How you'll know if you're really a Baltimorean

MICHAEL OLESKER

October 06, 1992|By MICHAEL OLESKER

The weekend's Fells Point Festival reminded us who we are: urban survivors in a chilly season, a melting pot of characters, a collection of people called Baltimoreans.

But what, exactly, is a Baltimorean? A brief identifying list follows:

You're a Baltimorean when you don't know whether to spend your money on an Orioles game or go to Europe for two weeks.

You're a Baltimorean when you assume the presidential debates will include all the major candidates -- meaning, not just George Bush and Bill Clinton, and not just Ross Perot, but Monroe Cornish and Melvin Perkins, too.

You're a Baltimorean when you hear the words "cultural elite" and automatically ask, "Where's John Waters at, hon?"

You're a Baltimorean when you think a condom shop has no place in Fells Point, but see nothing wrong in handing out condoms in city schools. Maybe the solution is this: If you're in Fells Point some night and need a condom, get yourself sent to the school nurse.

You're a Baltimorean when you miss Harry McGuirk, and his soft shoes, too.

You're a Baltimorean when you wonder who's spent more time in the water this year -- Anita Nall in swimming pools, or Glenn Davis in the trainer's whirlpools.

You're a Baltimorean when you hear the words Blue Cross or Blue Shield and realize the biggest thing they're shielding us from is the truth about mismanagement and questionable spending.

You're a Baltimorean when you hear of the closing of Simon Harris Sporting Goods and realize it means they're closing part of your youth. When you went to Simon Harris, it meant you were playing ball with the big kids.

You're a Baltimorean when your response to Esskay executives closing the old East Baltimore plant is to go on a hot dog hunger strike.

You're a Baltimorean when you think there's never been a more exciting radio jock than the man everybody called Fat Daddy. It's a decade since he died, and the angels must still be getting an earful from Paul Johnson.

You're a Baltimorean when you connect Druid Hill Park with the zoo, Patterson Park with soccer games, and Leakin Park with bodies in trunks.

You're a Baltimorean when you can remember thinking of a bushel of steamed crabs as a delicacy, and not an investment.

You're a Baltimorean when you pronounce "picture" as "pixture." Or, "power mower" as "paramour." Or "Orioles" as "greedy."

You're a Baltimorean when it doesn't really taste like a corned beef sandwich if you're not eating it on East Lombard Street.

There must be something in the air down there that makes a sandwich all that it can be.

You're a Baltimorean when you turn your radio to 60 on the AM dial and still expect to hear Johnny Dark playing phonograph records.

You're a Baltimorean when you think of the City Jail as the Fallsway Hilton. Of course, that's a nickname for those who've only seen it from the Jones Falls Expressway. If you've seen it from the inside, it's called hell.

You're a Baltimorean if you hear somebody call a cab, and you automatically think of Charlie Eckman.

You're a Baltimorean when you want to register for college classes that have been closed because teachers have been cut, meaning you can't get a diploma to qualify for jobs that aren't available anyway.

You're a Baltimorean when you laugh at reports from Washington that their pro football team might come to Baltimore if they don't get a suitable new stadium. In the first place, we don't want their football team, it belongs to Washington. And, in the second place -- well, there is no second place.

You're a Baltimorean when you see Dr. Ben Carson's misguided abortion commercial and realize that, as a television pitchman, he makes a very good brain surgeon.

You're a Baltimorean when you remember Mickey Steinberg as the savviest guy in government. On what grounds could anybody with brain cells lock him out of the action in such a tough time?

You're a Baltimorean when you know that, if you paid your rent as responsibly as the Orioles paid theirs, your furniture would now be sitting on the sidewalk.

You're a Baltimorean when you can remember walking around with a beer at the Fells Point Festival and nobody considered you a criminal.

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