I’ll admit it; I haven’t always been a Delawarean. Growing up in the wilds of East Africa, I traded safari boots for a cowboy hat to become a permanent resident in 1999. It was quite a culture shock coming from Kenya to Delaware, but with frequent visits to the library and a daily dose of MTV and Comedy Central, I adapted to American life.
I learned to be a Delawarean by watching other Delawareans. I watched people greet each other and noted how they said goodbye. I practiced the accent to mask my own. I did whatever I could to blend in. When you’re the legal alien in the room, all you want to be is invisible—the fly on the wall—absorbing what’s going on around you.
I grew happy to call the First State home. I became accustomed to our Delawarean ways. Like the way everyone knows everyone else, or the way we pronounce the word water, or our insane love of all things Capriotti’s. (I’m looking at you, Bobbie.) We may not be a big state, but we have a great sense of pride.
Delawareans like the simple things: sports, beer, beaches, food. We love the Phillies, or the Eagles, or the Ravens. In summer we head to the beach. In winter we down bratwurst at Oktoberfest. We love lots of stuff. But what do we hate?
Let’s talk traffic. We don’t have it as bad as some states. But when Delawareans get in traffic jams, it’s for stupid reasons. I lived in Newark for years and have never understood what the hay is going on with Elkton Road. It’s an obstacle course of cones, backhoes and construction workers. First the lane shifts to the left, then to the right, and then it veers off into nothingness. How dangerous is this?
Now we have the tragic mess otherwise known as 141 North. If you plan on driving it during rush hour, just open your windows, turn down your music, and listen to the cacophony of expletives and angry roars from the drivers sandwiched next to you. It’s a construction nightmare. Nice.
Here’s a big no-no: Never call a beach in New Jersey a “beach.” Delawareans get hopping mad when you do that. When you go to the beach in Jersey, you go down the shore. If you are heading to Rehoboth, Dewey or Bethany, you do the beach. I mention this in case new residents are reading.
My biggest pet peeve is being forced to endure the question: “Delaware? What state is that in?” Yes, I have often been on the receiving end of that one. I’ve been asked about Delaware, Ohio. I have been given the blank stare, and I have even had someone ask if Delaware was a country. Do people still take geography class? Nothing gets a Delawarean more livid than when you’re unaware that the First State exists. It’s the First State, for crying out loud.
But even with all the craziness, the construction and misclassification, I’m proud of the old blue and gold. I’m happy to call Delaware my home.
Now I really must go. I have a hot date with Bobbie.