I grew up in New Hampshire, and took the 60 mile trek south to land in Boston for college and beyond. I've been away from New England for a total of less than two months of my entire life. I like it here. I like the people. I usually like the weather. So when somebody starts to talk smack on my native land I take it personally.
I've heard it all - New Englanders are rude, Boston drivers are clueless, Southie accents are horrible, Red Sox fans are the worst. I'm here to tell you IT'S WRONG. ALL OF IT. (Except maybe the drivers part.)
So, because I'm so nice and not-rude, I've put together a little something to help you all (excuse me, "y'all") out:
Molly's Wicked Awesome Outsider's Guide To The New Englander
1. What you may deem as "rude" is really just a general distaste for small talk.
Now, I like to think of myself as a polite and friendly person. But I am not about to start making conversation with a stranger just for the sake of talking. It's simply not in my genes. If someone asks me a question (I'm a magnet for lost tourists needing directions), I'll gladly answer, maybe even ask where they're from. But chit chatting about the weather or "how about those Sox?" No. NOOO.
I know I share this trait with a great many of my fellow New Englanders. I have my theories as to why. We walk, talk, generally function a little bit faster up here because you never know when the next blizzard is about to hit. It may be June but a Nor'Easter is just around the bend and I have to get my lawn chairs and orange cones out to block my parking space I DON'T HAVE TIME TO TALK. I like to think of it less as rudeness and more as EFFICIENCY. (Though it could go either way in the example of my dad ending every phone call with an abrupt "good enough!" and a click.)
The best compliment I ever received from a stranger came a few years ago. Waiting at a bus stop, an older gentleman walked over and sat by me. I was nose deep in a book (an extremely popular "this means I don't want to talk to you" device), when he said, "excuse me, I won't bother you anymore after I say this, but you have really beautiful hair." Now THAT is how you compliment a New Englander. The promise that the forced conversation does not have to follow. Straight and to the point. And not at all rude.
If you're wearing any Yankees paraphernalia, all bets are off. You asked for it.
2. Just give the accent a chance
First: The Harvard Yard is not a parking lot. That's not cute anymore. Second: the thick Boston accent is not nearly as prevalent or as exaggerated as Hollywood would have you believe.
Leo, I love you, but lets leave the dropped R's to Marky Mark.
Let me show you how it's done.
But I promise, just listen to some townies for a while, you'll learn to love it.
3. While we're on the subject of speech - nobody in Beantown actually calls it Beantown
We do say wicked, but never "wicked pissah." I have no idea where that even came from. If you're in the 'burbs, you get your Sam Adams at the Packy (though in the city its still called a Liquor Store because we don't want to confuse the college kids). The T includes the subway, bus, commuter rail and ferries but most people are just referring to the subway (which is awful). Ask for a reguluh coffee at Dunk's and they'll give you cream and sugar. The B's and C's both play in the Gahdin, but the Sox are over at Fenway Pahk. All set?
4. If you haven't tried candlepin bowling yet, you really should
5. Nobody cares about you, soccer
Yes, New England has a professional soccer team (and lacrosse for that matter). No, I've never met or heard of anyone who cares about them. It's all about Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, Patriots. If you're gonna live here, choose one or more and stick with it. Or at least respect the fact that you moved to a sports culture and things are gonna get FIERCE. Boston sports teams go through long phases of being just awful. Then improving for a few years, then breaking our hearts again. There's a whole psyche around being a Sox fan. I may or may not have a baseball related tattoo. I'm just saying. Fans can get rambunctious and annoying at times, but it doesn't last forever. Enjoy it, get involved, paint your face.
And that, friends, is all you need to know. Now get outta my way and quit hogging the sidewalk.
What would you want an outsider to know about your native culture?