Not perfect, but …

Ready, set, go. The S.D. state bird is the mosquito. The S.D. state tree is the telephone pole. The S.D. state animal is whatever is in the crockpot. The S.D. state flower died. We don’t live at the edge of the world, but you can see it from the water tower. We have people who have studied for, but flunked, blood tests. Our hunting accident victims might survive better, if someone doesn’t field dress them. We always wave at passing motorists, because we might not see anyone else for hours. We are so backward that we sit on our beltbuckles.

We can tell jokes about ourselves, but that doesn’t mean other people can get away with it. I used to fight with my brother as if we were enemies; that is until someone else called one of us a name, then they had him and me to contend with. People in South Dakota must feel the same way. Despite all our gripes and complaints, we still keep on living here. There are those of us who have moved away, though many come back. If an employer on a coastal state sees a resume from South Dakota, everything else being even, the S.D. applicant usually gets the job. We have a reputation for being hardworking, fair, dependable and trustworthy to employers and others.

If this state is so bad, why is tourism such a large industry? If we are so dumb, why are our universities drawing students from other states and countries? If there is nothing but desolation here, why do out-of-state hunters, fishermen, photographers, rodeo enthusiasts, employers, retirees, and wealthy landbuyers flock here? If we are not influential, why do we draw national attention for our political races?

Agreed, we don’t have certain things. Our per-capita numbers concerning murder, AIDS, homeless, riots, tidal-waves and shark attacks are better than the coastal states. We don’t worry as much about armed robbery (we know who Smith and Wesson are). More of us actually know who our fathers are (and those men are proud of us).

We shun beggars, but we quickly offer a helping hand to those who need it. I am proud to say that the most common occurrences of anything triple X is on a really good bowling score. We still consider “shacking up” to be a bad thing rather than a common occurrence. Our teachers display the politically incorrect thing called morals, rather than the slew of weird things called “alternative life-styles.”

South Dakotans know effectiveness. An insult by a big-city gang would be a drive-by shooting. Here, a quiet refusal to shake your hand is an infamous insult. Frankly, I’d rather be shot.

We know beauty. A grizzled rancher cradling his grandchild; sunsets without smog; highways with fewer than eight lanes; a young boy who thinks it natural to hold a door for an senior citizen; a wobbly new-born calf; a losing athlete shaking the winner’s hand.

We can take jokes, because we know we are above them. So, I say, “Did you hear the one about the South Dakotan who ... ?”