A Fair Shake: The Delaware Experience

My dislike of Delaware living is well known, largely because the things that happen in this “First State” make for really great, sarcastic status updates and tweets. That’s not really my fault. If people here wouldn’t drive with their turn signals on for seven miles, I wouldn’t have so much material at my disposal. If so many people here didn’t smell like a bag of onions, too, I’d have less to riff on. Alas, Delaware is full of negatives and I’ve lambasted this state for every last one of them.

Before I bid Delaware adieu, only to return for its tax-free Apple Store and top-ranked gay beaches, I thought I’d write a fair post about this state. What is about to follow is a list of my dislikes, as well as a fair number of things that Delaware does right. All the naysayers who think I’m just a negative Nancy will now be silenced. I like it that way.

The Benefits

  1. The roads and highways here are so well-maintained, so smooth, so flat, and so free of potholes. Driving in Pennsylvania is like playing a game of Plinko with your car. Ugh.
  2. No sales tax! Low highway tolls! Free car inspections! Living in Delaware is so cheap. It might even be cheaper than living in North Carolina, and that’s saying something. Pennsylvania is a high-tax society, largely because we have nation-leading public schools and universities to fund. Also, the turnpike and SEPTA are a bit needy, financially.
  3. Rehoboth Beach. Oh god, I just love Rehoboth. It’s the quiet, super-gay, charming counterpoint to 25 years of going down the shore all summer. (For those new to the lingo: “Down the shore” refers only to New Jersey’s beaches)
  4. It’s warmer here, it never snows, and I like that. Snow is such a bitch. And cold weather is just not compatible with the guy who was repeatedly crowned Mr. Tannest Guy in the Room while living in Philadelphia.
  5. Boring landscapes. Everything about Delaware, actually, is quite boring. The good thing about living in Flatlandia is that it’s easy on my car’s fuel economy. Oh, 41 miles per gallon on the flat, flat highway? Sure, sure.

The Disadvantages

  1. The schools here are very bad, at all levels. Cashiers can’t count change or tell time. Most people do not speak anything close to proper English (from what I overhear at the Dover “Mall”). It’s…oh god. Bad. Bad, bad.
  2. No one can drive. Literally, no one native to the state of Delaware knows how to properly pilot a vehicle. We’re talking, crooked-parking, turn-signal-on-for-miles, slow-in-the-passing-lane, texting-while-merging bad. I’ve never experienced anything like it. And I’ve been to New Jersey. A lot.
  3. It’s a culinary desert here. No fine dining, no non-American cuisine, no cloth napkins, no candlelight, no servers that know you better than you know yourself. I don’t know why people bother eating out here. I can get the same kind of frustration and mediocre meal by spending 15 minutes in my kitchen on a bad day.
  4. Nothing, nothing, nothing to do. There is no Hersheypark. There is no Dorney Park. There is no city worth visiting. There is no notable festival or anything (the Delaware State Fair does not count, because its main attraction is midgets in tents). If you wanna have a good time in Delaware, go to Pennsylvania.
  5. It’s smelly. The air smells variously of salt or refined petroleum. The people small of refined petroleum, body odor, or brush-once-a-month bad breath. There are exceptions to this rule, but I’ve noticed that the foul-smell quotient here is roughly 40x higher than in PA.

There you have it. Love the roads, hate the drivers. Love the beaches, hate the dearth of landlubbin’ activities. Love the weather, hate that some people still smell like they keep onions in their armpits — even on cloudy, cold days. Delware just isn’t for me, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be back to speed on Route 1, all the way to Rehoboth Beach, to get super-tan and live up to my PA reputation.