An Open Apology to the Good People of New England
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Iíd like to apologize to the people of New England for my unacceptable behavior.

I apologize for my lack of sophistication. Iím ashamed of myself for not pronouncing ďcanítĒ ďcahnít.Ē And I promise to keep trying. Iím so very sorry that I smile at people on the street -- and that I, from time to time, make small talk with people who are waiting in line behind me in a store or chat with the girl behind the counter at the bagel place. Iím beginning to see the error of my ways, and I have no idea how I ever became this inconsiderate of others.

I blame this on my mother -- a dear, sweet, friendly woman who would do anything for anyone. I have no idea what possessed her to teach me to smile and be friendly -- or to look both ways before crossing the street, for that matter. I now know that she should have instead spent my formidable years training me to scowl and look trapped in my own angst as I stare at my Prada-clad (and perfectly pedicured) feet while I make my way down the street to the nearest Starbucks, not caring if anyone is in my path. They will, I now know, get out of my way. Cars will stop. Children will clear the way. Mud puddles will dry up. And little wild violets growing in the cracks in the sidewalk will whither and die rather than get in my way. For I am now a New Englander. Beware of my wrath.

I also blame my driving instructor, who taught me to maintain a constant speed -- something in the vicinity of the speed limit. Not 10 under. Not 20 over. He taught me to check my mirrors before changing lanes. To avoid other cars. He taught me that if Iím turning right and someone coming at me is turning left, I have the right-of-way. He taught me to be courteous. To share the road with my fellow driver. And now I wonder, What the *@!# was that old #?%^ing moron thinking? *~$@ him!

I apologize for not wearing pretty floral dresses with matching sweaters tied around my shoulders. I apologize for not being petite.

My ancestors did not come to this country on the Mayflower, and none of them performed any heroic acts in the Revolutionary War. Iím sorry for that, too.

Iím sorry that I donít use the word ďwickedĒ nearly as often as I should. Iím sorry that I havenít quite figured out that ďHaverhilloucesterbodyĒ is pronounced ďHoustahĒ and that I make a funny face when you say ďhowaya.Ē I blame that on my English teachers, who taught me how to pronounce things incorrectly -- and who failed to mention that most letters of the alphabet are purely cosmetic.

And finally, I apologize for laughing. Iím sorry that I think idiots like Adam Sandler (a New England outcast for good reason) are funny. I promise that itís just a phase. I blame that on my father, who taught me to be silly. But once I undergo my mandatory New England Humor Removal operation, Iíll be just fine. Give me a shot of Botox at the same time, and I promise never to smile again.

Blame who you will for my uncivilized behavior. But do not blame me. I was a child of the Midwest, where people are stupid and backward. I apologize for all of them, too.

Shun me if you need to. Scowl at me. Turn your nose up at me (Iím impressed by how clean New Englanders keep the insides of their noses -- of course Iíve noticed). But, whatever you do, donít allow me into your social circles. I may rub off on you -- heaven forbid! -- and what would people say then?

For more New England fun, see John Sheirer's essay, "The Massachusetts Cracker Jack Driver's Test."

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