The mysteries of Jersey

A Russian spy ring was arrested in suburban New Jersey a few weeks ago, and the CIA is still trying to figure out how much damage they may have done to the United States. As opposed to the kind of damage regular New Jerseyans do to the United States. What kind of information they were passing on to their Russian spymasters is still sketchy, but the transcripts of some of their communications have just been released.

“Hey, you told us that New Jersey was called the ‘Garden State.’ Was that some kind of joke? Like the way we call Russia ‘democratic’? If this is the Garden State, what in Lenin’s name do they call Hawaii? We’ve been here for almost 20 years, and I’ve probably only learned 20 secrets. One secret a year. You want to know the secret to finding a good parking spot at the Paramus Mall? Here it is: You drive around for, like, three hours. That’s how long it takes to find an empty spot right in front of The Cheesecake Factory or the Men’s Wearhouse. When are we going to get something like the Men’s Wearhouse in Moscow? It’s fantastical. You can buy name-brand suits at half price. The prices are so low, it’s almost like communism. Except they really have the suits. And you don’t look fat and dumpy like Khrushchev or Yeltsin when you wear them.

“I’m enclosing the secret formula for Grey Goose vodka. I love this stuff. It’s how I start my day. I think a good advertising slogan for it would be: ‘Won’t Make You Go Blind Like the Government Stuff.’ Catchy, no? We learned a thing or two about advertising while living here, too. Also, I’m passing along the plans for Newark International Airport. These plans were very hard to get, as the secret to Newark Airport was that it was not built from a plan. They just started pouring concrete wherever there was a flat space. Here’s a shot of it from Google Earth, which was invented by a Russian, as you know – like the automobile and the airplane.

“You want to know the secret to driving 85 mph on the New Jersey Turnpike? Text with one hand and make rude gestures with the other. If you haven’t cut off or cursed at three or four other drivers each mile, you’re doing it wrong. Use the horn when you would normally use the brake. If you are not in a hurry, why are you driving?

“There are some secrets we never did discover – like why do the New York Giants play in New Jersey? And how do you get season tickets? We have no one to ask. It is very hard to meet normal Americans here. In Moscow, everybody knows everything about everybody. In New Jersey, no one knows anything about anybody. Nobody seems to care that I never go to work, as long as I don’t have crabgrass on the lawn. Since crabgrass is a Russian invention designed to make Americans crazy, it is no problem for us to keep lawn nice. Keep sending the antidote.

“Are you sure there are better secrets to be discovered in San Francisco or San Diego? I hear San Diego has the best secrets. Or Hawaii. I’m telling you, Hawaii is just loaded with secrets. Big, huge, honking secrets – especially in Maui.

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at

Copyright 2010, United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

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