It’s been a while since we topped any national surveys, hasn’t it? Are you feeling a bit nervous? I’m not; I don’t need external validation from people who write travel blogs. The lists are just fodder for lazy local columnists who want to phone it in this week.
Wait. Let me rephrase that: The lists are invaluable reminders of how we’re seen by the rest of the country, and that’s why I bring two of them to your attention.
The first is a survey, from U.S. News & World Report, which somehow still exists, that says we’re the third best state in the country, all things considered. I don’t mean we get the third-best reception for a popular NPR show. I mean, third best when you factor in cost of living, schools, parks, health, absence of vampire bats, etc.
We would have finished higher but the criteria didn’t include things at which we clearly excel: best place to speak knowingly about lutefisk even though you’ve never had it. Top place to consider telling Marge she put a bit too much pepper in the hot dish. Best state that has a pointy end that jabs into Canada’s white, soft underbelly. Best state that looks like it’s sitting on Iowa, which is literally bulging on the side because we’ve put on a few pounds. It was a long winter. We’ve been meaning to hit the gym.
We can overlook those slights because we don’t need the constant reminders of our greatness from outsiders. We can deliver that ourselves in unstinting quantities.
But there is one new survey from bigseventravel.com that ought to alarm us. It’s a list of the nation’s sexiest regional accents, ranked. And, again, we finished third.
Granted, we’ve got that there thing where we say, “Oh, jeez, dontcha know.” And that’s not as mellifluous as a honeyed Southern drawl or the confident swagger of a Texan. We don’t have the flat twang of the Plains, the laid-back sun-baked addlepated uptalk of a Californian, the staccato bird-chirp of the Pacific Northwest. (OK, I made that one up.)
No. 1 on the sexy accent list was Texas; we can buy that. But which area was second? Boston!
Maybe it’s me, but that accent sounds like I’m being yelled at by drunken sheep. “Paaahk the caaah in Baahstan, it ain’t haahd!” This might be “sexy” to some people who also enjoy licking sandpaper, but whether it’s more alluring than someone from Bemidji who says “Holy cow, they’re having a meat raffle!” is another matter.
Perhaps you’re thinking we can move up if we start talking like JFK impersonators: “I, ah, cahm from the paht of the, ah, Midwest where Hormel, ah, makes Spahm. Which is made from hahm, among other ahnimals, I’m told. Specifically I, ah, live in Minneahpolis, which is the City of Wahter.”
Nah. I don’t think we have to worry. No fertility doctor helping a couple try to conceive says, “Maybe if you tried speaking like the guys on ‘Car Talk.’ ” We can go on being ourselves, content in our high ranking, pleased that our accent at least placed third among sexy voices.
Small detail: We were third ... from the bottom. Of the 50 sexiest voices, we’re number 48.
The good news: people from “Lawnguyland” and “New Joisey” are below us, so your great-aunt from Hinckley probably sounds like Marilyn Monroe to them.