rooms by the hour. And on top of it all, there's always the unforgettable Jersey shore.
Yes, you can have lots of fun here. But before you begin your journey across the river I must interject a few cautionary notes:
Water. New Jersey sits on a soggy coastal plain, and we're already more than a half a foot over our normal amount of rainfall for the year. So, pack some galoshes and a couple of oars.
After millions of dollars spent on reconstruction and beautification, the aptly named Admiral Wilson Boulevard is still little more than a basin for the quickly-flooding Cooper River, and nearly every town in New Jersey does battle with a rising water table. If you're planning to stay for any length of time you'd be well advised to bring your own goggles and a sump pump.
In fact, flooding has been so bad here lately that our perennial acting governor, Dick Codey, had to declare a state of emergency.
Of course, Codey was acting in place of Gov. Jon Corzine and that leads me to . . .
Roads. New Jersey's major highways are excellent and generally well-maintained with good signs.
What's more, you won't encounter many hills or curves on our highways. Consequently, once you get moving, you may be tempted to accelerate beyond the usual speed limits of 55 or 65 mph.
And you can probably safely exceed the speed limit by as much as 10 mph without being apprehended. In fact, I've noticed a few of you zipping along at 80. But I'm warning you: Don't exceed 90.
You see, that speed is reserved for upper-level state officials (such as the governor) who travel with their own entourage, including a motorcade, flashing lights and state police. Until recently, these very busy and important people haven't been persuaded that they should slow down or even wear their seat belts. But you don't want to do that and you definitely don't want to drive and . . .
Text messages. It seems that the governor's state police driver may have been receiving a text message from another police officer just before the governor's car was involved in a near-fatal accident at 91 mph while the governor was not wearing a seat belt.
The message could have been from another police officer whose wife was reportedly having an affair
with the state trooper who was driving the governor's car. Messy stuff.
Even though we're quite a liberal state and have even legalized civil unions, you need to be careful about such couplings and uncouplings in New Jersey. Things can get nasty. You may remember that our former governor, Jim McGreevey, became the first openly gay person to actually admit he was governor of New Jersey. Then he resigned.
New Jerseyans weren't that upset about all this, but McGreevey's then-wife was not amused. Now McGreevey and his former spouse are fighting over child custody and photos of nude males in the bedroom that McGreevey shares with his new domestic partner. It's gotten so bad that a judge recently had to tell our former governor and former first lady to start using some common sense.
And that's exactly what I'm saying to those of you who are planning to journey to the Garden State this summer: We're happy to have you, but show some common sense.
Pack appropriately. Be prepared for any eventuality. Don't speed. Wear your seat belt. Share the road with state officials. Beware of text messages. And be careful who you hook up with.
After all, we want you back - if only to help pay the bills for the transgressions of those who pretend to be in charge of this place. *