I was born and raised in Rahway. Growing up in Union County, I couldn't fully appreciate my status as a New Jerseyan until I had seen other parts of the country, as well as other parts of New Jersey.

I've lived in Cape May County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, and now Somerset County. I've also lived in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Virginia, California, Michigan, etc. Now a middle-aged man I have to say New Jersey, while hard, is the best place of all.

Still I sometimes ask myself am I a TRUE New Jerseyan? So I thought about a litmus test. See how many of these you can check off (scroll down to see why they matter).

This is the one that haunts me. When bear sightings are becoming so common (they've been seen in all 21 counties and in some extremely unlikely, populated areas) can I really feel like true Jersey when I've never seen one? Even Tony Soprano dealt with a bear for crying out loud! It doesn't get more Jersey than The Sopranos.

You get in an actual argument over pizza.

I don't mean one of those playfights or any friendly debate about what real pizza is. I mean an actual argument with someone from a place like Michigan where they don't know pizza from a Detroit manhole cover.

This happened with a co-worker there who had never set foot in New Jersey and he tried to defend chain store, deep dish pizza as if that's even pizza. So the kind of argument I'm talking about is where your blood pressure rises and you display the passion one would when defending a sister's virtue. Where it could almost turn physical, and if it did you'd gladly spend that one night in jail because it was Jersey pizza you were sticking up for, and it must be defended at all costs.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

You fear your property tax.

You don't just complain about it. You don't just think about it on occasion. You FEAR it. Like an intruder in the night. Like a nemesis that is always on the hunt for you. You regard it the way Harry Potter regards Voldemort. You dare not speak its name, but it's always there in a dark corner waiting for you. It's sometimes higher than your monthly grocery budget and car payment put together, and it would like nothing more than for you to fail.

You understand that going to a Bruce show can be like going to church.

From "New Jersey Turnpike ridin' on a wet night" to "sprung from cages on Highway 9" to "they closed down the auto plant in Mahwah" Bruce's words ooze a New Jersey darkness like tar strips on Route 1 but they also offer a redemption when all is said and done. Bruce is good for the Jersey soul, and if you're a true New Jerseyan you get that.

You've been let down by the very same elected official you voted for.

Too sad and too countless to bother getting into. You know exactly what I mean. The corruption here is legendary.

You can immediately come up with an answer when asked "where is the worst smell in the Garden State?"

For those of us who grew up in Union County it's that stretch of the NJ Turnpike by the Anheuser-Busch plant, Newark Liberty, and all that industry.

You think in terms of exits instead of towns.

That really bad smell in Union County? That's between 12 and 13, not between Carteret and Elizabeth.

You have nothing but disgust for people like Snooki, JWoww, and Mike Sorrentino.

'Nuff said.

KIIS-FM Hosts "Now 34 And The Jersey Shore" Party
Jenni JWoww Farley, Vinny Guadagnino, Angelina Pivarnick, Nicole Snooki Polizzi, Ronnie Magro, Pauly D DelVecchio, Sammi Sweetheart Giancola, and Mike The Situation Sorrentino (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

You hit a deer.

It happens tens of thousands of times a year. Can I be a true New Jerseyan if I never hit a deer? If I was never on the side of a road with blood and hair stuck in my smashed in grill and a guy in a pickup truck from Salem County stopping to ask me if I was going to take that home or could he have it ... can I really say I'm a true New Jerseyan?

You think seriously about leaving.

You are amazed when your brother who already moved to North Carolina sends pics of how much home his money bought and how low his property taxes are. You look on Zillow at houses across the Delaware River and go on Mapquest to see if you can possibly still work here and commute to somewhere cheaper. You realize if you can ever retire your property taxes will still exceed what your cousin in the Carolinas pays for his entire mortgage.

Finally, you wake up at the Jersey shore with your lungs full of salt air and your soul full of peace and you can't believe you ever seriously thought about leaving.

Jeff Deminski and his son Atticus
Jeff Deminski photo

— Jeff Deminski

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