Mainers are reputed to be a little backwards, so why not give the public what they want?
AYUH, I’M NATIVE
All this political correctness is sure taking the fun and color out of regional imagery. Why, shucks! Texans ain’t ashamed of being called Texans, even though they know that the title will immediately conjure up mental images of long-horned steers and ten-gallon hats. I sincerely doubt that every native Nebraskan shucks corn for a living, but I’ve never heard any of them complain about being called a Cornhusker. And Rednecks have certainly gained a rung or two on the social ladder thanks to the humor of Jeff Foxworthy. I’ll bet the increased sales of those infamous bass boats haven’t hurt their local economy either.
That’s why, as an honest-to-goodness, fifth-generation, dyed-in-the-wool, genuine, born-and-raised native of this great state, I’m proud to be called a Mainiac! And I delight in playing along with the ‘lobstah’ dialect and the ‘frozen tundra wilderness’ image that so many Flatlanders want to bestow on us. I don’t mind that they tease me about not having indoor plumbing. (I know the difference!) And I think it’s wonderful that they want to believe our only cultural activities consist of Grange Hall ‘socials’ and Founders Day Parades. They may joke about the baked beans and homemade biscuits at the Saturday night Church Suppers, but inwardly I know their mouths are watering at the thought.
Our men are stereotyped as back woods farmers, ‘lobstahmen’ or lumberjacks, and the women are relegated to roles of frumpy old housewives or gossipy members of the Grange Hall Auxiliary. So when I’m conversing with my Flatlander friends I tend to play up the image they want to see. I rattle on about lining up the Jug Band for the Saturday night social, and complain about having to replace the spoon player, Everett, because he wrenched his back fixing the manure spreader. (Lord knows that a jug band sounds just awful without the spoons.) And when I tell them how it took me three hours to shame that ornery old codger Alton into filling in, I begin to earn their respect. Of course, when I tell them that I had to remind Alton of that little incident in the horse barn with the Widow Beasley, our local color comes alive.
I’ll elaborate on the social by inventing Sylvia and Ada, two Auxiliary members who are feuding over who should run the fried dough booth. Fictitious Mabel has to give up her position because the molasses makes her break out in hives, and her best friend Georgia won’t do it because old Ezra keeps hanging around the fryolators, pinching her behind. I praise the dedicated efforts of Amanda and Helen, the two ladies who tend the beans and hot dog booth, because it’s that concession that keeps the Grange members sober enough to stagger home at the end of the evening.
But even that scenario needs elaboration, so I explain that, when the social finally breaks up at 10:30 at night, the traffic on our old tote roads is so heavy that we can’t afford to have our men folk staggering out into the middle of the track. With roads barely wide enough for a Corvair and a horse to pass, our inebriated members face extreme danger when old Vernon gets to weaving his ’68 Caddy all over the road. Why even the squirrels ain’t safe in the pine trees come Saturday evening!
But you can only pull a Flatlander’s leg just so long, so I make my exit by explaining that I have to go and track down Jake to see if he’ll part with a couple of gallons of his pickled eggs. It seems that Virginia managed to procure the mustard pickles, but she forgot to get the pickled eggs. Of course, if the truth be known, I’m really just trying to buy some time before my friends from Arizona call…they can’t wait to hear the next installment of the moose at the outhouse saga…and I haven’t created that episode yet!