Last week I was visiting my sister in California. We’re really close and we had a Blast together. We walked, we shopped, we cooked, we talked, we drank wine, we watched funny YouTube videos, she shared her iPod playlist with me. It was just The Best. Our last day together was killing us because we knew we had to part that afternoon. So we decided to spend the entire day speaking with British accents.
We used to do this as children because we worshipped Hayley Mills. We wanted to be Hayley Mills. And we really sounded like little English children. We were very good. So that afternoon we start talking like we work for the BBC but we soon realized that actually our accents are rather bad. We sound like British ex-pats who have been too long in the States and have lost their plummy BBC English.
But we do the best we can all day and she drives me to airport and comes in with me and we look at the schedule and bollocks! my flight is two hours delayed. So we decide, well, why not have drinks and dinner?
We walk into the restaurant and my sister leans over to me and whispers, “We’ll have to stop with the accents now.”
And I replied, “Whatever for?”
So we sit down and the waitress comes and says, “Hi, how are you? What can I get you to drink?”
And I reply, “Why I think we’ll have two Margaritas!”
She asks, “Cadillac?”
And I say, “Splendid!”
So we have this marvelous dinner—arugula salad with blue cheese, pears and pecans, a roasted Portobello mushroom with sun-dried tomatoes, melted mozzarella and fresh basil.
After dinner, we got into a discussion about how we felt like completely different people speaking this way. I, for one, spoke less, because I was aware that my accent was not perfect and I found it so much work. But also, I said to Lynie, “I can’t be loud. It doesn’t feel right.”
And she said, “Yez.” She said that a lot, “Yez.”
And I said, “And I suddenly feel it wrong to criticize how people are dressed.”
Then I said, “You know friends have told me that when they speak French they feel like entirely different people.”
Because inside I really did feel different. Who was this person? Who was this quiet, accepting, thoughtful woman? Clearly she was me so where is that Me when I am American?
Could it be that speaking with an accent is perhaps a way, a strange, weird way, to explore your inner self? What if it’s a way to discovering who you really are?