Congratulations, Columbia — you can hold on to that title for one more year.
Yes, Charleston’s numbers suggest we’re already a few thousand residents larger, but the Census hasn’t caught up yet. Its most recent count, from way back in July, says you’re still 1,200 people ahead.
So the crown is yours ... for now.
That’s a lucky break. It’s not often Wile E. Coyote beats the Road Runner. And you’ve had “beep beep” with a Lowcountry twang ringing in your ears for years. Sorry about that.
But we’ll let you in on a little secret: We’d like to help you win this one.
See, we’ve got enough people here and, as much as we’d like another trophy, our shelf is pretty full.
Kind of like our roads.
You don’t know what a burden it is being the popular kid. Best Tourist Destination, Most Mannerly (retired), Most Beautiful, Greatest City in the History of Mankind — there are so many, we forget.
Biggest? Eh, not that big a deal.
Overtaking you in population sounds nice, but frankly we don’t need the by-product of winning (more people).
So we’d like to offer you some advice for staying on top. It’s sort of what the Most Charitable City Ever does.
You know, help the less fortunate.
Was that rude? Sorry, that’s us: Snottiest City South of Cambridge, 2012.
It’s a curse, really, all these superlatives.
The obvious route to greater population is to emulate us — build greenways, bike lanes, waterfront parks. You could even appoint a board that tells residents what color they can paint their houses.
It’s done wonders for us, dahling.
But you have to be you, Columbia. Why not highlight all the great things you already have going for you? We can be of assistance — Most Helpful City, 2013.
Point out that your average daily summer temperatures are actually higher than ours. You have no idea how far that might go with people in Buffalo.
Don’t mention you’re actually colder than us in the winter.
Your downtown parking is much more affordable than ours. Why, you can even find street parking on a weekday.
We can barely remember what that was like.
Wait times for your restaurants are much more reasonable than ours — like at that new Hardee’s that just opened.
And you are much closer to the mountains. Of course, you’re also close to us. We don’t mind you name-dropping if we actually get to see the asphalt on Meeting Street once in a while.
We’re really pulling for you.
Of course, it’s not just us you have to worry about, Columbia.
North Charleston and Mount Pleasant are nipping at your heels, too. You could go the route of our sister city and become a retail hub, attract some glamorous industry or cement your reputation as a “green” city.
Not green with envy, dear. That’s not an attractive look.
Mount Pleasant has been amassing its own trophies lately, including Most Luxury SUVs of Any City, 2014.
A few years back, they spent $100,000 on a new motto — “Come on Over” — and it apparently worked. So perhaps you should try a new motto. How about these:
“Columbia: South Carolina’s Miss Congeniality.”
“Hey, Over Here!”
“Get Away to the Midlands ... of Nowhere.”
Don’t discount the power of a few words. Since Mount Pleasant adopted its slogan, it’s added 13,500 residents.
We suspect its proximity to us is the real reason the town has grown so much, but we’re much too mannerly to say so.
(Sort of like we’re actually jealous you’re the larger city, and that’s why we’re being so “Southern polite”).
Anyway, we hope this helps. Charleston is rooting for you.
And if none of this works, maybe we can cut a deal that helps us both.
You could lend us that Acme portable hole to stick in the middle of Savannah Highway.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.