Living in a new place, the most challenging aspect so far has been shopping in an unfamiliar grocery store. It takes me at least twice as long as it would at home. Good news is I am definitely getting more exercise as I wander around in circles, looking for hot sauce, literally muttering under my breath, “OK, it should be in the same aisle as pickles, but isn’t. Maybe it’s in the Hispanic section… No??? What the heck?! Ok, go check by the tomatoes. Or beans. Maybe it’s by the paper towels…” It is, suffice it to say, disconcerting.
Another thing that has thrown me off a bit is Mike telling me that his co-workers think we are the ones with the accent. They just love his accent. Read it like this, “We just luv ur ayk-seint.” Paradigm shift. I mean, don’t these people watch television and know that, clearly, they are the ones who talk differently?! Listening to the people talk in the store, I just love their accents! It’s as if they are from some foreign place. And then I realize, I’m technically the foreigner.
Being so discombobulated, I went looking for mint. Muttering, “Ok, it should be in the same place as the other herbs. There’s the rosemary, there’s fresh oregano… No? Why wouldn’t the mint be with the other fresh herbs?…” And I see the produce guy. He’s talking with another shopper. “Yes, ma’am. You just have yourself (three syllables) a nice day, now.” Pretty thick accent. The guy was as nice as a person could be. Friendly, welcoming, just as easy to approach as could be. So I do not know why, when I opened my mouth to ask for mint, some nervous British chick decided she needed to ask for me. “Might you possibly be able to tell me where the mint is located?” Complete with smug tilt of the head.
Did you see Meet the Parents? The scene– well, just about every Ben Stiller scene, really– but the scene where he and Robert DeNiro are talking about milking the cats? I swear, once I was stuck in that accidental lie (Who, for crying out loud, lies accidentally??), I didn’t know what to do! Do I continue with the British accent to cover up my awkwardness? If I do will he then ask me where I’m from??? I’d end up saying something like, “Oh, cheerio! I’ve just arrived from South Hampdenishire, north of Poppycocks. Bloody lovely city you’ve got ‘ere, Gov’ner!”
Luckily, I am self-aware. The minute the first word of my question came out of my mouth, my inner voice began screaming, “Lynn!!!! Stop! Stop RIGHT NOW! Oh for crying out loud, ‘possibly’? Really?? You said ‘possibly’ really weirdly. Stop! What the fuck are you doing???? Why are you lilting like that, you dork?! Jeez! You did NOT just add the word ‘located’ sounding just like Hyacinth (If you haven’t seen Keeping Up Appearances, it’s worth the time and it will help you understand that reference.), did you?!!“
Ok, so my self-awareness did not exactly keep me from getting into the situation, but it did ameliorate things by shutting me up after that first sentence. When the produce guy went to look by the other fresh herbs and didn’t find it, he said, “Well, let me see in the back if we have some, Ma’am,” I just silently nodded my head and smiled. And when he came out and apologized for not having any back there, I just generically said, “Not a problem, thank you,” as I walked away before he could get me to say another word. I don’t know what I will do if he is the produce guy working tomorrow when I go back to buy mint. Maybe there’s another grocery store in town…