“How To” Vermont
July 21, 2011, by Prudence Baird
Hollywood’s loss is Vermont’s gain, as Prudence celebrates her fourth anniversary and lessons learned in the Green Mountain State
For those of you who think that sparsely populated, Yankee-pure Vermont is the antidote to the ills of urban life, here is a quick set-up guide that will acquaint you with “how to Vermont.”
1. You kahnt get thay-yer from hee-yaw.
You can live full-time, own property and pay taxes in the Green Mountain State, but becoming a bona fide, card-carrying Vermonter is earned the old-fashioned way—you must be born here. Furthermore, your parents must have been born here; your grand-parents (both sides) must have been born here—and so on back for four generations. Seriously. Otherwise, you are considered a “flatlander,” even if you come from Machu Pichu or Boulder, Colorado.
2. “Massholes” are from Massachusetts.
Although Massholes come from the eponymous state to our south, you can also use this label whenever encountering an attitudinous anyone who is making an ostentatious show of wealth and power. Example: “That tailgater must be a Masshole.” (See “flatlander” above.)
3. Why the cold shoulder (and blank stare).
There is a waiting period of up to four years before a local shopkeeper, waitress or merchant will acknowledge that s/he has ever seen you before—even if you stop in every day to pick up your New York Times and latté. (See “don’t order a latté” below.)
4. Don’t order a latté, a “grandé” or a “skinny” anything.
In Vermont, you kahnt find a national caffeine-dispensing chain. So don’t use Starbucks-style language unless you want to identify yourself as a flatlander (or worse, a Masshole) worthy of an automatic five-minute delay for your order at any of our homegrown joints.
5. They’re called highways, routes and roads, not freeways and streets.
Using the term “freeway” will earn you ten flatlander points. There are only two major arteries in Vermont: 91, which goes north and south on the “east coast” of Vermont, and 89, which crosses over from New Hampshire and leads all the way to Canada, via our largest city, Burlington, population 43,000. With no more than four or five cars seen in a ten mile stretch, no in-your-face billboards (they’re against the law) and no annoying toll booths, the two lanes each way are undisputedly “free ways;” just don’t call them that.
6. No, this is not a statewide convention of Lesbians.
Eighty percent of all cars in Vermont are Subaru Outbacks, with a few Foresters thrown in for good measure. Never mind that the NY Times-owned “Top 10 Gay Cars” list regularly names the so-called “Lesbaru” as the number one car for Lesbians; about half of Outbacks in Vermont are driven by men. The other half are driven by women, some of whom may or may not be Lesbians. We are, after all, the first state to recognize same-sex marriage, so why wouldn’t you come here if you are LGBT? Just sayin’.
7. Throw out your gaydar.
Welcome to Vermont, where almost every woman over 25 will trigger a false alarm on your gaydar. For one, most women here look like a librarians, gym teachers, storybook witches (you know the type I’m talking about—with long, grey hair) or ski instructors. Chances are, if the woman is employed, she IS a librarian, a gym teacher or a ski instructor. There aren’t that many jobs in Vermont. There’s also a goodly chance she’s a witch, but more like the Wiccan type, not the Broomhilda type. But if you thought all physically fit women who walk and talk with confidence, who run Big Important Organizations, who farm, drive tractors, compete in marathons and don’t indulge in tortures like Botox, make-up, Spanx and stilettos—and, most importantly, appear as the great goddess intended them to—are Lesbians, you’re wrong. To paraphrase Gloria Steinem, this is what women look like. Which is why I’m staying here.