SITTING NEXT TO A CELL TOWER There has never been any mistaking the fact that the Adirondack mindset is a unique one, not always easily translated to summer folk, second-homeowners, day-trippers, or fearful people just stopping for gas on their ways to Montreal or points south. And thats probably for the best. The average Blueliner has learned through brutal experience that being only half heard, somewhat misunderstood, mysteriously vague, deliberately obtuse, slightly mistrusting, publicly stoic, privately reticent, nearly qualified, closely guarded is the only way to survive the half-year encounters that must be endured with flatlanders, downstaters, and outsiders, including Tug Hillers, Saratogans, and a certain percentage of Queensburians.
Communication even between like-minded Adirondackers can at times be problematic. Iced telephone lines snap like telephone lines covered in ice in the winter time. (Wait a second . . . No, never mind.) There are not a lot of cell towers marring the park yet, and theres no iPhone service anywhere near here. Not only because there isnt any AT&T Wireless service in this neck of the woods, but also because the name of the product itself seems so blatantly egotistical. i Phone? A true blue Adirondacker who owned a device that referred directly to its owner would be the equivalent of having an expensive brand-new foreign car. Youd be shunned and rightfully so.
So what about a BlackBerry, you might (if you were insane) think? Please. Blackberries are something we fight black bears hand-to-claw for the right to eat. (Luckily, this summer the local bruins seem focused on garbage cans dumpsters, leaving the local berry crop for humans to harvest without the threat of the big bitey teeth.)
Which brings us, somehow, to the topic of text messaging. The Star Trekesque communicator of the suspicious present and the dubious future.
Ever since The Blair Witch Project was presented in nearly all Adirondack theaters as an actual documentary, North Country men and women have shyed away from using symbols of any kind in their rare written interpersonal messages. It is all plain numbers and letters, shortened or deliberately misspelled or misused words and phrases. The same is true for those few who are text-messaging with their cellphones (which they hate; people can reach their spouses anywhere now, where before you could be gone for days and not have to explain yourself.)
Following are fifteen typical Adirondack text messages. Use them as a Rosetta Stone, if you will. A compendium that will put you in the proper mindset for divining the meaning of the text messages of your homegrown friends and neighbors. Note that any mistranslation of instant messages based on the examples in this column are solely the fault of the reader. Any tragic, semi-tragic, or friendship-busting misinterpretations are yours to straighten out.
(I have never been to Albany.)
First, this message conveys the level of national and international travel one has achieved. Second, it implies that sender is unlikely to have been in contact with any diseases that would exist only in locales as urban as the state capitol. Third, it is an admission of a local elected official admitting that he or she has never once represented his or her district effectively or in person.
(I have never seen Plattsburgh.)
A more troubling admission than the previous message. Implies the current and future limitations of ones life. Do not date this person if you have intentions of ever shopping in Burlington.
(Why didnt you marry your cute cousin?)
A perfectly legitimate question regarding a friend or neighbors romantic life. Also gives you the possibility of making a run at the cousin yourself.
(I do not ice climb.)
Proof of intelligent life on the other end of your cellphone. Someone who does not need to impress anyone with pointless life-threatening activities. An admission that deserves the utmost respect, and a free round to the sender.
(Do not throw-up in my pickup truck.)
A deadly important message to send to a drunken friend or family member who has called you from a bar, tavern, or kegger for a safe ride home. Applaud the sense of responsibility, but be appalled if dinner makes a second appearance.
(I stop for road kill.)
An important key to a grocery shoppers habits that can help you determine whether or not youll ever accept a dinner invitation to the individuals house.
(I wont plow your driveway.)
A gentle refusal from a local person to a summer home owner who is in the park for the holidays. You may be here to ski on Christmas day, but pray to the deity of your choice that it doesnt snow while youre here.
(Are the summer people still here?)
If they are, it is officially leaf-peeping season. If theyre not, it is officially window-peeping season.
(I do not fly fish.)
If youve ever watched someone fly-fishing, then you already know its worse than ballet. And lord knows youve never been to one of those. The only proper way to catch fish is with lures, night crawlers, or cherry bombs. All waterproof. All equally effective.
(I love chilled Jagermeister.)
And who doesnt? The favorite late-night shot in many an Adirondack tavern, frequently reserved for weekends as a special treat.
(I ate all your venison while you were in Myrtle Beach.)
A complete betrayal of a friendship, yet completely understandable. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is one of three acceptable vacation destinations for Adirondackers. (The other two being Disney in Florida, and Ottawa during Presidents weekend or school spring break to skate the usually unfrozen frozen canal system. You can usually see 80% of the people from your hometown on line for the tour of the Canadian Parliament Building every day the canals are pure mush.) The uninvited venison gorge is an act of appropriate jealousy if someone cant afford the drive down to South Carolina and weeklong rental of at least a single wide.
(I charged you for 6 full cords of firewood but only gave you 4 face cords.)
A literal in-your-face, after-the-fact admission of a classic ripoff. If you cant tell how much wood your gettin when youre gettin it, thats your problem, city boy.
(That guy ripped-off every last vegetable I grew in my garden this year.)
A sad state of affairs that coincidentally occurs when New York State Trooper helicopters are practicing mysterious maneuvers at treetop level in the park.
(I won a special ticket on Saturday night.)
The most important thing about this unmistakable message is that is not admissible in court as evidence and does not constitute a guilty plea. Please see 5th Amendment, Bill of Rights.
(I eat all my meals at Stewarts.)
Also known as John Wilkes Boothin It, what single, divorced, and wife-out-of-town-supposedly-on-a-shopping-trip-with-friends men do for sustenance. Do not approach this booth unless youve got a lot of time on your hands, and really want to hear every opinion this man has about every subject in the world.
(Please do not make me cross-country ski anymore.)
A genuine please for mercy from someone experiencing intense inner thigh cramps in deep snow. Honor the plea, but be sure to take the person first thing early the next morning.
I really love television
and hate those Forty-sixers.)
The ultimate Adirondacker admission, and the opinion held by fully 98% of all year-round residents, this is never text-messaged to anyone who has not appeared on the published Foreclosure due to Taxes Due list at least three times in their lives.