"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com

"The Jingle Bell Bum" (Read The Touching True Story...please!) Comment at patriciahanrion.com
Still available on Amazon for Nook and Kindle, hard copy booklett to re-print November 2013

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Mom, , Shut up! Muskrat"

Does anyone else have the problem of language accent copycat disease?  Gosh! OCD confirmation and now I admit my other problem, all my warts are hanging out!...Oh well...
It seems, or so I'm told that no matter what language I hear, or accent in particular, it doesn't take long for me to begin to talk like the other person who is talking.  It can't stay in my head...it just comes out my lips and lands most likely on unappreciative ears.

This ability is good for an actress, but not so good in our diverse society where everyone is oversensitive and the language police are ready to sue you.

This "talent" became a problem one time when I visited Rebecca.  It was January and I was there to help with the birth of her second son, Zachary.  (He came during a huge snow an ice storm on Jan 18)   It so happened that Becca and her husband were living in Upper Marlboro in a home owned by Harris's Aunt Carolyn.  She happened to be working in Japan teaching nursing at a university and asked Harris and Becca to house sit.

This town home was almost new and in a lovely area not too far from Washington D.C. where Harris worked so it was perfect for them to save money to buy their own home.

The issue came up that it was located in a predominately black area.  The people living there were business men and women and very friendly and generous.  During winter storms they would often shovel each others driveway at the same time they cleared their own.  It had a very neighborly feeling there.  Harris and Becca were one of the only white families living in this tight knit neighborhood.. 

So...back to my problem...The last thing Becca wanted to do was offend anyone she knew or even a stranger, so being aware of my little malady, she said..."Mom when we are around our neighbors, or any black people in stores or the mall...just don't talk.  If you forget, I'll remind you by saying Muskrat...and that means to shut up because you are imitating the black way of speech!"

"I don't do that on purpose!" I defended myself,  "but I'll try to not do it, it just comes out...It wouldn't matter if they were Irish, English or German, or from the south..it makes no difference...all of a sudden I become a native ...or whatever...speaking English with an accent.  I don't know what to do...the accent comes into my head and automatically come out...like a boomerang.  But I'll try to remember the magic word because I certainly don't want to offend anyone."

It was several days before Becca went into labor so i had the opportunity to go with her to the store several times.  We were standing in front of the frozen food section looking at the ice cream and trying to decide on the flavor to  buy when a huge black woman said in a friendly and kind way.  "Honey chile, see that there sign...you can get two for the price of one, and from the looks of you with that big tummy, you need some cheerin up, so ges get all the flavors you want, en yll feel better in a few days wehn it's all over...say...when you due...today? hehe..."

Becca responded..."Muskrat, muskrat...shut up mom"...under her breath, then louder in response to the woman, "Oh thanks, I didn't know it was on sale, I'm due in a few days and can hardly wait."

"I know how you feel, I got six of my own and they are the joy of ma life, a blessing and a curse...nice you got yer mama here to help."

I opened my mouth to respond, but Rebecca stepped hard on my foot and said, "yes, I'm glad she's here, thanks."

The woman continued on down the isle and Becca picked up two gallons of ice cream.

"I was good wasn't I?"  I questioned her while rubbing my throbbing foot.

"Mom, you almost blew it.  I could see it in your face, you were about to say something like mmmmum Honey chile, and sound like the south in a bottle.  I couldn't chance it.  You'll go home and I'll be left unable to shop here because they'll  think your a racist making fun of them....Look!, all the cash register ladies are black tool."

The next day, we went to a place near D.C. famous for ribs...they have bars on the front of the store and you stand in a line with others waiting for your turn to see the woman inside covered with barbeque sauce hold up on a hook, different racks of ribs for your perusal for you to decide which rack you want.  "Mom stay in the car with Jamie, I'll get the ribs."

It took a while but she returned and said in a perfect black immitation..."Had to wait for more ribs, those ones was too dri, not enough meat, or too much fat...so it took a while."

"Hey how come it's okay for you and not for me?" I asked. 

"The difference is, I do it on purpose, out of hearing distance of the folks it may offend, you on the other hand, have no idea it's emerging from your mouth, and the longer you talk the thicker and worse the accent becomes...so it's best for you...to Muskrat and not talk."

So I simply nodded and kept any words that came to mind...deep inside.  And if you ever hear anyone in the family say Muskrat around me...you'll know I'm about to say something with an accent or something out of place...I'm not sure how they know it's about to happen, maybe it's family telepathy or something, but I've discovered...they know, oh they know alright...and I need to listen for the magic words...Muskrat...and shut my trap.

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