Aug. 8, 2005: Even With Water, Georgia is Still the Greatest State

Recently, I gave you 10 reasons that it is great to be a Georgian. It turns out that a couple of the reasons may have to be restated in the interest of total accuracy. Otherwise, I could lose my certification as a politically correct, non-controversial, modest and much-beloved columnist.

An émigré from “middle America” who says he is “looking for a reason to feel better” about his move to Georgia (insert joke here) has informed me that my assertion that Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi is, well, not totally correct.

I should have said that Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi in terms of land mass. If you add water, it seems that we drop in the rankings to somewhere between Arizona and Albania. The reader believes it important that I clarify this for those of you who having been waving my column in front of strangers and gloating about where you live. I have no problem doing that, although I’m not sure why we have to count water since nothing lives in it but catfish and Killer Rabbits. With a little more thought, however, it dawned on me that if you had read the earlier column and didn’t know about all the water in the state, I would be responsible if you stepped smack dab into the middle of Lake Blackshear thinking you were in downtown Bainbridge. You would never forgive me, particularly if you had to walk around all day in wet underwear.

Later in the column I bragged, “We could put all of New England in any one of our counties.” Absolutely inaccurate, says the letter writer. According to him, Rhode Island, the smallest of the New England states (I’m not sure if that is with or without water), couldn’t fit in Ware County, the largest county in Georgia. Dang. And I was so sure of that one. In my defense, I made that statement while all of New England was under four feet of snow (this past June, as I recall) and I could not get accurate measurements. That doesn’t matter to the reader. He wants a retraction. Okay. Here goes: None of the teeny-tiny states of New England can fit in Ware County, and even if they could, I don’t think the county would have a single one of them because everybody in New England talks loud like Howard Dean. A lot of them put butter on their sandwich bread instead of mayonnaise, and they don’t drink sweet tea.

Fortunately, the other points of pride listed in the column seem to have passed muster — like our being one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, due to the fact that Middle Americans and others are moving to Georgia with their keen and well-developed senses of humor. But not all our newcomers appreciate just how good they have it in our great state. One reader from New Jersey sent me 10 reasons that living in New Jersey is just as great as living in Georgia. (Insert joke here.) She failed to mention the best reason: The Woman Who Shares My Name was born there, but she didn’t stay there long enough to learn to butter her sandwich bread. One example the reader cited for why life is good in New Jersey is that they “don’t shoot their dogs when they are sick or hurt.” I think that is absolutely wonderful. So does Sheila the Family Wonder Dog, who is already shopping for a condo in Newark.

I am glad to correct these grievous errors. To be sure it never happens again, I have gone from one end of this state to the other over the past several weeks, recalibrating my geometric ratios, tangents and common denominators, ensuring that the dimensions of the state and each county are accurately measured down to the last loblolly pine. It hasn’t been easy. Just as I finished measuring Hall County, I forgot about all the water in Georgia and fell in Lake Lanier.

Writing columns in wet underwear is a bummer.