by Doug Norris

A collection of cultural signposts.

Originally published as "The Rhode Islander" in Norris' Blog on the Halfshell, May 3, 2010.

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy built a career out of one gag: "You Might Be a Redneck If..." Readers of my Independent column, "Flotsam and Jetsam," occasionally endure an Ocean State spin on that idea called "You Know You're a Rhode Islander When..." In honor of tomorrow's anniversary of Rhode Island Independence Day, I thought it might be a good time to revive the feature, borrowing liberally from my old columns, with a few new one-liners in the mix. So...

You Might Be a Littleneck If...

  • The world is your quahog.
  • Joe Mollicone still owes you money.
  • Celebrity means a float in the Bristol Fourth of July Parade.
  • You were there when Dylan went electric.
  • You order a cup of clam chowder and the waitress asks if you want red, white or clear.
  • You think of your inferiority complex as a superiority complex.
  • You've never met an adjective that couldn't be improved by placing the word "wicked" in front of it.
  • Not even Martha Stewart can come up with more ways to use pizza dough.
  • You still call Twin River "Lincoln Downs" and remember betting on the horses before it went to the dogs.
  • You take the interstate just to find out how high the Powerball jackpot is today.
  • You can pronounce words in Italian, Portuguese, Narragansett and Wampanoag better than words in English.
  • You elected a Whitehouse to Congress.
  • You consider coffee one of the humors.
  • More people you know follow sailing than NASCAR.
  • You've eaten a Wimpy Skippy and a Murder Burger.
  • You've never eaten at Long John Silver's or Red Lobster.
  • You see your first snowflake of the year and wonder if there will be school in Foster-Glocester.
  • You know someone who claims a family heritage that dates back to both the Mayflower and the mob.
  • You have a Buddy story.
  • You think a whole season of "The Amazing Race" could be built around trying to get from Watch Hill to Woonsocket.
  • You once dangled a souvenir in a bucket behind home plate at McCoy Stadium to get a PawSox player's autograph.
  • Your first experience going "all the way" was at a New York System Weiner joint.
  • You once brought a date to a horror movie at the Rustic Drive-In.
  • You accidentally click on your directional signal while driving and worry that the blinking green arrow is a sign of engine trouble.
  • You think all ping-pong balls come with numbers on them.
  • Sometimes you like to go to package stores just to browse.
  • You've given lottery tickets as stocking stuffers.
  • You have a boat in the yard that has never been in the water.
  • You believe that breakfast should have no curfew.
  • Your second home is about a fifteen-minute drive away from your first.
  • NBC stands for Narragansett Brewing Company, not National Broadcasting Company.
  • You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need at Ocean State Job Lot.
  • You bought tickets for the Broadway show Wicked thinking it was about Rhode Island.
  • It doesn't feel like Christmas until you see the colored lights gleaming on the giant New England Pest Control termite overlooking I-95.
  • You never have to worry, because you know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy.
  • You have a Blizzard of '78 story.
  • You choose your news channel based upon how much you trust the meteorologist.
  • Hiking the highest point in the state is the equivalent of five minutes on the Stairmaster.
  • It's twenty-below zero outside and the clerk at Dunkin' Donuts asks whether you want your coffee hot or iced.
  • You order it iced.
  • You once took the Awful Awful challenge ("drink three, get one free") and lost.
  • You know the menu at Gregg's by heart, but always ask to see it anyway.
  • You've been to Pawtucket, Pawtuxet and Pawcatuck (Connecticut) in the same day, but missed the whimsy.
  • You like your termites at least fifty-eight feet long.
  • You're suspicious of white eggs.
  • You can identify every condiment in the relish tray at Newport Creamery.
  • You call a night watchman a "security god" and the metal boundary that sometimes replaces a Jersey barrier a "god rail."
  • You call a national sports radio show to mention how you were reading about "the PawSox in the ProJo while waiting in line at Benny's" and expect the rest of the country to understand you.
  • You have friends on the East Bay who will never meet your friends on the West Bay.
  • You believe that a community can never have enough pharmacies or convenience stores.
  • You'd rather listen to a foghorn than the radio.
  • You've eaten a spinach pie at the beach.
  • You've got one headlight out but prefer to think of the glass as half full.
  • After you retire, you check the obituaries, your Powerball numbers and the weather, in that order.
  • You've eaten one clam cake too many.
  • You kind of miss the old Jamestown Bridge.
  • You think this could be the year that Miss Rhode Island makes the final cut.
  • You'd like to see how the Big Blue Bug would do against Mothra in a cage match.
  • Going out for coffee is always Plan B.
  • You don't think of brown, green and red as colors but as a university, an airport and a chicken.
  • You prefer the counter to the booth.
  • You've used a quahog shell as an ashtray.
  • Hearing the word "Baywatch" makes you think of Trudy Coxe, not Pamela Anderson.
  • When it comes to corruption, you think that Rhode Island is like a Spinal Tap amplifier: It can go to 11.
  • You still have nightmares about driving endlessly around a Ring Road.
  • You have six degrees of separation from a Cardi brother.
  • In your neighborhood, lawn animals outnumber live ones.
  • You think people who aren't willing to haggle shouldn't hold yard sales.
  • Your epitaph reads: "YOU KILLED ME."
  • The world gets a little fuzzy north of the Blackstone and south of the Pawcatuck.
  • Some of your favorite musical memories occurred at a barn in Matunuck and a tent in Warwick.
  • You once ran a red light because you were distracted by the Dancing Cop.
  • Someone invites you to a night of bowling and you ask, "Big ball or small ball?"
  • You grew up thinking everybody ate fish sticks on Friday.
  • When you hear the phrase "nectar of the gods," you think: "coffee cabinet."
  • As your last meal before being executed, you'd go for the buffet.
  • Somebody on your block owns a retired greyhound.
  • You divide the world into Autocrat people and Eclipse people.
  • Your GPS unit comes with a setting that gives directions by landmarks that no longer exist.
  • You throw out your car's alignment by hitting a pothole and figure the next pothole will take care of it.
  • You judge people based on their condiment choices.
  • You see the monster in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and think, "all-you-can-eat calamari."
  • Every time you scratch, you hope to see dollar signs.
  • What happens in Hope Valley stays in Hope Valley.

Doug Norris is the Arts and Living Editor for the South County Independent and a regular contributor to Art New England magazine. He was born in Providence, moved to Tennessee, Boston, South Africa, Indiana, Fall River, Barrington, New York, back to Barrington, up to New Hampshire, here and there, and back to Barrington again. "In a life of anchor and sail," he says, "Rhody's my anchor."

This article last edited June 20, 2010

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