When we entered a new year at midnight on Jan. 1, a lot of things changed here in North Carolina.

Our new governor, Roy Cooper, was officially sworn in. Numerous changes in laws ranging from foster care to sales taxes to road tolls kicked in. And, in one fell swoop, we got a bunch of new residents from South Carolina.

The new residents of the Tar Heel State came to us as part of the resolution of a long-standing question as to exactly where the border between North and South Carolina is.

It seems that, back in 1735, when the original survey party was sent out to map the border, they got as far as the mosquito-infested swamps and dense woods that covered what’s now York County, south of Charlotte, and decided, “You know what? We are not getting paid nearly enough for this.”

According to The New York Times, they simply “drove a stake into the ground 12 miles too far to the south and went home.”

Subsequent efforts to fix the border only compounded the problem, especially since there’s apparently some sort of “magnetic anomaly” west of Charlotte that’s been mapped by the U.S. Geological Survey and which throws off compasses.

(I feel like somebody really should have looked into this a long time ago. Is there some sort of meteorite buried there? An alien monolith? Gov. Cooper, please get on this ASAP.)

Anyway, it eventually occurred to people that we really needed to get this whole thing settled, and thanks to the miracle of GPS satellites, now we can.

Some wrangling inevitably ensued, however, since the people in the contested borderlands weren’t all that eager to switch states. Eventually, however, compromises were hammered out.

For instance, the Lake Wylie Mini Mart, although suddenly finding itself in North Carolina, can still sell fireworks, and it can keep selling alcohol and gasoline using South Carolina’s lower tax rates. Kids whose state of residence has suddenly changed can get in-state tuition in either state for the next 10 years. And so on.

It’s not clear how many new North Carolinians there are. The South Carolina magazine The State says it’s only 16 (while three families are being shifted to South Carolina), but WRAL’s website pegs the total at “50 homeowners.” Whether it’s 16 or 50, however, we here in the Old North State bid you folks a warm welcome! Now, here are some things you’ll need to know:

First, you’re going to need to pick a North Carolina ACC team to root for. I know some of you former Clemson fans are going to find this traumatic, but that’s just the way it is. The choices are UNC (the Tar Heels), NC State (the Wolfpack), and Wake Forest (the Demon Deacons, a name which we can all agree makes no flippin’ sense whatsoever).

Oh, and some school from Durham. The Blue Meanies or some such nonsense. It’s a school that’s mostly attended by Yankee transplants who aren’t even going to stay here when they graduate, so forget those guys. The choice, of course, is up to you, but I would observe that your new home, North Carolina, is known as the “Tar Heel State.” Just sayin’.

A more emotionally fraught choice involves barbecue. I hear that what South Carolina regards as “barbecue” involves some kind of mustard-based sauce. To which I can only say: I’m so glad we got to you in time. North Carolina ’cue is either Western or “Lexington” style, which usually uses the shoulder of the pig and a tomato-ey sauce, while Eastern, or “the best” style, uses the whole hog, cooked slowly for hours over a wood fire, and a delicious, tangy sauce made of vinegar and pepper.

As I’ve gotten older, my feelings toward Western style have moderated somewhat, which means I no longer consider it an abomination before God. Just no mustard. Please.

Oh, and for the time being, you’re going to have to have your birth certificate handy when you use a public restroom. Don’t ask why, because the answer’s stupid, and we hope we can remedy it soon. But it is what it is.

So, again, welcome to our new North Carolinians, and we hope that, in the words of our State Toast, your weak go strong, and your strong grow great! Just know that they’re never going to do it cheering on some lame team from Durham and eating nasty mustard-based barbecue.

 

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