It’s official. I’m no longer a Hoosier.
After two years of illegally living in the state of Illinois, holding on to my Indiananess like it was a Larry Bird original jersey, I finally gave in and became a legal Illinois resident. It’s true. I have the driver’s license to prove it.
So here I am, a regular, old Illinoisan. At least I think I’m called an Illinoisan. Or are we supposed to be called the Fighting Illini, as long as we don’t use the mascot?
Whatever I’m called, I’m sure there’s going to be a period of adjustment as I go from southern Indiana “country” boy to northern Illinois “Oh my gosh, we’re going to be swallowed by the suburbs! Run for you life!” boy.
During the period of adjustment, I came up with three important things I should probably know if I’m going to make it as a resident of this fine state, the birthplace of tough customers like Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp, Ernest Hemingway and, of course, Bill Murray.
One, if I butcher the English language, as I’m prone to do from time to time (how was I supposed to know Decatur didn’t rhyme with Equador?), can I still blame it on being from Indiana?
Two, can I continue to use my lunch break to practice my free throw shooting?
Three, and most importantly, do I have to admit that there is even a remote chance that “Hoosiers” is not the greatest movie ever created in the history of man? Because I won’t do it. I just won’t.
I’m ready to make Illinois proud, though. I’ve already learned that’s the state name is not pronounced, “Achoo!” (Achoo. Ill noise. Get it? Get it! Oh, come on. A little pun never hurt anybody.) I’m even willing to root for Illinois basketball, the Chicago Bears and even the WNBA Chicago team that will begin play this summer. I will not, however, root for the Blackhawks. That’s just a crime.
All in all, I’m happy to be an Illinois resident. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go practice my free throws. You can take the Hoosier out of Indiana. But you can’t take the Indiana out of a Hoosier. Even if he is now a legal Illinois resident.