Christopher column 08/22/04

Sunday, August 22, 2004

By Niki Christopher

As a Lawrence resident and liberal Democrat who once attended Kansas University, I consider it an honor and a privilege to be hated by Rush Limbaugh.

I laughed when I heard that he had insulted Lawrence Democrats. I chortled when he dissed KU liberals. I was even mildly amused to learn that some friend of his runs a sports bar in Lawrence, and is no doubt making money hand over fist selling beer and hot wings to wild and randy KU professors who are on hot dates with their students.

But he dug in and twisted the knife when he trotted out that ancient and vile insult that Missourians heading west through Kansas always drive at night because "there's nothing to see out there anyway." Now that hurts. When will Missourians quit rubbing it in?

It's a painful truth that Missouri has plenty that we don't. We don't have quaint little towns like Skidmore, where a local bully was shot down in the street in 1981 in front of half the town's residents, none of whom have spilled the beans yet about who pulled the trigger. There's no town in Kansas that could keep a secret like that. There's too many storm chasers with video cameras running around on this side of the border.

Sadly, the University of Missouri has racked up a lot more NCAA violations than KU has. Catching up to Missouri on this accomplishment could take us a lifetime. And while we're on the subject of the Tigers, it can't be denied that they also take the title as home of more athlete felons than Kansas. We're not likely to take that title back from them any time soon, try as we might.

It's time to face it, fellow Kansans -- we'll never, ever catch up to Missouri on the subject of mud. Kansans have always known -- although they'll rarely admit it -- that Missouri is the mud capital of the world. It has two huge rivers full of it, and hundreds of small ones, too. They even use their county roads to store the surplus. Missouri imports billions and billions of tons of mud every year to keep its record intact. Kansas, which has fought a century-old battle to make Colorado give us the mud to which we are entitled, has no chance whatsoever in catching up to Missouri when it comes to mud. We just can't deny it: Missouri is the champ in the mud category, hands down.

And I think it goes without saying that Missouri must hold some sort of record for having the most tiny towns with names of wonderful and glamorous places, such as Warsaw, Odessa, Mexico, Florida, Carthage, Parma, and California, just to name a few. And their second-largest city is named for a really wonderful place. Those savvy Missourians just knew somehow that "Missouri City" didn't have the right ring. They are some smart folks over there.

It's a literate state, too. Missouri has used more letters of the alphabet than any other state in the Union in naming its roads. Ignorant Kansans, told to "Turn left when you come to BBB Road" have often mistaken helpful Missourians for stutterers. We don't get out much. We Kansans still practice that quaint old custom of giving north-south roads odd numbers, and east-west roads even numbers, and stupidly wonder how Missourians tell whether they are going north or west.

With the vast majority of Kansans still confused over what an "odd" letter might mean, and how you tell whether a letter is "odd" or "even" in the first place (are "even" letters those divisible by B?), we've gotten into the habit of driving up to Nebraska and hanging a right rather than driving directly east. We must concede that Missouri is "D" undisputed king of making inroads into "N" Roads.

Finally, Missouri has two claims to fame that Kansas will never attain, both of which involve the town of Cape Girardeau. Unlike Missouri, Kansas doesn't have a single city named after a piece of clothing. Cape Girardeau's name translates roughly from the French as "Girard's Raincoat." Kansas doesn't have so much as a Light Jacket or a Sweater Vest on the map. Cape Girardeau is also the birthplace of the most famous ignoramus on the airwaves. Although the capital of Kansas lays claim to another famous ignoramus, a homophobic lawyer turned street-corner preacher, our ignoramus isn't as famous as Missouri's ignoramus.

So, admit it, fellow Kansans. Rush is right. Kansas will never catch up to Missouri on some things. We ought to stop trying.

Niki Christopher is a Lawrence resident. Her comments were published in the Lawrence Journal-World.

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