I have a Southern accent. I know this. Sometimes it’s more prominent than others…but it’s there. Since moving to a place where the way I talk is decidedly different from most people, I have become a little self-conscious.
Recently, I was in a meeting for work, when in walks this man. Not two words had come out of his mouth and I knew – a Southerner! He had the drawl, the y’alls, and just the right amount of twang. Of course, he was equally delighted when he heard me speak, and we started gabbing about what parts we grew up in and how we ended up in the big, bad city. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized, I actually missed hearing people talk in this special Southern fashion. Before our meeting was over, we had exchanged numbers and he insisted that I ‘tell my mama I met a nice, Southern boy in Chicago who would help me if I needed it’. (I should also mention that this man is 20 years older than me and homosexual, so this was not a come on in any way.)
Sometimes, it goes completely unnoticed (or at least it isn’t commented upon). Sometimes, I will meet someone new, and they will immediately ask where I’m from. (see last post) I’ve started my newest job teaching at an elementary school, and many of my new students have asked about my accent:
Do you have an accent? Yes, I do. Why do you talk like that? Everyone talks like this where I’m from. Are you from Texas? No. Are you country? I didn’t grow up on a farm if that’s what you mean. And my personal favorite: Are you a cowboy? Why yes, little 1st grader, I AM a cowboy. I rode my horse from Chicago to the suburbs, and after school I plan to rope me calf! At this point, I usually explain that I’m from Mississippi and at least 10 kids volunteer to spell it for me. Spelling Mississippi is not such a big deal when you grew up there.
I suppose my fear is people will hear the way I talk and make assumptions about me based solely on my accent and hometown. This may sound silly, but I’ve heard stories from my friends. They’ve met people who assume that in Mississippi we don’t wear shoes to school (we do) and our roads aren’t paved (they are….at least most of them).
Some people say they love my accent….so, I guess it comes in handy. Even charming, if I’m lucky. There are worse things than being known as the girl with adorable Southern drawl. So, I’m trying not to be ashamed or embarrassed by the accent, it’s who I am. And God as my witness, I will say ‘y’all’ until the day I die.