Say you’re from Cleveland when you’re not.

Cleveland is as much a victim of suburban sprawl as almost any other American city, especially in the Rust Belt with a roster of cities like Detroit, Buffalo, Youngstown and Pittsburgh. As a result, Cleveland is surrounded by an army of cookie-cutter suburbs that have pretty much spent their existence succeeding off of the city’s misery. Yet despite all this, people who live in these communities insist on calling Cleveland home, even though their true home probably hurt Cleveland economically and socially, not to mention they couldn’t dream of living within the city limits. So here’s the deal: You’re not from Cleveland unless you’re actually from Cleveland.

Now that I’ve pissed off the vastly larger metro population, let’s move on.

Call Cleveland “The Mistake on the Lake”.

Is referencing a joke older than you really the best way to endear yourself to Clevelanders? Besides, there’s no way you know where that joke started, why it was funny, and why it’s not really funny anymore. Even if you get it, only Clevelanders can make fun of Clevelanders. It’s a sibling-esque relationship. Keep your uncreative, generic jokes pointed due north — Canada.

Invoke Drew Carey.

Drew Carey seems like a perfectly nice guy. I enjoy watching the Price Is Right host curse on Twitter. But Drew Carey is no more a representation of Cleveland than any other number of celebrities who grew up in the area and now reside in Los Angeles after achieving fame. It’s not like his show was filmed here, save the “Cleveland Rocks” opening sequence. The rest was a set in a California studio. TV is magic, folks.

Tell us with surprise that we don’t suck after all.

There have been no shortage of articles proclaiming without an ounce of originality that Cleveland is the American comeback story. I know this because we love sharing the articles. Tourism, too, has been on the uptick. The general consensus is “Wow! Cleveland doesn’t suck after all.” That’s kind of a backhanded compliment, no? Could you imagine going on a date and ending with, “Wow! You don’t smell like garbage after all”? I hope not.

Tell us we suck when you’ve never visited.

There’s a negative connotation associated with Cleveland that nobody can deny. It’s slowly changing, but only with those who actually make the effort to visit. Otherwise, there’s still a large number of ignorant Americans who inherently pity anyone living in Cleveland — even those who choose to live here. Not cool.

Call us “Little Chicago”.

Cleveland is about 350 miles east of Chicago, and has its own history, culture and unique story. Nothing against Chicago, it’s a perfectly lovely place to visit or live, but these are drastically different cities.

Remind us of our winter.

Consider the very simple fact that we live here. Do we really need a reminder from you, dear visitor, that our winter weather is generally awful? No, thank you. Keep your small talk to yourself, and come back when the sun does.

Ask where Cleveland is.

When did American schools stop teaching geography? Nobody expects you to drop a pin on Middle of Nowhere, Wyoming, but Cleveland should be fairly easy to spot. Not to mention we’re on a freaking Great Lake.