Researchers in the field (hay mostly, but occasionally they wandered into the corn) have identified 10 distinct varieties of New Englanders. Which one best describes your personality?
The Word Miser
If a picture paints a thousand words, this New Englander draws postage stamps with disappearing ink. Neighbors still recall the red-letter day in 1983 when he spoke two successive sentences, to the dismay of locals who had longstanding bets that it couldn't be done. His patron saint is Calvin Coolidge.
This is the person from away who's trying too hard to fit in. Easily identified by the brand-new flannel shirt, Carhartt overalls, and barn jacket, although the closest he or she has ever gotten to a barn is the local Pottery Barn.
The Rural Reporter
This hardworking soul maintains a detailed database of everyone else's business, including major and minor scandals, surgeries (emergency, elective, and "I can't believe she did that"), as well as appearances in the local police log. She works her sources tirelessly--aided by smartphones and Facebook--though her information system will probably still be working when those are shut down by power loss, hackers, or an overabundance of cat videos.
The Perpetual Politician
A born bureaucrat, this person has held every elected office, served on every board, and headed every commission in town. Dreaming of political greatness (but unlikely to rise higher than Registrar of Lawn Ornaments), these folks are greatly appreciated by friends and neighbors, who otherwise would have to go to all those meetings themselves.
The roof leaks, the snowblower won't start, the toilet sounds like Mount St. Helens--who you gonna call? This guy. If they ever filmed a Survivor: New England, he'd be the winner, and he's a good guy to have on your team. The downside: He's got a story for every occasion and delivers them in a never-ending stream. Being forced to listen to them is the real price you pay for a working toilet.
The Gentleman Farmer
This guy made millions on an app that turns your iPhone into a lint brush, but these days raises wallabies and grows heirloom turnips on his 300-acre farm in Vermont. In his spare time he collects early American espresso machines and delights friends from Los Angeles with tales of how he takes his own trash to the dump.
Often spotted at Town Meeting, this sort is opposed to everything as a matter of general principle. Using a three-point scale (newness, expense, difference from the way we've always done it), the contrarian will oppose ideas that everyone except those forgetting to take their psychotropic meds agrees are simply common sense. *A close relative is the Crankum knowitallia, the person who knows a faster way to get there, a better way to make that recipe, and the true cause of the French & Indian Wars.
This true Yankee reuses teabags until the results are hard to tell from a cup of warm water. The male of the species generally gets married and buried in the same suit (which came from the thrift shop to begin with) and won't turn on the heat until icicles are forming in the shower. Females have been known to bring home leftover coffee from potluck dinners because it would be a sin to waste it.
The Bygone Hippie
Also known as the Faded Flower Child, this character moved to New England in the '60s, which she believes are still going on. She feeds her sheep (Janis and Jimi) organic oats, drives a Subaru powered by vegetable oil, and attends forums on the Politics of Nuclear Power and Its Effect on the Role of Nicaraguan Women in the Whaling Industry. Still listening to Crosby, Stills & Nash.
The Affluent Eccentric
Heir to the Wisk-a-Way toilet-brush fortune, this character dresses like a street person despite having more money than Uzbekistan. He or she can often be seen at the market buying dented cans, at the library reading the free copy of the Wall Street Journal, or just wandering the streets mumbling about the Trilateral Commission and the price of walnuts.
All photos/art by Mark Brewer