Welcome to Rhode Island.
Fall foliage, an election race featuring a beloved ex-con — it’s a magical time of year to join us. You moved here, so you already know the highlights of Rhody living, like world-class beaches and a culinary scene that routinely lands us
on national “Best of” lists (see “Eat this!” for more). But at the Phoenix, we believe it’s actually our shared grievances that bond us, and we want to make sure you feel like part of the community. You’ll know you’re well on the way to becoming a Rhode Islander, when you’re frustrated by any of the items on our list below. Because if you stick around here, you will . . .
. . . BE JUDGED BY THE SPEED OF YOUR DUNKIN’ ORDER
There are 177 or so Dunkin’ Donuts in Rhode Island. It’s one of the most densely-populated Dunk states in the country, and we take it seriously. Hardcore drinkers know which Dunkin’s are open on Christmas Day and which ones aren’t. They have opinions on which is the best of the five franchises that exist on North Providence’s Mineral Spring Avenue, alone. And they don’t mince words when ordering: “Medium regular.”
There will come a time when you pause a second too long before placing your order. Maybe it’s windy and you don’t hear the woman at the drive thru, or you’re distracted by a seasonally whimsical doughnut. Your faux pas will be evident by the beeping car horns or palpable wrath of the construction worker in line behind you. Save yourself the trouble and patronize a local coffee shop, like New Harvest or Seven Stars.
. . . DREAD TAKING YOUR FAMILY TO NEWPORT
Newport is the picturesque gem we use to lure tourists into our clutches. Passengers arriving at T.F. Green are bombarded with stands selling saltwater taffy, photographs of sailboats, and books detailing the 1953 JFK/Jacqueline Bouvier wedding and other famous inhabitants of the “City by the Sea.” Your mother will have read these books and want to visit Newport.
Don’t try to stop her. It won’t matter to her that it’s off-season and you’ll be battered with side-sweeping rain off the harbor. That’s what raincoats are for. Enjoy Parents’ Weekend at the Breakers.
. . . GET LOST BY A MISLEADING DETOUR SIGN
Here’s a scene. You’re running late when you come across a closed road. An orange detour sign points to the left. Beyond the roadblock, the street looks pristine, save for a pothole with a lone yellow traffic cone placed in the center. You consider plowing through the roadblock, but no, you’ll follow the rules and turn left.
Don’t expect there to be a follow-up detour sign. What that first sign really meant was, “Try going this way. Good luck.” If you’re lucky, you’ll only drive a mile out of your way. Considering Rhode Island a) is in a state of perpetual construction, and b) has had ample time to develop a signage strategy (the state was founded in 1790), all this can only lead to one question: is the RIDOT underfunded, incompetent, or merely mischievous?
. . . BECOME ENSNARED IN AN ENDLESS VARIATION OF “6 DEGREES of KEVIN BACON” WITH YOUR EX
You already know about that whole “smallest state” thing. Even if you turn your schedule and social life upside down to avoid your ex, there’s no such thing as a clean break in Rhode Island. As long as you both stay within state lines, your lives will be forever intertwined. Just try to accept that your roommate is cousins with your ex’s girlfriend, make liberal use of the Facebook “hide” function, and move on.
. . . WONDER WHO EVERYONE’S “BUDDY” IS
By now, you’ve been in town long enough to notice the campaign billboards for Providence mayoral candidate, Buddy Cianci. They’re sized to blot out the sun — or at least the signs of his opponent, Democratic candidate Jorge Elorza.
Once upon a time, speculation about whether former mayor Cianci would ever run for office again after his 2007 release from federal prison seemed like idle, cultural banter, like Chicagoans wondering if the Cubs will ever win the series. But now that Cianci is officially in the 2014 race for Providence mayor, everyone from your bartender to the woman in the cold cut line at the supermarket has an opinion.
Here’s our suggestion for how to deal: if someone asks what you think about Buddy and you aren’t sure, deflect the question. Ask if they’ve ever met Cianci. If you’re speaking to a true Rhode Islander, breathe a sigh of relief as they wistfully recall the time they sat next to Buddy at Providence Oyster Bar. Then take the time to get educated. Google “Buddy+Best+Mayor+Ever” or “Buddy+Fireplace+Log” to get the flavor of both viewpoints.