Idiosyncrasies that make a Baltimorean a Baltimorean

Jacques Kelly

January 02, 1992|By Jacques Kelly

You know you're a Baltimorean when...

*You regard red traffic lights as mere nuisances. Baltimore's penchant for red-light running is legendary. In Baltimore, red is green.

Pedestrians and bicyclists also act as if they have a universal right of way. Our "Don't Walk" signals are installed merely to edify the occasional convention of visiting traffic engineers.

* You'll double-park when half the street is free of parked cars. A friend from Kansas City pointed this out to me. "People here would rather double-park than [make love]," he said.

*You have violent arguments about crab cakes.

*You judge a restaurant by its cole slaw.

*You bypass Haagen Dazs ice cream for a frozen custard with dip-top on Ritchie Highway.

*You'll kill for real peach cake, cinnamon cake, or sour beef and dumplings.

*You serve macaroni and cheese with Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Ditto, the famous sauerkraut.

*You have a box of ribbon hard candy open over the holidays.

*You ask for mayonnaise on a submarine sandwich (and everything else).

*You like gravy on your french fries.

*You drink iced tea year-round and exhibit a similar passion for Royal Crown (ArCee) Cola.

*You think of Hendler's egg nog ice cream at this time of year.

*You usher all guests into the damp basement (euphemistically known as the club cellar) for a party, even though there is a warm and dry living room with comfortable chairs. The offered club-cellar seat is invariably a rusty folding chair.

*You prefer chain-link fences. No fussy New England pickets here. Also, you like tomato plants secured to chain-link fences with old nylon stockings.

*Your wardrobe still contains garments with labels from Hutzler's, Stewart's, Hochschild's and Epstein's. You regard clothing from failed department stores as heirlooms.

*You still tease your hair, even if it isn't as high as it used to be.

*Your trouser cuffs are above the ankle.

*You announce with pride that your best topcoat was bought at a church bazaar or used-clothing shop for $3. Or better yet, you reveal the coat once belonged to a deceased uncle. For sporty events, you wear a three-quarter-length coat. You love sportcoats that resemble auto upholstery.

* You still wear black to funerals and have a healthy fear of cemeteries.

*You carry a shopping bag.

*You never park your car in the garage. Garages are made for storage of household articles. Streets and curbs are made for cars.

*You embellish your license plate with gold chains.

*You still use the term "carfare" for MTA tariffs.

*You park with the knowledge that meter ordinances are more vigorously enforced than the laws against mugging and house-breaking.

*You secretly believe in dream books.

*You keep a jar of Dr. Gordshell's salve (made with rosin and beeswax) in the medicine cabinet.

*You regard the marigold and cockscomb (celosia) as the loveliest flowers in the garden.

*You insert "the" in front of York, Belair, Harford and Reisterstown roads.

*You get butterflies in your stomach when driving over the Bay Bridge.

*You regard Coca-Cola syrup as an excellent cure for what ails you.

*You display a geographic ignorance of the city when someone asks for directions. And, when you give directions, two or three of the landmarks you mention will have been torn down years ago.

*You feel that neat school uniforms are preferable to high SAT scores.

*You honestly regard the Inner Harbor as a foreign part of Baltimore that has nothing to do with the rest of the city and has been created to extract money from visiting busloads from Trenton.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.