Photo: Denise Andersen/Shutterstock

How to Piss Off Someone From Maine

by Emma Thieme Aug 11, 2014
Write an article about Maine.

Someone, somewhere is going to be absolutely offended this article was written. Probably because they won’t personally relate to it, it’ll divulge actual information about “real” Maine, and/or it’ll fail to mention how great lighthouses and lobster rolls are.

Many people will even fail to read past the title. They’ll be totally insulted that someone would even dare to suggest on a public forum that a Mainer ever got pissed off.

Refuse to acknowledge the differences between Southern Maine and the entire rest of the state.

Southern Maine is home to our beloved city of Portland, located in beautiful Casco Bay. You can go sailing there. You can see a lighthouse. You can drive by all the gorgeous mansions of Kennebunkport and Falmouth. It’s a great place. Does it depict the majority of Maine culture? Not necessarily.

Drive just three hours northeast to Washington County, and you’ll still be on the ocean, you’ll still be in an exquisite place, but you’ll be in one of the poorest counties in America.

In 2010, a state representative even proposed a bill that would divide Maine into two states. He suggested that Northern and Central Maine be called “Maine” and Southern Maine be renamed “Northern Massachusetts.”

I don’t think that’s really necessary. But recognizing the obvious differences and taking the time to explore what our entire state has to offer means a great deal to us.

Tell us Portland isn’t a “real city.”

Just because Southern Maine is different doesn’t mean we’re not proud of it. There’s nothing that makes a flatlander sound more pretentious than telling us we don’t know what a real city is.

Portland is how Maine does a city. You can go and peruse a used-record store, get a $10 coffee, and eat a mediocre gyro from a street cart while still running into people you know everywhere, or, even better, running into people who know people you know. It’s a concentrated metropolitan paradise — what more do you need? More people urinating in public? Go to the Old Port.

Call us “hippies.”

Yes, many people moved here in the ’60s and ’70s. But most of them didn’t move here to fingerpaint, talk to a tree, and convulse to the Grateful Dead.

The back-to-the-land movement that’s still alive and well in Maine began primarily because of the inspirational experiences of pioneers like Helen and Scott Nearing. People came here because land was dirt cheap, and they wanted to learn how to work it, raise livestock, grow their own food, and separate from a society they didn’t relate to. Those people aren’t hippies. They’re hard workers.

Tell us to get rid of our junk.

Take any back road off Route 1A and you’ll see a charming assortment of mini junkyards in most backyards. Why would you get rid of your stove-up 1983 Volvo wagon when you might be able to put its motor into your other stove-up 1983 Volvo wagon?

Why would you get rid of the XR80 that’s been sitting under a tarp since you were 13? You might have a kid someday who wants to fracture her wrist on the Sunrise Trail because she’s riding a rusted-out XR80 that doesn’t even have a seat on it. You have to prepare for these things.

If there’s one thing every true Mainer knows, it’s that you can never have enough lawnmower engines.

Make us drive any distance over three miles.

If you want to witness a world-class example of a Maine tantrum (lots of throaty sighs and low growls) ask a person from Harrington to drive to Jonesport.

Many Mainers can almost completely self sustain on their land. When they have to leave it and run an errand that’s two towns away, it’s a hugely exasperating affair. We don’t get out much. And when we do, we can be a little pissed off about it.

Paradoxically, everything in Maine is ridiculously far away, and in many cases you really can’t get there from here. So, naturally, there are a lot of exasperated Mainers out there.

Tell us how to raise our children.

Maine kids are a breed all their own. At the Common Ground Fair, I once saw a 10-year-old get kicked in the chest by a mule. He walked it off.

Maine parents toughen up their babies from infancy. They don’t load them up with “kid coke” or bathe them in Purell. Maine kids aren’t gluten-free, sugar-free vegans with tree-nut allergies, and they certainly don’t have Twitter accounts.

When I was a kid, my mom would get a pile of dirt delivered to our backyard in a dump truck so we could all play in it. Seriously. A pile of dirt.

Be a lazy or dependent person.

Maine is a hardworking state. We’re a population of farmers, foresters, fishermen, hand laborers, and field workers.

If you try and tell us about how you didn’t work a job in high school, or about how your parents are still paying your rent, we’re not going to relate to you. And, honestly, we probably won’t be able to like you either.

Mainers relate to other hardworking Mainers. Sometimes it’s a little difficult for us to understand the lives and cultures of people “from away” because we automatically assume they don’t understand our lives and culture. But we really do try. All in all, Mainers are an accepting people. And we do want to get to know you.

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