It’s hard to believe, but some people out there don’t think Charleston is the center of the universe.
What’s more, they don’t like smart alecks who act like it is.
And many of these people apparently live in Columbia.
That came through loud and clear in the response to Wednesday’s column, which was an exaggerated snobby Charleston reaction to Columbia’s ranking on Kiplinger’s 2013 list of “Ten Great Places to Live.”
The column poked fun at our capital city and Charleston’s infamous attitude toward pretty much everything that isn’t Charleston. Kiplinger’s didn’t help Columbia’s cause by listing “insurance companies” among its assets instead of, say, No-Name Deli or Rockaway’s.
Which are real treasures.
Some people didn’t see the humor in this ribbing, or the ridiculousness of all these lists in general. Yeah, like Charleston is really the most mannerly city?
That was the point.
The more polite commenters simply requested a cease-fire. Others called the column unfunny, juvenile or proof of our intense jealously of Columbia.
“Like I always say, the best thing about Charleston is it’s only two hours from Columbia,” Matt Woolsey said. “And just remember, like the list says, Charleston is a great place to visit. Columbia is the place to live.”
Others were less, well, reflective. A few readers said I was fat and ugly, and one guy called me a “typical Charleston (jerk)” and hoped that I would get hit by a bus.
Obviously he’s never tried to catch a ride with CARTA.
If he really knew Charleston, he’d realize it’s much more likely to get run over by someone biking illegally on the sidewalk, skateboarding around and avoiding employment, or rushing to catch a cruise ship.
We’ve got history
What some of these folks probably didn’t realize is that, for once, Charleston didn’t fire the first shot.
That came Sunday in The State newspaper, when they speculated on Charleston’s jealousy over their Kiplinger’s ranking. Many of the folks mad about Wednesday’s column said they never saw that.
Well, it attempted to be snarky, too, noting that Charleston might have made the list if “horse poop had been one of the criteria.”
Which is ironic since the biggest horse poop manufacturing plant in the state sits square on the corner of Assembly and Gervais.
Of course, that’s not entirely Columbia’s fault. Charleston contributes more than its share of horse’s rears to the General Assembly line.
Fact is, all the rage stirred up by the column has less to do with a few jokes than the way Charleston has treated Columbia for years.
Think about it:
We colonize South Carolina, then stick Columbia with the Legislature.
We start a war, and their city gets burned down.
We send them a state treasurer, he gets busted for drugs.
Of course, they sent him back with a reality show glorifying our least appealing attributes.
So maybe we’re getting close to even.
One reader got into the spirit of the joke and responded with his own faux praise of Charleston.
“There is nothing like getting away from all of the career-driven, corporate nine-to-fivers around here and go to Charleston, where you’re on island time and don’t have to worry about anything important,” he wrote. “Heck, I have always wanted to move down there but I was never really cut out to be a bartender or an assembly line worker, so I guess I will just have to keep living in Columbia and use Charleston as my playground when I need a break from real life.”
Betty Grandy, who has spent a lot of time here, noted that, “Just because a city has a lot to offer its tourists, does not necessarily make it a good place to live.”
Hmm, we’ve heard that before — but mostly from downtowners who are sick of rickshaws, horse carriages and cruise-ship tourists.
Bottom line, Charleston has looked down its peninsula at Columbia for centuries. So you can’t blame folks for getting their back up about something that sounds so much like that typical Charleston condescension.
As it was intended.
The lesson here is that Charleston isn’t the only place in South Carolina that’s fiercely loyal, or has a quick temper.
So it’s time Charleston quit being so snobby. Next time we start a war — and you know it’s only a matter of time — we need Columbia on our side. They can dish it out, and they clearly love their homeland.
Insurance companies and all.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.