1. You know that everything and anything can be — and is — a jawn.
Jawn is a word with a lot of pull. It can literally replace any noun in Philadelphian language. Need the remote? “Hey, pass me that jawn.” Lose your cell phone? “Where did I put that jawn?” Someone offers you some lima beans? “Get that jawn off my plate!”
2. You’ve been mocked for your accent.
No matter where you go — whether to Europe or just across the state to Pittsburgh — the way certain words come out of a Philadelphian’s mouth always seems to grab people’s attention. Out-of-towners love to make my apparent accent a topic of discussion or the butt of a joke. Actual studies have shown that the Philly accent and some of the linguistic oddities of the area are the strangest in the country. Water is pronounced “wooder” and I could pick out a Philly native halfway across the world just by the way they say “bathroom.”
3. You avoid driving in South Philly at all costs for fear of being double-parked.
4. You don’t expect to ever be on time for anything.
Traffic on any major highway in the area is an abomination. And SEPTA is often late. But when you’re on the train in the morning, you see the same commuters day in and day out. And you still accidentally slip up and call them the R2 or R5.
5. Going on vacation means going down the shore.
In Philly, one does not “hit the beach” or “spend time on the coast.” In Philly, you sit in traffic for what should be a two-hour drive to southern New Jersey, and you go down the shore. Growing up, you take a week (or more, if you’re lucky) every summer, and get salt water up your nose while boogie boarding in the murky ocean with your cousins. Your hair turns an enviable blonde and you blister in the sun despite your parents’ incessant reapplications of sunscreen. You take day trips with your friends during high school summer vacation, strolling the boardwalk for pizza, relishing in the independence that comes with riding shotgun in your friend’s hand-me-down Honda all the way to the edge of South Jersey. After prom and graduation, it’s where you go to celebrate the end of childhood, and where you’ll continue to go for as long as you live in Philly.
6. Your food preferences are super specific.
When it comes to food, it can be done the Philly way or it can be done the wrong way. In Philly, an Italian hoagie on an Amoroso roll is a delicacy worthy of the highest honors. To outsiders, Wawa may seem like just a gas station, but Philadelphians know it’s far more than that. We don’t eat Italian ice here, we eat water ice — best with a warm soft pretzel dipped into it.
7. If you miss the Mummers Parade and don’t even catch the highlights on TV, you’re extremely disappointed.
This annual carnival-like tradition features 10,000 people decked out in vibrant, extravagant costumes. They strut, they dance, they sashay their way up Broad Street and Philadelphians gather to watch in the freezing cold to welcome the new year.
8. Everyone you know went to Penn State.
With dozens of universities in the city, Philly is essentially a big college town. Penn State is less than four hours away. And what Penn State has that the city schools don’t, is an enormous amount of 1. alumni and 2. pride. With the biggest alumni network in the world, Penn Staters — easily spotted in their head-to-toe spirited collegiate attire — are crawling all over Philly. It causes a little bit of tension between them and the rest of the Philadelphian scholars.
9. You don’t pay much attention to the local history.
When you grow up with Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in your backyard, you visit the historic sites on a third-grade field trip and then most likely never go back.
10. You don’t believe in the Philadelphia inferiority complex.
Some people think that Philly is getting outshone by the other two massive powerhouse cities. But if we’re getting technical, Philly is the fifth most-populous city in the country. Washington, DC is 23rd. We don’t feel trapped in anyone’s shadow. And we can all think of a long list of reasons why Philly is much, much better than New York, or DC, or Los Angeles, or…
11. You’ve bought a bag of pretzels from the guy standing in the middle of Cottman Ave., while waiting at a red light.
12. You’re a hardcore sports fan.
I know. What town doesn’t consider itself a sports town? But just picture this: Sunday morning, the priest at the front doors welcoming everyone in. Among the old ladies in their dresses and old men in their scratchy suits, the church is packed with anxious fans proudly donning their Eagles jerseys and making signs of the cross. After the homily, the priest says a little prayer to keep the players safe and to hopefully pull out a win (we did it!). Everyone keeps their heads bowed and maybe gives a little nod — they’re really, really praying for those Eagles (and it worked!). That’s Philly.
Philly has a bad reputation for having obnoxious fans, but growing up here you know those people are just a small, overblown representation. You know that on Friday before a home game, kids in every elementary school in the area are wearing their green and chanting the Eagles fight song before they pack up for the weekend.
13. If you’re having a party, you know you’re going to have to make a stop at a beer distributor AND the state store.
14. You’ve got thick skin.
From a young age, you’re taught to hold your own, stand up for yourself and ignore all the hate that a lot of other people seem to feel toward this proud city. It’s subtly ingrained in you that you are not going to be the type of person who takes shit from anyone. It’s a rough town, but it’s also the city of brotherly love. Mayor Nutter once said, “Philadelphians are a gritty, tough people who will help you when you’re down,” and we know that to be true.
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