Jason Offutt

Jason Offutt

Once, while listening to an interview on a nationally syndicated radio show, I finally realized the Midwest, my home, had no chance for respect in the eyes of the country.

I guess I’d known this all my life. I just didn’t want to admit it.

Of all the regions, the Midwest is largely regarded as the redneck cousin who isn’t invited to family dinners. We come uninvited, drunk and usually take our lunch at a fold-up table in the next room.

We don’t do ourselves any favors. During that radio interview, then-U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-Missouri) said, in regard to a point he didn’t agree with, “That dog don’t hunt.”

What? That dog don’t hunt? Come on, Bond graduated from Princeton. He’s obviously an intelligent man despite the handicap of being a U.S. Senator, and he quoted “The Beverly Hillbillies” on national radio? No wonder we get no respect. The Midwest brings it on itself.

The Midwest is composed of 12 states, a few of which make some sort of sense. Like Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota and Wisconsin. Look at a map of the contiguous United States. These states are, you know, in the middle.

So who thought it was a good idea to lump Indiana, Michigan and Ohio in with us? It’s a 304-mile drive from Youngstown, Ohio, to Washington, D.C. Add 85 miles to that drive and you’re sitting on a beach staring at the Atlantic Ocean. We drove farther than that in college for White Castle hamburgers.

Midwest? No way. How about we put those three states in their own region called the Most Polluted States Region. According to CNBC, all three are in the top 10 polluted states in the U.S. Ohio is Number 1. Admittedly this survey was taken a few years ago, but can you really imagine Ohio being less polluted? They are home to the Cleveland Browns after all.

Midwest states get no respect because among us we have the nation’s largest pork producing state (Iowa), which translates to top hog manure producing state, two of the top 10 states with the most DUIs (North and South Dakota are two and three), and three of the top soybean producing states (top three, Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota). These don’t exactly scream “vacation here” (Nebraska was dead last on a recent vacation survey. Kansas, Iowa and North Dakota were in the bottom five).

We Midwesterners need to change this nationwide perception by finding what we’re really good at, such as: 

Illinois: Our roads are always under construction.

Iowa: People running for president show up and say hi.

Kansas: Boyhood home of Lex Luthor.

Minnesota: We’re not just the Vikings. Thank God.

Missouri: Remember that naked man high on methamphetamines driving an ATV the wrong way on a highway? That was us (he was also from my hometown. Props).

Nebraska: Birthplace of Larry the Cable Guy.

North Dakota: It’s legal to hunt prairie dogs. 

South Dakota: We carve things into granite.

Wisconsin: Mooo.

Maybe Midwest states should also brag about our culture, food and natural beauty? 

Na. Nobody cares about substance anymore. That dog don’t hunt.

Jason’s latest book, “Chasing American Monsters,” can be found on his website, www.jasonoffutt.com, or Amazon.

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