“You think there’s not a lot goin’ on/But look closer, baby, you’re so wrong...” - from the theme to Canada’s brilliant “Corner Gas” TV show.
USA TODAY recently reported personal finance website WalletHub’s annual ranking of the most fun states in America.
Using 26 weighted metrics related to entertainment, recreation, nightlife (and those raunchy tattoos that the researchers can’t remember getting), WalletHub compiled its admittedly subjective list.
I don’t mind acknowledging that California and Florida came out on top in the fun competition; but, unlike WalletHub, I will not be so crass as to shame any of the bottom 10. I have readers in many of those fine states, and I know which side my bread is buttered on. (Personal aside to the readers in those states: Guys, if you’d drop the plans for the Which Side Your Bread Is Buttered On Museum, your ranking would probably rise next year. Just saying.)
Despite the presence of Nashville, Memphis and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, my own state of Tennessee ranks a lackluster 23rd. It’s as if the gravitas of “the Volunteer State” has to give way to the clingier “Me! Me! Over here! Pick me!” state.
Along with assessments of average weather and entertainment affordability, WalletHub’s criteria include the number of restaurants, casinos, golf courses, country clubs, gyms, skiing facilities and marinas per capita.
(I’ve always been skeptical of folks who put too much emphasis on “per capita” statistics. Perhaps it matters with the number of emergency rooms or bilingual court officers, but how many people say things like “Darn it! I’m jealous! Residents of my cousin’s state have TWICE as many performance artists per 1,000 harassing them”?)
Some of the “have not” states are cursed by Mother Nature with dreary weather or a scarcity of beaches, but others have only themselves to blame for their unappealing image. Believe it or not, taking whiskey shots only when someone says “antidisestablishmentarianism” is not the stuff of glossy tourism brochures.
It’s more than a little sad that the survey leans toward cosmopolitan amusements while neglecting “Friday night lights” high school football games, church carwashes, impromptu tall-tale-swapping matches and other examples of life’s simple pleasures.
Yes, some residents of “boring” states heed the siren call of flashier states; but others are happy with the simple way of life. I guarantee no one has ever said, “Let’s meet under the bleachers, Janie Belle and - aw, shucks! There’s no ski lift! Just forget it.”
People looking to pick a vacation spot or a state for relocation certainly pay attention to the WalletHub rankings, but the popular states must be very subtle about exploiting the data.
There could be a lot of blowback from an advertising campaign such as “You’ll be swept up by the theme parks, swept up by the dance spots, swept up by the hurricanes” or “Can’t you just see yourself chilling out in a state where all the bored people from dozens of OTHER states are congregating? You’ll want to put your eyes out - and the used hypodermic needles are super available!”
States, you’re all fun in your own way. Don’t overthink it. Although, I am intrigued by the promotional stunt percolating in one of the lower-ranking states. (“We’re initiating an annual ranking of PERSONAL FINANCE WEBSITES! With the loser to be rolled up in the sidewalks at sundown!”)
Danny welcomes email responses at firstname.lastname@example.org and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”