This weekend, I flew to Warwick, R.I. to attend my 15-year high school reunion.¬† For this blog to make sense, you should know that I lived in the Ocean State for five years, to the day, between 1987 and 1992.¬† Born in Milwaukee, my family moved to R.I. when I was 13; I stayed on the East Coast for college, then moved back to Milwaukee in 1996.
I went solo to the event, opting against bringing my wife, who would know perhaps two people at the party. (It's not that I didn't want to prove to people that the kid with braces, big glasses and "A Flock of Seagulls" hair married a beautiful wife -- rather I'd like to show her where I lived during a less stressful, more laid-back trip).
So, for the first time, I sought to pay enough attention to my surroundings that I could properly explain what it's like living in this tiny state. It's been five years since my last trip (and just my fourth or fifth in 15 years), so I finally had enough distance, I thought, to view the weekend with an objective eye.
Arriving Thursday night, the first thing I noticed, of course, was the accent.¬† When really strong, picture how a New Yorker would sound -- after he's been punched in the mouth.¬† It's not just different pronunciation -- it's the syntax, colloquialisms and entirely different words that we're used to in Milwaukee.
Above and beyond the obvious dropping of R's, Rhode Islanders drop G's, too ("shopping" becomes "shoppin").¬† They also use adjectives like "wicked," "retarded," and "queer" with reckless abandon, as they did when I got there in '87.¬† The concept of "PC" language doesn't resonate even with educated, enlightened people like it does here -- which isn't to say these people are homophobes or insensitive, because the majority are not (full disclosure: I found myself slipping these words back into my vocabularly within just a few hours at the "bah").
They call purses handbags. Subs are grinders. Milkshakes are cabinets. Cream for coffee is cal…Read more...