You’re from away, aren’t ya?
Your guide to vacationing in Maine this summer
It was recently brought to my attention that in my last post, Welcome to New York! Now get out of my way, I may have come across as a bit, how shall I say, strident. Some might even say elitist or xenophobic. I don’t know, I’ll leave the choice of adjective to you. In any case, in the interest of fair play (and as part of my ongoing commitment to tourist safety), I’m taking the quite possibly unprecedented step of rebutting myself on this one with some advice for New Yorkers who plan to visit the great state of Maine this summer. Why? Well, for one thing Maine has fairly “relaxed” gun laws, and those objects you see bisecting the rear windows of pickup trucks are not golf-club racks.
Still doubt Maine is anything but bucolic and peaceful? Remember 1992? Maine went big for Ross Perot — AFTER the crazy CIA allegations. It gets all unhinged pretty quickly up there, folks.
Let me begin by reminding you that I am originally from Maine, where my people have been struggling to overcome boredom, the elements, black flies the size of vultures and an annual plague of out of state drivers for nearly 300 years. Well the drivers are a relatively recent development, but you take my point. As a native of the Pine Tree State, I have more than a passing acquaintance with the other side of the tourist coin, namely the influx of clueless, frequently overbearing, rusticating New Yorkers to rural Maine each and every summer. As I am an equal opportunity crank, I’d like to offer some advice to my neighbors from the Big Apple before they travel north in search of peace, quiet and a ten pound lobster.
Please don’t call us Maineiacs
It’s unoriginal, unclever and no funnier than when somebody first uttered it about a hundred years ago. We’ve all heard it a thousand times, as in “These Maineiacs are something else, Jerry. Don’t they know mixing plaids is so last season?”
Call us what we call each other please — Mainers, Downeasters, natives, locals, you dumb bastard/crazy bitch.
Don’t ask us for directions
For one thing, it is virtually impossible for most of you to understand the accent. Listen. And just so you know, after you’ve asked a Mainer to repeat himself three times, chances are you’ll be directed not to the best kept secret lobster pound you read about in Travel and Leisure, but to the local “transfer station” (aka the dump) which is almost invariably overseen by a loose agglomeration of closely related cannibalistic double cousins who are armed to what few teeth they have and maintain a stable of “pets” not found in any city pet shop. It can be difficult to locate the exits in such places without detailed local knowledge.
Also, bear in mind that for local people, not only are street names and exact distances generally meaningless, but crucial information is often lacking. For example:
Mason from the Upper West Side: Excuse me, sir, but could you direct me to Gott’s All U Can Eat Seafood Shack?
Mainer: Oh ayuh, it’s not too far. Just turn around and head up the road a bit till you see the big white house. It’s right there.
Translation: Drive three miles in the opposite direction you just came from. At Rte 113, turn left and continue on for 1/2 mile. At the third big white house (the one with the with the turquoise camper van parked next to the arc welder in the front yard), turn left and go four miles — past the Seaside Heights trailer park and the VFW Rod and Gun Club — to the second left, Rifle Reach. A mile down the road is the restaurant, right behind an eight bay truck garage. If you go too far, you’ll know it because you’ll start seeing POSTED NO TRESPASS signs and lots of tarpaper structures and big dogs. Under no circumstances turn around in the driveway; just back down the road.
Bottom line: Get a GPS device.
Stay out of the parking lots
Like the hapless Midwesterner at the top of the escalator at Bloomingdale’s, city drivers have an unfortunate tendency to stop in the most dangerous location possible for those behind them, in this case immediately upon pulling into a half empty parking lot. They just abruptly cease all forward motion for no apparent reason, leaving the half dozen vehicles behind them stacked up in the middle of an intersection, often with a fully loaded logging truck bearing down on them at about 80 mph. Let me tell you something folks, 15 tons of unrefined logs do not stop on a dime, and so it behooves us to get the hell out of said intersection, which we cannot do if you are clogging up the entry to the shopping center with your massive, white, pimped out, idling Escalade. Don’t assume that all that Bond-o on the locally registered vehicles is in response to salt damage; we don’t really care if we scratch OUR paint.
If in fact, some of you do manage to proceed into the openness of the lot, you seem to be confounded by the abundance of available parking spaces. In these instances, your normally hyperaggressive, take-no-prisoners, lay-on-the-horn driving style is overridden by granny-like timidity coupled with paralyzing indecision. This is dangerous because it really pisses us off. After having driven three miles with you halfway up our tailpipes despite the posted 25 mph village speed limit, and enduring your aggravated honking if we don’t peel out of each and every stop sign within a nanosecond of applying the brakes, we do not take kindly to being stuck behind your land yachts while your weak brains attempt to determine the most advantageous spot to dock.
Take my advice and stick to parallel parking. It’s one thing Mainers can’t do. At all.
Don’t order a five pound lobster
It makes you look foolish. Big lobsters are tough and old. The only reason restaurants sell them is because
idiots tourists “from away” will pay an arm and a leg for Godzilla’s mutant cousin, which will be inedible no matter how you cook it.
Not convinced? Then try and recall your Grandfather’s toenails. Got the image? I can wait for you to recover. That’s what happens to an elderly lobster’s shell. Save yourself the agony of trying to get through a three inch thick carapace and instead order two small soft shell lobsters, which taste far better and can be dismantled without the aid of implements you don’t know how to handle anyway.
Do not tempt us
This just invites abuse. You’d be well advised to leave the pinstripes and bling at home, but if you must stroll our towns, villages and beaches all Yanked up, at least turn your cap around and pull your pants up. And go with the Mariano jersey instead of the A-Rod one. Trust me.