The BDN Editorial Board operates independently from the newsroom, and does not set policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.
Maine has had a long list of official and unofficial slogans and monikers. Given the amount of people who don’t seem to realize that Maine is actually a state, we might need to add a new one to the mix.
The Pine Tree State. Vacationland. Maine — the way life should be. Those are some of the well-established names and phrases.
And if we might suggest a new addition: Maine — a real state, we promise.
In a recent story, Bangor Daily News reporter Emily Burnham chronicled the familiar experience of several Mainers who have encountered a similar phenomenon: People not knowing where Maine is or that it is a state. Those experiences likely resonate with many folks here in Maine, who may have needed to explain to someone at some point that, no, we’re not part of Canada or a figment of Stephen King’s imagination.
“I used to work for a medical supply company in the Portland area. People would ask where we were located, and when I said Maine, they would say, ‘We don’t do business with foreign companies’ and hang up,” Melanie Kollman, a real estate agent in Bangor, told Burnham.
Kollman was not alone. From the young Mainer asked if they went to orientation for international students when arriving at college to the Maine expat in Texas asked about “what” Maine is, we’d venture to guess that this has been a fairly common experience for many of us living or growing up here. Who among us hasn’t had to explain to some incredulous inquirer that Maine is a real place tucked in the upper-right corner of the U.S., “kinda near Boston” or “just below Canada”?
But yes, Maine is a real place and a real state. We’ve had that latter distinction for more than 200 years now, and the Wabanaki tribes have called this place home for thousands of years. While we can’t seem to agree on our state flag at the moment, we are in fact a longstanding part of the United States.
E.B. White had it right when he said, “I would really rather feel bad in Maine than feel good anywhere else.” Where else does the legislature get into spirited debates about whether the blueberry pie or the whoopie pie should be the state dessert? (They compromised: blueberry pie is the official state dessert and whoopie pies are the official treat.) What other state can claim lobster, paper and Anna Kendrick among its significant exports?
Mainers take care of business, take care of each other and try not to take ourselves too seriously. So we won’t make much of an existential stink about people questioning our existence. It’s actually kind of funny. But just for the record: We’re a real state, and a really great state.
“We’re real, though,” Burnham wrote in the recent story. “We’re just lucky to live in a place that seems like someone dreamed it up.”