Earlier this week I had dinner with my parents and some of their old friends (The Harrells) from before we moved to Delosa thirty or so years ago. Anyhow, I noticed something odd about the way that the waitress spoke. It was hard to pin down, but it seemed like she might be suppressing an accent. She would start out sounding strange and then within a few words it would come out normal. Sorta normal. Not accenty, but a little off.

After I noticed this for the third time or so, I commented on it to Mr. Harrell, who said that he had noticed something similar. However, he thought it was coming from the opposite direction. As in, she was very American trying to affect a foreign accent. She would slip into sounding normal because she would forget she was in accent mode. For some reason, Dad thought she was a he. Well, not entirely, but he was trying to figure out what was so strange about her.

Mr. Harrell was the one that had the courage to ask where she was from. Turns out that he was right and I was wrong. She was from a place in Kingsland that he used to live. They actually talked about it a little while. She was well-enough versed in the area and the local high school that there was no doubt that she was actually from there and not an illegal immigrant from The Czech Republic.

So he was right. Most likely. I still maintain that I might not have been wrong if the accent she was trying to bury was a southern accent. The pronounced potato “poh-tah-to.” My Aunt Evelyn uses the same sound. Po-tah-to instead of potato. Ont instead of ant for aunt. She was raised in the rural south every bit as much as my mother and other aunt were. But from a very young age, she sought to get out. Out of rural. Out of poor. Out of the south. She still lives in the south because she married a (wealthy) southerner who didn’t want to leave, but she is an anglophile that identifies more with Britain than the US in some ways. Along the way, long before I met her and before I was ever born, she slaughtered her accent.

But I think that just further proves that Mr. Harrell is right, though. Most likely she pronounced po-tah-to for the same reason my aunt did, because that’s the way that Americans think Brits pronounce the word. She faltered between this unidentifiably accented voice and this sort of… I don’t know… chrome… voice, but never slipped into a southern voice that I could determine. The chrome voice came off to me like someone trying to sound like an American by way of watching too many movies. But maybe not.

In any event, the speculation passed the time while my folks and the Harrells talked about a bunch of people they knew before I was born or before I turned four.


Category: Downtown

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2 Responses to The Waitress’s Accent

  1. Mike Hunt says:

    The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.

    –Eliza Doolittle

  2. logtar says:

    It is alien to me that anyone would want to fake an accent when they are local or native… specially when all of us immigrants are always trying to sound as local as possible.

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