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Santa Barbara, Ca

I'm a full-time rambler and contract designer with as many skill sets in my quiver as there are plane tickets in my passbook. I've worked in ornamental iron, jigsaw puzzle design, bookmaking, glass engraving, and a variety of other mediums. I'm currently living out of a backpack as I trek my way around the world.

Blog

Indeed I Is, Me Ol' Cock!: Screeching into Hono(u)rary Newfoundlander Status

Zak Erving

After a ten-second crash course on my intensely fickle and all-manual camera, Michael Ciuffini cranks out this unedited shot. Unreal. (Image courtesy of Michael Ciuffini)

"Welcome to the rock," my cabbie cheered upon picking me up at the airport in St. John's, Newfoundland. Her accent was noticeably thick, and for a minute I wondered if I had been flown a little too far and landed in Ireland instead. Even in the darkness of the cab, I could see her hair was red as the girl from Brave, and I wouldn't put it past this woman to know how to bend a bow. Or sing a dirge. Or pound a Guinness.

But her main concern, other than getting me to my friend's house, was to make sure I had made time for Screeching In, an elaborate Newfoundlander ritual that involves local hard liquor (Screech), bologna on a toothpick, kissing a cod fish on the lips (or ass), and call-and-response in local dialect. For instance, if you're somewhere in the world and hear the question, "Dat you?!," your response is: "Indeed I is, me ol' cock! And long may your big jib draw!" Colorful word-flourishes like this are par for the course during the ceremony, and even when sober they're just as fun to shout.

Shooting "Newfoundland's Finest Rum" is probably as necessary to visiting St. John's as getting your vitals taken at the emergency room. It's the meeting point for visitors and regulars, because at one point, all of the locals have been Screeched In as well. In a roundabout way, it's a turning point in self-awareness. But that could just be side-effects of the rum.

Partakers are awarded an ornate certificate endorsed by the Newfoundland/Labrador Liquor Corporation; surely the best kinds of souvenirs are the ones that confirm something important happened. But the best part is remembering how welcoming everyone in St. John's was, and knowing that when I return, I'll be bringing along my status as an hono(u)rary Newfoundlander.