Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Singin' those Rhode Island blues

Ahhhh, Rhode Island...

Before I blog about the beautiful fall foliage that was on the verge of hitting peak colors...

Before I tempt your seafood encrusted tastebuds with tantalizing tales of the tenderest clams, lobster, and scallops we feasted upon...

Before I wax poetic about the stunning coastlines, lush scenery, dramatic sunrises, and pounding Atlantic coast surf sounds that lulled us to sleep and awoke us every morning in our beach front cottage on R.I's southern coast...

I need to state for the record that Rhode Islanders treat their dogs better than they do their guests.

And I mean that in a good way.

From downtown Providence (pop. 175K) to the smallest bohemian trinket shop in a coastal town with 58 full time residents - shops would put out the welcome mat for canine companions complete with filled water dishes and piles of doggie treats stacked neatly by the entrance.

Nowhere in the world would I have felt so welcomed...had I been a dog.
As a tourist however, just the opposite was true.

Putting aside the rough and acidic Yankee dialect exhibited with pride and honor by a good deal of New England's two-legged population, there just wasn't a lot of warmth to be generated by the state's shopkeepers, grocery clerks, Dunkin' Donuts counter people, Ferry operators, Diner waitresses, coffee shop barristas, or even complete strangers on the street.

The Ocean State's expression seems to be the "scowl," the pervading sense of humor scale teeters on "lacking thereof," and the population's personality meter was hovering somewhere between defensive and obtuse.

And all this with a favored NFL franchise that has a currently unbeaten record, and their adopted MLBaseball team in a dramatic race for the pennant.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sure that the majority of tenants of this diminutive of all states are lovely folk and have much to offer in their own right.

But when after a week long stay that included dozens of restaurant meals, touristy trappings, special interest tours and a multitude of shopping opportunities, turns up only two people that exhibited the genuine human warmth and welcomeness that is so typical of just about any run-of-the-mill Okie, comparisons are destined to be made.

Never the one to condemn an entire population based on what was admittedly a small sampling of it's citizens, I donned my west coast So-Cal live-and-let-live cap and reasoned a perceived negative into a quirky positive.

In fact, after awhile I found the "charming arrogance" that Rhode Islanders displayed (not to be confused with the other irritating type that is blindly hooted and tooted by our Lone Star neighbors to the south), to be somewhat endearing.

My Oklahoma born and bred wife was not nearly as much convinced.

I likened it to the yappy little dogs that display absolute authority over their domain and nary a pack of pitbulls or trespassing human shall deter them from their defiant stance to proclaim loudly that what's theirs, is theirs.

Rhode Island may be just a mere pimple on the acne scarred face of the country, but Rhode Islander's don't want anyone else proclaiming the right to pop their zit.

And right they are.

And with that out of the way, on to Rhode Island and a little wonder from the sea known as a quahog.

Next up, "Our week without red meat."


Darren said...

Wow...I've spent a lot of time in RI and never experienced that. Maybe we're the same way here in Connecticut and I don't realize it.

I'm kind of interested in what town you stayed in. With so few south coast towns to pick from and my having spent many summers there, I might know a few places that you went.

Amelia said...

After receiving this type of "welcome"-aren't you glad you are now calling Oklahoma home?

OKDad said...

I've spent time in Conn. and Mass (last anniversary trip) as well but never ran into such a harsh wall of personalities as we did last week.

Stay tuned for more on our trip, where despite a shortage of warm and fuzzy faces, we had a wonderful time in a jewel of a state.