About a month ago, I met a lovely woman who lives somewhere in the U.K. Annie was in the States for business and we found ourselves drinking in the same hotel bar. She has the most delightful accent and we chatted for hours over cocktails. At the end of the evening, we exchanged email addresses and have been writing to each other ever since.
A few weeks ago, I gave her my phone number and she called me. "Mist, it's Ah-nnie," she said, as though I couldn't tell from her adorable accent. I just love the way she says Ah-nnie. We talked about and shoes and men and body products and shoes and even tried to have an intellectual exchange about politics (I am incapable of intellectual exchanges and segued back to shoes by asking what size shoe Tony Blair wears). The thing is, I can't tell if Ah-nnie has a sense of humor. She always sounds the same. I can't tell how she's feeling at all from her flat voice. I can't tell when she's excited or happy or angry. When she laughs, it is subtle. She sounds like she is mildly amused, but I can never illicit a hearty laugh from her.
I want her accent. After I talk to Ah-nnie, I try to sound like her all day. I think I sound more like a really bad high school production of Oliver Twist, but I live in the South. No one here knows any better and so I am comfortable sounding like an imitation Eliza Doolittle.
I decided that the next time Ah-nnie calls me, I will try out my new accent on her. Surely, that will make Ah-nnie laugh.
Yesterday, she called. "Oh, 'ello Ah-nnie," I said. "Can you 'old on, I'm in the loo." in fairness, Ah-nnie doesn't really drop her Hs like that, but it's my version of her accent, and I will make it as bad as I please. Ah-nnie told me to call her back and promptly hung up before I even got the chance to do my Oliver Twist bit in which I say, "Please, Sir. I'd like some more." It's really, very good. I have found that I can work that phrase into conversation at least six times a day. I even hold my hands out in front of me as though I am holding a tiny bowl. It's hard for me type that phrase without stopping to cup my hands in front of me. I say it when I order another drink, I say it at the farmer's market when the fish man weighs a piece of salmon for me, and I am dying because I simply cannot wait for someone to spank me just so I can use that line.
The fact that she hung up convinced me that my accent was believable. She must have really thought that I was in the loo. Pleased with myself, I sat down to watch a few minutes of Wallace and Gromit. I like to consider myself to be the scholarly type and I believe that the best way to learn about a group of people is to fully immerse yourself in the animation of that culture. Before I went to Japan, I watched countless animated films. I was practically indistinguishable from the locals, except for the whole part about not actually being Japanese.
As I was waiting for the call to connect, I wondered if I had offended Ah-nnie. I wondered if I had gone too far and if I'd be able to tell from her monotone voice. I also wondered how much the call was going to cost me. When she answered, I said, "Ah-nnie, I 'ope I 'aven't offended you."
Ah-nnie paused and said, "Look, I'm from Milwaukee. I've been working here for two months and I thought I'd try out the accent on you. I'm so embarrassed."
"You should be," I told her. "You didn't fool me for a second."
I grew up in the Midwest. I knew her accent sounded familiar.
PS: Thanks for everyone's submissions for the Carnival of the Mundane. If you haven't submitted something to me yet, hurry up and do it. The longer you wait, the more wine I will have consumed, and the more likely I am to screw up your link.