New England Dissected
I’m sure I’ve mentioned somewhere in previous posts that I’m a New Englander, but unless you’re from here you can’t really comprehend the significance of that statement. New Englanders wear their citizenship like a badge of honor, defining ourselves not by our individual states but by our geographical region, much the same way someone from Scotland or Ireland would define themselves by their family, or clan.
So to help all of you southern, inland and west coasters out there understand the Clan New England, I’m going to break it down with a metaphorical example. Imagine a Thanksgiving day dinner table, and at one end you have:
This is grandpa. He doesn’t do or say much, and he’s been around so long you almost forget he’s there. Oh, and he doesn’t have teeth. Next to him is:
This is the oldest son, the one who went off all gung-ho to Vietnam and came back disillusioned and pissed. He rides a Harley and defends his right to not pay taxes. He’ll school you on the history of any firearm known to man, whether you ask him to or not. When he’s not at Laconia for bike week he’s at a Knights of Columbus meeting. He earns his money either by being a trucker, mechanic or working construction. And his wife is Asian. Always. Next to him is:
No one gets under New Hampshire’s tough leather skin quite like Vermont. Part hippie poser, part Phish fan, all organic NPR listening Vermont. He’s college educated, usually earning a degree in either history or philosophy, which makes him an expert on EVERYTHING. He’ll chastise you for driving anything other than a Prius and is forever preaching the evils of pop culture. The only reason he owns a television is to watch PBS, and he’s married to a girl from:
The oldest daughter of a respectable family, make no mistake she is Vassar bound. When she’s not out shopping for argyle socks she’s sticking a finger down her throat or sneaking out to heavy metal concerts to bang tattooed pretty boys on motorcycles. I’m guessing. Next to her is:
He’s the red-headed step child; New England’s own version of Oliver from the Brady Bunch. Our own personal small ball of “why?” And that leads us to the twins. I say twins because this next state is geographically bipolar. Divided by the city of Worcester (pronounced WOOS-tuh), their personalities are as oppositional as any two children could ever be. And that state is:
The child west of Worcester is the girl twin. She’s well-adjusted and lacking in any definable accent. She knows what she wants and that is to GET THE HELL OUT OF NEW ENGLAND. The twin east of Worcester is the boy twin, the one who calls you at 2 a.m. to come bail him out of jail because he:
A. Gave a Yankees fan a beat down.
B. Defended his position that Manhattan clam chowder is, by definition, not a chowder.
C. Beat someone who said something disparaging about Aerosmith or Godsmack or Denis Leary.
He’s the guy who doesn’t actually live anywhere; he just floats from couch to couch to couch. He borrows your car without your permission, drinks all your beer and steals your stuff. And even though you know he’s going to sleep with your girlfriend you let him in your house anyway because he’s just so damned awesome.
Just like any family we fight and spat amongst ourselves, but heaven help the punk who steps to one of us, because then he steps to all of us. Whitey Bulger wouldn’t be Whitey Bulger if he were from the midwest. Well, maybe Kansas. That place is like the friggin’ Twilight Zone. So the next time you cross the border into New England, roll down your windows and listen carefully; you just might hear our siren song: