While living along the Maine coast, I always had an ambivalence to the whole thing. First, I was from New York, the ultimate “from away” location, but I was “married in” due to my wife and her family. They’d been there since before the first Census. Nobody was going to call the Capn’s son in law a Summer Complaint. I also worked the same jobs everyone else did and did not have the money and leisure that many visitors had. All this got complicated by the fact that my natural New York accent was fading over the years in New England, and I was picking up and using local English. I was not a native, but I was not a New Yorker anymore, either.
What happened one day at the boatyard where I worked illustrates the issue.
Spinney and the yard crew were especially amused when folks from New York City would take me for a local. Spinney jokingly suggested that one Brooklynite ask me how locals pronounced items. If my looks could have killed, Spinney would have dropped on the spot. But I dutifully rendered the local pronunciation of things in my most inauthentic Maine accent. I felt like a performing dog. Off to one side, the crew struggled to keep straight faces. When done, I tried to explain to them that I was from Manhattan. They laughed so hard they turned red. Afterward, I promised Spinney that I’d get even.
Spinney turned to me and said: “now you know how we all feel when they ask us how lobster is pronounced, or how we say Bar Harbor. We’ve done you a big favor Wes…you don’t ask for “kaufee” anymore first thing in the morning.”
OK, I guess he had a point.