How To Be More Of A Mainer
Click any blue-bordered photo on this page to enlarge it.
This juvenile moose is a real Mainer, or should we say "Maine-ah"? Photo by Michael Breault.
by Esther J. Perne
You can't be from here if you're from there, or can you? Try these tips:
- Eat red hot dogs. Buy them in bulk, introduce them to guests, feed them to the kids and if you are ever at a function that offers a choice, pick red like a pro. (A little bit of distain for other colors is OK!) The crowning red hot dog tip is eat them with rolls that are split along the top.
- Say "frig around," but don't say it in front of your mother, if she is from away, because only Mainers know that they mean idling away time on the trivial and don't mean the other meaning.
- Invest in a vest…and live in it. Wear it indoors. Wear it outdoors. Wear it out. Have a vest for every season, just one you will become recognized for and rotate what you wear beneath it from cool tank tops to warm sweaters of wool. The secret temperature control is zipper control up tight to the neck when you are cold, down when you are not.
- Drive a "vehicle," the catch-all term (never say car) for whatever you drive. Carry a canoe on top (never mind if you ever use it) and you are "in." Add a dog (or a Golden Retriever) inside or in the bed if your vehicle is a truck and you truly belong at least to the dog.
- Always answer with "no problem." It puts the requester at ease and it is non-comital. You don't really have to do whatever the no problem is. The expression also is a link (from French "pas de problème") to Maine's major heritage.
- Adopt a mémé. Mémé means Grandmother to Maine's large Francophone population although everyone should have one. Mémés are a little bit stern yet beaming with love. Like you wouldn't dare not to eat your vegetables (even if you are a grown man) but you know there are always some delicious homebaked cookies waiting for you.
- Never use your front door unless your house is for sale, in which case you would want to cut a path and clear the bushes. Otherwise, join the back door culture where family, friends and especially visiting dignitaries can enter the mud room and/or kitchen directly.
- Drink coffee strong. You know what mud looks like. You're on.
- Eat cheese with pie, develop a taste for grape nut ice cream, pour maple syrup into your beverages and onto anything else you will consume, learn what fiddlehead means, and practice baking whoopie pies. Maine's commercial whoopie pies are fantastically good but making your own is a source of Mainer pride.
- Plan for fall. Purchase a plaid shirt to go under that vest and stage your yard with blue tarps ostensibly to cover piles of wood, machines that are used during the summer, sports equipment for which there is no storage room and stuff you will never take to the dump but should.
- Plan for winter! Take up bingo and snowmobiling; follow high school basketball, especially the playoffs that bump the regular TV schedule; and start a business repairing mailboxes, which is no joke.
If you're from there can you ever become from here? Possibly…and won't it be fun trying.
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