East Coast Geography for North Westerners

Sea Monkey Shrimp

By Jack Edwards

I just discovered shocking news. Rhode Island is not an island. It’s just another pedestrian piece of the United States. The contiguous United States. Yeah, the whole island thing is a scam.

Before you East Coast people get started, I would strongly recommend you zip it. If you think that we over here on the west coast aren’t well aware that 99.99% of you regularly mix up whether Oregon or Washington sits directly atop California, you are sadly misinformed. So mind your bees wax. This column is for the edification of my fellow North Westerners who have no idea whether Indiana or Illinois sits father to the east, or whether Vermont shares a border with New York. And, hold on to your hat for this, we don’t really care.

Yes, I am aware (after looking at an elementary school map yesterday) that Rhode Island does have a few islands. Let me point out that Washington has about a thousand islands carpeting a little Pacific inlet known as PUGET SOUND, but you don’t see Washington calling itself Washington Island. Even Hawaii, a state famous for being nothing but islands, didn’t name itself Hawaii Island.

This reminds me of when I was a kid and some cockroach of a company was marketing a miniature species of shrimp as Sea Monkeys. They came in a box with a plastic “tank” where the sea monkeys would live. The colorful box was plastered with illustrations of all these little sea monkeys with happy little human faces frolicking with one another. Except after you finally wore your tired parents down to the point that they actually bought you the box of sea monkeys, and you added water, you realized that you’d been duped. They weren’t the creatures displayed on the box. They didn’t have little human faces. They were shrimp. Insect-like shrimp at that. The whole thing was a sham. You were suddenly the reluctant owner of a bait shop.

What I’m saying is this. Rhode Island should gather what’s left of its dignity and change its name to Rhode. True, the name Rhode looks somewhat naked and insecure, and its director of tourism might collapse under the pressure of trying to convince people to spend their money in a place that sounds more like an industrial equipment manufacturer than a state, but honesty comes with a cost. On the flip side, in the event that Rhode Island chooses to retain its (misleading) name, I have another suggestion. It should change its state motto to, “Rhode Island, The Sea Monkey State.”