1. You no longer consider dinner and a movie to be the perfect date.
In fact, he never really asked you out. You just went for a motorcycle ride down Route 1 and a hike up Pigeon Hill, and now you’re official. Maine guys don’t necessarily take you out on the town; they show you where they’re from. That’s the real test.
2. You used to just look at nature; now you’ve been immersed in it.
Maine men — and women — take the outdoors very seriously. When he wants to take you camping for the weekend, he wastes no effort in doing so. He loads the boat with enough camping gear to shelter a small village, hooks it all to the truck, unloads everything at Tunk Lake, motors you across, and sets up a kickass campsite on the beach.
You’re then required to hike up Black Mountain so he can point out all the trees. (Birch! Spruce! Cedar!) And birds. (Chickadees! Woodpeckers! Loons!) And any other thing he believes to be of importance to you. (Deer poop! Porcupine quills! PBR cans!)
3. You’ll now pee anywhere.
One of the most crucial factors your relationship most likely depends on is whether or not you can drop trou and pop a squat wherever. With the amount of time you both spend cruising back roads, trudging through brush, and partying in the middle of complete Stickville nowhere, you can’t afford to be modest. No self-respecting Maine guy’s going to drive out of his way to find an actual toilet for you to hover over. So you’ve learned to do as the Maine gals do and throw embarrassment out the window.
4. Through the power of association, you’re now a badass.
You guys logged 400 miles on the V-Max this summer when you went to a biker conference in New Hampshire. You were bored last weekend, so you hiked the entire Bold Coast Trail. You couldn’t sleep last night, so you kayaked down the Narraguagus. You drove from Florida to Maine last winter in a Subaru Outback, which was hauling a skiff, which had a 1200cc Yamaha in it.
No big deal. You guys do what you want.
5. All of a sudden, you don’t really give a shit.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff” encapsulates Maine culture. Before you started dating this guy, you were pretty uptight about all sorts of random stuff. You often wondered: Are these ballet flats sensible for this backwoods pit party? (No.) Does my hair look greasy because I haven’t had access to running water in six days? (Yes.) Is he really getting out of his truck to shoot that deer? (Most likely.)
Your Maine guy’s taught you to just relax. Don’t obsess! There’s absolutely nothing to worry about over here!
6. Baked beans, sausage, and Cabot tomato-basil cheese are appropriate at any time of day.
It’s the ultimate camping meal, but you’ve accepted that this is the only thing he’s going to feed you. Ever.
7. You can’t go anywhere without being introduced to everyone there.
If he doesn’t know someone, their parents, and their parents’ parents, he intends to find all of that out. You’ve reached the summit of a mountain only to watch him walk over to the single other person there and introduce himself. For what reason? You haven’t figured that out yet. But once he knows a person, he doesn’t forget them, and they certainly don’t forget him. You guys have been walking down the street in New Orleans and been stopped by a guy who remembered him from a bar in Asheville, North Carolina, five years ago.
8. You’re much braver than you used to be.
He thinks you’re brave because you’ll go anywhere with him. You think you’re not brave; you’re just trying to impress him. Until one day you wake up and go kayaking alone in Gouldsboro Bay — just because you want to. And even though you’re alone, you realize your phobia of drowning is abating because your sense of adventure is growing. And, later, when you’re both cruising down Route 9 on the motorcycle and two bears run out in front of you, you’re more concerned with getting a clear picture than you are of getting attacked by two bears.
9. You have a hard time telling who you’re really in love with — the state of Maine or him.
So you spend a winter in Florida and realize it’s probably him.