We all love to poke fun at each other, and most of us like to poke fun at ourselves. But some things are just a guaranteed to either enliven or ruin any dinner party. So for any newcomers, pay attention to this list and tread carefully – you don’t want to end up putting that foot in your mouth. Here’s 15 (mostly good-humored) ways to make any Clevelander mad.
1. Insult the Browns
Look, we know that the Browns are having an off… few decades. But we’ll also show up in droves for every game swathed head-to-toe in brown and orange, with hope and belief in our hearts. So we’ve earned the right to yell insults at the TV, and the car radio, and in the stadium. Just like a big sibling, only we are allowed to insult the Browns, because we do it with love.
2. Say that you prefer Columbus
Don’t get me wrong; Columbus is a great city. They have some good bars, and a soccer team, and Ohio State. Oh, and it’s also the capital. But Cleveland has great bars, and the Cavs, and
character. We also have better beer.
3. Doubt Cleveland's ability to triumph
Whether it’s saying that the Indians have no chance to make it to the World Series (feel silly now, don’t you?), or that the auto industry is doomed (it’s been growing for four years, now), we don’t want to hear it. Like LeBron James said, “everything is earned”. Cleveland has earned what it’s fought for through all kinds of hardship.
4. "Pass through"
No one likes to hear that their city has been overlooked on a road-trip, or "just a short layover", and Clevelanders are no exception. We have so much to show you, so many places to go, so many things to see. There’s a bit of a chip on Cleveland’s shoulder about being overlooked, so take the time and come join us. We promise you’ll have a good time!
5. Not have eaten at Melt
There are a lot of restaurants in Cleveland, but everyone has eaten at Melt, and everyone loves it. Not having been to Melt inspires cries of "What?" and "How?" and "Why?" more than any other place in the city. Woe betide your local tour guide/friend if they haven’t taken you there. On the bright side, if you get a Clevelander mad enough about this, they might just take you themselves!
6. Ask “Isn’t that from Pittsburgh?”
Whether it’s a person, a brand, or a beer, when you’re in Cleveland, it’s not from Pittsburgh. Don’t take the risk, google it first, if only so you have evidence when people insist that you’re wrong. Don’t even mention Detroit.
7. Stay in your neighborhood
Every neighborhood in Cleveland has its charms, but transplants tend to stick to the western suburbs like Lakewood and Ohio City. While these neighborhoods are awesome, and fully self-contained, it’s also easy to forget that there’s a whole city out there. Get out and see some different restaurants, different people, and more exciting things to do.
8. Drive the actual speed limit on the Shoreway
Now just to be clear, no one is condoning speeding, here. But it’s also fair to say that not one Clevelander has adjusted to the lowered speed limit along the Detroit Shoreway. It fell from 60mph to the residential crawl of 35mph in just a few months.
9. Choose Heinz mustard
The first strike against Heinz is that it is actually from Pittsburgh. The second (and third) is that Cleveland produces two much better mustards. Stadium Mustard and Bertman Ballpark Mustard both have their loyal followers, and the rivalry can be tense. But the one thing that everyone can agree on is that Heinz isn’t even in the running.
10. Talk about how bad the weather will be
As someone who moved to Cleveland from Australia and is yet to experience a “real winter”, people here take sick pleasure in reminding me just how cold the winters are. But this conversation is a one-way street: everyone here knows how bad the winters are, and they don’t want to be reminded. Especially not by someone from another city.
11. Assume that Drew Carey is the only famous person from Cleveland
All respect to Drew Carey, but Cleveland has produced so much talent. Musicians and bands like Tracy Chapman, Kid Cudi, and Nine Inch Nails; actor Tom Hanks and poet Langston Hughes started their careers here. As well as this, Cleveland has produced author/academics like Toni Morrison and Judith Butler who have changed the face of gender and race theory not just in the US, but across the world.
12. Wear the wrong gear to the wrong game
This one is contentious: some will argue that if you’re supporting Cleveland, it doesn’t matter that you’re wearing a Browns jersey to a Cavs game. Especially on laundry day. But if you’re new to Cleveland, it’s worth investing in at least one item for each major team so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb at the stadium or the bar. (Pro tip: wearing all black, or a neutral ‘Cleveland’ shirt is an acceptable alternative, and will not offend anyone, although you might have to verbally confirm your allegiance.)
13. Being a fair-weather fan
It’s pretty easy to be a fair-weather fan, especially if you’re choosing a team for the first time. But Cleveland fans have waited a long time for the Cavs to win a Championship, and a long time for the Indians to make it to another World Series. Overcoming hardship is built into the bones of this city, so Clevelanders may get mad when people jump on the band-wagon without having to whether years of disappointment first. This goes for giving up support for a losing team, too: Clevelanders wear rooting for the Browns through their worst losses like a badge of honor, proving their dedication to the city they love.
14. The Fire We Don’t Talk About
So the Cuyahoga River caught on fire once. Several times, actually, due to pollution from industrial waste that built up in the river over a century or so. From a photo published on the front of Time Magazine in 1969, the Cuyahoga River fire became a national symbol of industrial environmental degradation. While this improbable event is a source of dark amusement among Clevelanders, it hurt the city’s reputation and is still used as ammunition by people trying to drag it down. In fact, the outcry over the fire (and more generally, industrial pollution), championed by the then-mayor, helped to create the federal Clean Water Act of 1972.
15. Discount Cleveland before you’ve even been here
Like many Rustbelt cities, Cleveland has an unfairly bad rap. But once you visit you’ll see the life and vitality and hope that makes this city so great. Amazing restaurants and cafes are popping up by the dozen, the artisan beer, coffee and food scene is thriving. Creative arts from dance to print-making are flourishing with the revitalization of the Gordon Square Arts District and the Superior Arts District downtown. There’s pop-ups, markets and more fun, interesting, and informative events than you could possibly attend.
What else would you add to this list? What’s a sure-fire way to rile up a Clevelander?