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How to Confuse a Rhode Islander

Rhode Island
by Mary Lee Readyhough Blackwell Oct 28, 2016

Ask us to drive more than fifteen minutes from home.

Many of us are Swampuhs or Swamp Yankees. For generations upon generations, we’ve been farm-bred and farm-born. In many cases, we’ve never had a need to travel beyond the confines of the farm. We have everything we need right where we are. Newer Rhode Island inhabitants will make an exception, in the summer, to go to the beach.

Give us directions using street names.

If we do agree to drive more than 15 minutes for something, we will need directions. But don’t confuse us by using actual street names…we get everywhere by way of landmarks. Many landmarks are long since gone and require further explanation. Acceptable landmarks include restaurants, the Towers, the Coast Guard House or the seawall, the movie theater, URI, and various farm stands. If you tell us, “Go past where the Larchwood Inn used to be” or, “Take a left after the bridge and get on the highway and head toward the Towers,” we’ll know what you mean.

Ask us about geography. In Rhode Island or beyond.

We don’t have a need to know. See number 1. Don’t judge us, at least we know we don’t live in Long Island, NY.

Give us a compliment.

Especially if we don’t know you. We won’t believe you. Even if the compliment is sincere we’ll think either: A) There is something wrong with you, or B) You have an ulterior motive. Either way, it will be clear you don’t know us. Compliments make us uncomfortable and leave us confounded.

Tell us South County, Rhode Island doesn’t exist.

I grew up in South County so how on earth can it not exist? Technically, South County is strictly a local term. Towns like Wakefield, Narragansett, and Kingston, are actually in Washington County. We will debate South County’s existence until the end of time.

Ask us for our license plate number.

When we register our cars, the DMV gives us tags.

Tell us to put the boxes in the basement.

It’s a cellar. Or in Rhode Islandese, a sellah.

Ask us to change.

We’re old school. We like what we like, and we like it to stay the same. Change, if ever accepted, will take a long, long time.

Create a new state logo.

Did you not read number 8? Changing the state logo is just irresponsible, especially if it’s base and lacks sensibility. Cooler and warmer? What? How is that possible? We’re the Ocean State, full of hope and anchored in our beliefs. Period.

Serve us hard boiled, white eggs.

We live in a realm where green is all about the airport, Brown is about the University, and red is about the Rhode Island Red hens which lay brown eggs. As the old jingle went, “Brown eggs are local eggs, and local eggs are fresh.” White eggs are suspect.

Serve us clam chowder with tomatoes or cream.

No need to muck up that lovely clam flavor with such nonsense. We eat Rhode Island clam chowder made from clam broth.

Try to insult us.

Political corruption? Yup, we’ve got that. It comes with the territory. Unpredictable driving habits? Meh. Weird foodie culture? Funny accent? You bettah believe it. Hipster vibe in Providence? Obsession with all things coffee-flavored? Yeah, and we’re proud of it all. Get with the program. And thank you very much for noticing.

Ask us how to confuse a Rhode Islander.

Nothing confuses us. As long as you behave like a Rhode Islander.

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