Accented

Back when I lived in Miami, I ate a lot of food. It was my first time away from my parents. It was the first time I could buy exactly what I wanted. And I ate what I wanted, whatever that meant.

 

Usually, it meant a lot of chocolate and fried foods. That was something we almost never had growing up. We rarely ate out. We rarely even ate pre-packaged foods.

 

For example, things like McDonald’s, and Taco Bell, and Chef Boyardee, and Fruit Loops; I didn’t have until I was an adult. So you can imagine, I went a little overboard when I moved out. I actually gained about 20 (much needed) pounds in just a few months.

I’ve still never eaten most of these things.

Every Friday I would cash my paycheck and go to this seafood restaurant. The only seafood I like is fried clams. And I fucking love fried clams. So, I’d eat my big plate of fried (as I always call it). Fried clams and french fries with ketchup, which is almost a food group for me.

 

I really shouldn’t have Googled this at this time of night. It has awoken a hunger in me that can only be slain by fried clams.

After a few weeks, I was more or less a regular to the restaurant. I kept getting the same, VERY unfriendly waitress. She was much older and was very rude to me. She would talk to me as though I were stupid and sometimes I would see her eyeing me suspiciously from across the restaurant.

 

I generally ignored this. I mean, it was probably my imagination. I had done nothing to her. I was an excellent tipper. And I tried to not be too demanding. But her dislike for me was unmistakable.

 

One day, after going there maybe six or seven times, the waitress came up to me. With a forced casualness she asked, “So, where are you from?”

 

“Here?” I answered slowly. I thought maybe she thought I was a tourist.

 

“No, I mean, where did you grow up?” She was looking at me with open suspicion.

 

“Florida.” I was really confused now.

 

“Where are you originally from? Where were you born?” She was getting impatient with me now. Like I was hiding something from her.

 

“I was born in Florida.” I can be very thick and I was still not getting it.

 

“Where are your parents from?” She was up in my personal space now. Grilling me.

Now I’m hungry and just posting random pictures of fried food.

That’s when I finally got where she was going with this. “Well, my mother was born in Florida. My father is from Ohio. Why?”

 

“I don’t like you coming in here. I can hardly understand you when you order. You have a very thick accent. I know you aren’t American.”

 

Readers, some of you know me in real life. I don’t even have a Florida accent, let alone a foreign accent. But I am very used to this type of reaction.

 

However, this woman was the worst. She refused to believe I was from this country. And she made several comments to me about how “dark” I am. (I hear I look like various non-white groups all the time, usually Hispanic).

 

Finally, I “confessed” that I was from Czechoslovakia (it just popped in my head). She triumphantly exclaimed that she knew I had been lying and went back to being rude and giving me the evil eye.

Did you guys know that I eat fried foods when I am stressed? It helps.

But she had made me so uncomfortable and unwelcome that I never went back to that restaurant again. I am older now and would probably report someone that treated me that way, but I was 17 and so unsure of myself.

 

I have been told for my entire life that I have an accent. As you all may recall, I had to learn to speak English as a child due to an accident.

 

In high school I was at a my boyfriend’s guardian’s party. Someone sat down and chatted with me for 10 minutes before interrupting our conversation to tell me “You speak very good English.”

 

To which I idiotically replied, “Thanks.”

Now I am just torturing myself.

I found out later they thought I was also a German exchange student, like my boyfriend.

 

And at my current job, I have customer’s asking me all the time if I am Canadian or European. This happens on an almost weekly basis. But they usually believe me when I say I am not.

 

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17 thoughts on “Accented

  1. Good grief, that’s nuts. How rude!
    I grew up in a wholesome household, too. I thought. Until I met my friend HME, who had never even had canned veggies or fruit, and she gained a good 20lbs the first year of college, too. From food in a box — mostly crackers!

  2. I am not too sure what crack people are smoking these days…I never once thought you spoke with any accent. Heck, you really don’t even have a Southern drawl.

    Perhaps she thought you had an accent because you speak grammatically correct?!?

    I dunno, what do I know. Born in Taiwan and people always ask me (in Spanish BTW) if I am Mexican. I just don’t get it sometimes…

    • Well, I always thought you seemed pretty obviously Asian, though I do think it is very rude (and racist) to even mention someone’s race. I don’t see why it is ever a subject that needs to come up unless the other person wants it to. But then, I do have three Asian cousins, so I guess that makes me some sort of expert on recognizing other ethnicites. People are so idiotic.

  3. I once had a guy try and convince me that I had an Australian accent. He just kept pressing and pressing about where in Australia I was from, and I was like, “Dude, I can’t even name half the states and territories in Australia,” and he was all, “AHA, but see, you know they have states and territories,” like that meant anything, and he didn’t let up until his wife showed up and told him in two seconds flat that I did not have an Australian accent and to leave me the hell alone.

    I really don’t understand why stuff like this matters so much to some people. Can you really not make it through a simple business transaction without pointing and yelling, “OMG LOOK HOW DIFFERENT YOU ARE WHY ARE YOU SO DIFFERENT?” Is this a critically necessary part of your day, singling out anyone who isn’t as much like you as you think they should be?

    Sometimes I think this kind of B.S. is why aliens won’t contact us.

    • Or maybe the aliens have contacted them and warned them to be wary of anyone with an indeterminate accent/appearance just to screw with us. Aliens could be racist, you don’t know.

      • That’s true. The stereotype is that any alien race that’s managed interstellar communication/travel must be more intelligent and culturally advanced than us, but there’s always the possibility they’re just a bunch of jackasses who got lucky.

      • Well, we’ve managed to travel our solar system without resolving those issues. Technological intelligence doesn’t necessarily mean societal/racial intelligence.

  4. How did I never see that post about your childhood accident? I was also in speech therapy in grade school – but I asked my mother the other day WHY – and she had no idea. I guess we’ll never know. It must have worked, though – since I went on to work in the communications field for a long while.

    Now that I’ve read this post, I’m seized with the desire to call you and talk so I can judge for myself if people are idiots or if it actually sounds like you have an accent (I’m leaning towards the people are idiots theory). I’m also seized with a desire to eat a big plate of Fried for dinner.

    • Mmm…fried….

      I can assure you, I have no accent. Just a generic, American-y sound going on over here. But if you are dying to hear my voice, feel free to email me your phone number and I will call you and attempt to either converse or leave an awkward message on your voicemail.

  5. Man, oh man! I think at 17 you could’ve used me as a friend because I’d have had NO PROBLEM telling that racist trash what’s what. I once did the whole teeth-sucking, chicken-head, neck-roll thing when an uncle of mine pointed out that when I’m mad I have a heavier “Spanish” accent (his code for “You speak like ghetto-trash”). I think my exact words were something like “So WHAT!? (*emphatic chicken-head neck-roll*)”.
    On the other hand, I asked my ex-husband when I was much younger if his sister was deaf (because of the way she spoke – she sounded hard-of-hearing; if that’s even comprehensible…). So I guess I was a bit “judge-y” once upon a time as well. 🙂

    • Yeah, I was a shy little flower. And now, I am some kind of weird bromeliad from an alien planet. So I could have used a loud mouthed friend. In fact, I still can. Who cant?

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