But what's the best state if you want to travel through and have some nice, random conversations with strangers — where they won't just be polite and pretend they like you because that's the right way to act or because they want your business, but where they truly openly and easily just go right ahead and roll right into a conversation about any number of things, not boring you with their life story or problems or anything like that, but laughing at your little observations and offering up little morsels of things they happen to know? I'm going to say: Indiana!
ADDED: All this talk of Indiana made me want to dig out this passage from Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle":
Crosby asked me what my name was and what my business was. I told him, and his wife Hazel recognized my name as an Indiana name. She was from Indiana, too.
"My God," she said, "are you a Hoosier?"
I admitted I was.
"I'm a Hoosier, too," she crowed. "Nobody has to be ashamed of being a Hoosier."
"I'm not," I said. "I never knew anybody who was."
"Hoosiers do all right. Lowe and I've been around the world twice, and everywhere we went we found Hoosiers in charge of everything.
"You know the manager of that new hotel in Istanbul?"
"He's a Hoosier. And the military-whatever-he-is in Tokyo . . ."
"Attaché," said her husband.
"He's a Hoosier," said Hazel. "And the new Ambassador to Yugoslavia . . . "
"A Hoosier?" I asked.
"Not only him, but the Hollywood Editor of Life magazine, too, And that man in Chile . . ."
"A Hoosier, too?"
"You can't go anywhere a Hoosier hasn't made his mark," she said.
"The man who wrote Ben Hur was a Hoosier."
"And James Whitcomb Riley."
"Are you from Indiana, too?" I asked her husband.
"Nope. I'm a Prairie Stater. 'Land of Lincoln,' as they say."
"As far as that goes," said Hazel triumphantly, "Lincoln was a Hoosier, too. He grew up in Spencer County."
"Sure," I said.
"I don't know what it is about Hoosiers," said Hazel, "but they've sure got something. If somebody was to make a list, they'd be amazed."
"That's true," I said.
She grasped me firmly by the arm. "We Hoosiers got to stick together."
"You call me 'Mom."'
"Whenever I meet a young Hoosier, I tell them, 'You call me Mom."'
"Let me hear you say it," she urged.
She smiled and let go of my arm. Some piece of clockwork had completed its cycle. My calling Hazel "Mom" had shut it off, and now Hazel was rewinding it for the next Hoosier to come along.
Hazel's obsession with Hoosiers around the world was a textbook example of a false karass, of a seeming team that was meaningless in terms of the ways God gets things done, a textbook example of what Bokonon calls a granfalloon. Other examples of granfalloons are the Communist party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the General Electric Company, the International Order of Odd Fellows--and any nation, anytime, anywhere.
As Bokonon invites us to sing along with him:If you wish to study a granfalloon,
Just remove the skin of a toy balloon.
IN THE COMMENTS: EDH says:
I'm from Massachusetts, and if you ask me, the people around here are too god damn friendly.
So, I don't know where all these bastids get the silly idea that people from Massachusetts aren't friendly.
What the fuck are you look'n at?