For people not born in Michigan, there are certain behaviors we of the peninsulas exhibit that may seem peculiar to outsiders. It goes beyond wearing shorts and flip-flops in 40-degree weather. Surrounded by the lakes, we’re a bit isolated up here, and it seems as though our infrastructure may keep wayfarers from bothering to go out of their way to explore our territory. Maybe that's the reason behind the fact that we’re some pretty odd birds. But that's OK. We fully embrace our quirks, our passions, and our perpetual unseasonal flannel wearing. Here are the topics about which any Michigander could talk your ear off, should we be encountered in the wild -- you've been warned.
This Chinese Festival Is Like 'Frozen' Come to Life
There is perhaps no better way to determine whether someone is from Michigan or not than to watch the expression on their face as Seger’s blue-collar balladry takes hold. If you see someone tear up as soon as the band drops out in “Night Moves,” you know they’re from the Mitten.
Dipping everything in ranch dressing
Second only to the nostalgic effect of a summery Seger tune is the Michigander’s love of ranch dressing. Whether it’s on wings, fries, pizza, or hell, even birthday cake, you will not find a food product that cannot be enhanced by dousing it in this undeniably addictive and questionable substance.
Wearing flannel (even to a wedding)
There is never, nor has there ever been, nor will there ever be, an inappropriate time to wear flannel in Michigan. It’s the perfect fabric choice for all climatic conditions. There are even purportedly some holidays dedicated specifically to flannel in our Great Lakes State. But as we all know quite well: every day in Michigan is Flannel Day.
The Detroit Lions
We’re not saying you shouldn’t love the Lions. We’re just saying that it doesn’t really make much sense to love the Lions. One might say it’s almost irrational. However, we love that you love them. So keep on lovin’ them Lions. Maybe this is their year!
American vs. Lafayette Coney Island
The debate continues. If you ask anyone who grew up in or has spent time in Detroit, they WILL have an opinion for you. (And it might involve neither -- shout out to National Coney Island!)
Detroit (especially people who live nowhere near the city)
Speaking of which, you’ll never find as much Detroit pride as you will from people who don’t set foot in the city on a regular basis. The further west you go, the more the Detroit pride heightens. But only in sentiment -- when it actually comes to spending time in the city, it’s often a different story.
Call it artisanal, fancy, or just "not Stroh’s" -- Michigan is one of the capitals of the United States’ craft beer movement (waddup, Grand Rapids, aka Beer City, USA). With more than 100 breweries statewide, the state has garnered plenty of attention over the years for being a lover of highly potent and often flamboyantly flavored suds.
Hand over the dried, salted meat, and no one will get hurt. This is basically a good mantra to follow while traveling through Michigan. Whether it’s beef, venison, pork, turkey, or even muskrat (we wouldn’t leave you out, Downriver) -- dried, chewy meat has a place in every carnivorous Michigander's heart.
"Buy American" bumper stickers
The economy of Michigan has seen better days -- it’s seen worse days, too (we’re looking at you, 2006-2013, you pit of hell, you). Most people could tell you that Michigan’s biggest problem is the downsizing of its manufacturing base, and a few people would erroneously tell you that it’s because people don’t "buy American" anymore. Unfortunately, that’s not the whole story. As anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock should know, a large percentage of “American” vehicles are built overseas. But that doesn't stop us from plastering our bumpers with these vinyl stickers.
It’s a general rule that in places where it doesn’t get cold enough to have ice, people don’t really give a shit about hockey... unless, of course, you’re talking about Tampa, FL, which has both a hockey team and a ton of Michigan natives. Hockey is religion in certain parts of the state, as it should be. There’s nothing more entertaining than brutality on ice. We're full proponents of fights at the faceoff.
Ahem… this one is tricky. Wherever you stand when it comes to labor unions, you can’t deny that Michigan is one of the states that has been most affected by them over the course of its manufacturing history. Meaning, you’ll rarely catch a Michigander who's without an opinion when it comes to unions.
Going "up north"
This is basically anywhere north of Flint. All Michiganders reserve the right to consider “up north” a virtual playground of nature activities, or simply drinking beer on a dock. Going “up north” is simply what you do when it’s 1) a holiday weekend, 2) a weekend in general, 3) summer vacation, 4) someone's birthday, or 5) any excuse for an occasion whatsoever. Many Michiganders have homes or property in the northern reaches of the state, but just as many will lug a tent in search of their own tranquil paradise.
Using their hand as a map
If you, for some reason, have any trouble picturing the location of any of the aforementioned places in your head, reach for a Michigander and they’ll ever so gladly show you exactly where they’re talking about by using their right hand with eerie accuracy.
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Megan Frye is a Detroit- and Mexico City-based writer who LOVES dipping her beef jerky in ranch dressing. Tweet her photos of you wearing your favorite flannel at @fryechild.