Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I'm Done


This post has its origins on a coarse at Whistler, and the drive home from there, it also has far deeper roots.  The need to write it happened today. I am done explaining myself.

It happens every time I meet a bunch of new people. It happened today at a job site full of new people. It starts off as someone else's small talk and becomes a tired lie.  There are three forms of the question in general. Where are you from? Are you from (insert western European nation or colony), and lastly, what's your accent.   Today I was asked "You're Irish or something?" I answered or something this did not satisfy.

The first question where are you from, may still get answered.  Only because it occasionally humours me to name a town far from anywhere that most people have never heard of.  What I will not do is follow it up with the answer they are expecting.  People who ask me these questions already believe I'm an outsider, perhaps an immigrant, there is a desire to put me in a box.  I will not give them a box to put me in.

The second question. Are You from X.  No. I am not from, Germany, Austria, South Africa, Holland*, Sweden, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Kansas, or whatever the regional accent you have assigned to me is.  Where am I from, Canada, I have never lived overseas, can't even afford to travel right now, and I can barely English on a bad day.

*Holland is least wrong, but only because my folks did immigrate to Canada from there, but I am not from there. Where I am from is a small town literally two hours away from anywhere, it sits on Nicola group sediments from the early Triassic and is a good place to be from.

The Third question, is the one that started me thinking. What is Your accent? I am starting to think I don't know. The traditional answer has been to blame the Dutch.  Yes I did speak Dutch for the first few years, and took on English a little late.  Yet neither of my parents have typical accents, and there was no Dutch community to rub off on me.  On those rare occasions where I have heard my own voice it is not what I have heard from other folk from the low country.  So to give a cobbled together story of family history, only to come up with an answer that is not accurate enough to be honest is no longer worth my time.

To answer that question again, What is my Accent. I don't know.  And if I answer with leading alternate hypothesis your small talk might get big in a hurry.

So to recap, I will no longer indulge strangers' desire to pidgin hole me, and I can no longer give an answer I don't believe in any more.  This may leave curious folk with a frustrating lack of answer, but the passing frustration of a person committing small talk is of no concern to me.  If you get to know me you may learn I am more interesting than a dot on a map.  And if you Honest and earn my trust perhaps we can talk about the alternate hypothesis.


Anonymous said...

Well said!

Alexander van Houten said...

Thank you. It has been simmering unsaid for years.

Monarch Brandy said...

You are one of the most interesting individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting... Professor ;)

Ien in the Kootenays said...

Great post. Your mother has been accused of having a Dutch accent. As for you, it was your Dutch uncle, years ago, who remarked: "he doesn't have an accent, he has a bit of a speech defect." You make yourself perfectly clear so It is not a big deal. Meanwhile I love the idea of people wondering about Nakusp.