Git That Baby Born
My parents are from New York, so when I was growing up in California, I loved listening to my mom and her sister talk on the phone in exaggerated New York accents. Neither of them really had thick accents, they just liked to pour it on when making fun of our family. I thought it was hilarious and worked really hard to get that accent down. This came in handy when I played Fanny Brice in a local production of Funny Girl. When we did the first read-through, I went FULL New York and everyone was like, “Wait, how do you already know how to do that?” And I was like, “Umm I dunno, it’s just a family thing…I’ve had a lot of practice.”
When I was in high school, my best friend and I occasionally spoke in accents, too. We were Russian supermodels for Halloween our senior year (Zoolander had just come out) and we spent the entire day posing with fake cigarette holders and speaking in heavy Eastern European accents. Another time, we were at the Levi’s store in San Francisco, speaking in British accents for no reason, and these actual English shoppers were like “Oh my GOD, where in England ahh you from??” I moonwalked out of the situation while she struggled to piece together information from when her mom lived in London as a rebellious teenager.
After college, I worked at the front desk of this fancy hotel and I was so fucking bored all the time. If I got a guest with a cool accent, my game was to speak back to them with that same accent in a very convincing way. I soon realized that problems arise if you’re TOO convincing and they start asking questions — a lesson I should’ve learned from the Levi’s store fiasco. Once I was tawking to this guy from Bawston and I got totally busted. He was like, “Oh my GAWD what HIGH SCHOOL didja go to?” While staring down at the front desk, I revealed that I was born in Massachusetts, but then we moved to California. I conveniently left out the part about how we moved to California when I was three months old.
In New York City, I encountered a ton of Australian and English tourists at the 1950’s dress shop where I worked. I’d learned my lesson well enough at this point not to go too far, but I’d mimicked accents for so long and so often that it started coming out accidentally. I’d walk a British client to her dressing room and she’d be like “Cheers!” and I’d accidentally reply in the exact same way, “Yeahhh cool!” And then just hold my breath and pray she didn’t notice.
Later, I assistant managed this yoga studio, and a lady called once to put her membership on hold because she was pregnant. She was so nice and soooo Southern and honestly I don’t know what happened. All I know is that we were best friends and suddenly I found myself saying, “Don’t worry honey, you just gotta git that baby born!!” Thank JESUS this was over the phone.
The Southern thing continued for a while. I am straight up from California and have no business speaking with a Southern accent, but I don’t know, I had a crush on a guy with a drawl for a while, and then I worked with this sweet girl from New Orleans. Everything they said just sounded so PLEASANT. I also feel like it’s really difficult to get mad at someone who oozes Southern charm, so I reserved the accent for dire circumstances.
Like once, my friends and I got trapped at the exit of this parking garage in San Francisco. For whatever reason, the gate wouldn’t lift up and there were a bunch of cars behind us. Surely a riot was forming, so I took it upon myself to approach the car behind us and apologize for the delay in the most charming Southern drawl I could muster. “Y’all, ahh I am just so SORRY.” Were they mad at me? Of COURSE not.
Another time, I missed my bikini wax appointment and they left me a message about it. I was scared they would charge my credit card for the missed appointment, so I called and left this insane two-minute message in the most Southern Belle affectation possible. I found out later that they give zero fucks about missed appointments and definitely don’t charge you for them.
I have since done my best to remedy the accent thing because I know that it’s super weird and off-putting. I guess I just wish I had a cool accent, but I should probably accept that I’m from California and move on. I am who I am. That’s just life, y’all.