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Friday, February 25, 2011

When I Realized I was a Hick

Growing up I was acutely aware that there were places much larger than my home town. Places where there weren't endless rows of cornfields, chickens, fourwheelers, and Friday night Bingo at the fire station. But I never cared and never thought my way of growing up was far different than any other kid.

Yeah I was naive...

Heck, I'm still naive. But that's beside the point.

I never realized just how backwoods and backroads I really was until I began bussing tables at an affluent touristy restaurant when I was a teenager.  That's when it was made clear to me that I was 'different' than most people.

The restaurant I worked at was the type of establishment where you made reservations.  Boys took girls there for a fancy and expensive dinner before prom.  My boss would yell at me if the knives faced the wrong way or the forks weren't in the correct ascending order next to the plate.  It wasn't the type of place you went to for a drink and some appetizers and I made quite a bit of money working there.  

People loved my little girl charm.  I was just barely fourteen.  I don't even know if places hire fourteen year olds anymore, but ten years ago you could work when you were just out of middle school so you could save up and buy a super sexy Pontiac Sunbird Convertible that leaks. 

I drove that car for six years.

And then sold it for $800.

I also swear I saw it just a couple months ago.  


The customers that came into the restaurant were, more often than not, of the upper crust of society.  They wore cardigans in fancy knotted ways on their shoulders, drank seltzer water, and understood when and how to use an oyster fork.  I also discovered that these types of people had a quaint interest in little country girls, of which I was the perfect specimen, when one couple asked me a simple question...  

"What's your name?" said the well groomed woman wearing a shiny string of pearls and polo shirt. 

"Jee-ann" I replied with my southern accent that I never noticed a day in my life prior to this moment

"Jan?  What a pretty name." 

"No, it's Jee-ann" 

--blank stare--

"You know, Jee--ann"  I repeated my name slowly as if the woman was hard of hearing.  

--continued blank stare and awkwardness brewing--

"J.. E..ANN."  I spealled out to the obviously confused woman and her husband who was trying to stifle laugher. 

"Oh.. you mean JEN"  the woman pronounced my name without a southern drawl.  

That's when I realized that 'Oh my God, I sound like a hick'.  I turned nineteen shades of red and then left their table completely mortified as the husband and woman began chuckling amongst themselves at what had just transpired.  To them I was just a cute little country girl who pronounced her name with such a drawl that no one with a normal dialect could understand it.  I spent the rest of the day carefully practicing how I said my name under my breath as if I was communicating with unheard voices.

Not only was I a hick, but I was weird. 

It took years of being embedded in northern New England to shed my southern drawl and replace it with a thick "R"ed Vermont twang.  At least when I say my name now it sounds like "Jen".


Old Centennial Farmhouse said...

Oh my gosh, I just love accents, especially of the southern persuasion! I want to know why hoity toities like that look down their noses at others when they sound so darn plain! :0)

Love your blog Jen!!

Snappy Di said...

So funny... some folks never lose the twang, but that's okay.


Kristin said...

I live in the South and was raised in the North. I'm the one with the accent. LOL. You may have sounded like a hick, but I sound like a hoity toity Yankee....well, you know the rest of the phrase.

Smile Steady said...

I looove southern accents. Mine doesn't really count as southern, but people will often point out that I have one. Not sure what it sounds like, though!

And you know you're gonna have to make a video/vlog/something now so we can all hear it, right? :)

Rosanne said...

Hilarious! We lived in Alabama for a few years. One day I was at the grocery store deli counter placing an order and the girl waiting on me asked me where I was from. I told her Pennsylvania...she told me that I had a funny accent. I wanted to laugh because I could hardly understand anything SHE was saying. :) One of the funniest things they do down there is call McDonalds-MacDonalds. Cracks me up every time I hear it.

mountain mama said...

that is funny, funny. great post!!!

we lived in the south last year and i totally couldn't understand some of the men. but, southerners have a heart of gold.

i have known all types of people and down to earth, hard working people who aren't snobby are by far my most favorite!

:) have a great weekend.

Jen at Cabin Fever said...

I like your idea Smile Steady, but I haven't seen my old video camera since we moved :P

And thanks guys! I think its hilarious now too! My 14 year old self thought otherwise... haha

Beth said...

I've always considered my self a bit of redneck, but hopefully a bit more refined than the general stereotype. I grew up on a dairy farm, so you really have no choice but to be a redneck.
We are Yankees (Michigan) that moved south (North Carolina) for five years. Phone conversations were difficult at first since I couldn't understand a word they were saying. My son had to start speech therapy when we were there and he still says some things with a little southern twang. Can we say counterproductive?
We have now moved to Alaska and boy, do we have our very own special kind of redneck up here. It puts all other rednecks to shame.

kittyhere said...

I envy you making it to age 14 before having an experience that made you feel like a back road, back woods hick.

Growing up in the Upper Valley region in the 1960s-1970s I can not remember ever being unaware of the 'summer people' or the 'Hanover' crowd.

I still find myself floating between all types of folks & not feeling I fit into any given slot.

I did not waitress until I was 18 but I firmly believe everyone ought to spend some time in food service because you learn so much about people (and yourself) in that kind of work. And most the women who make being good waitress their lifetime work have people smarts you'd be hard pressed to find in many well-heeled or well-educated types.

Mel said...

Here's to all of us rednecks! Nothing beats living in a small town. Excpet growing up in one. When I was a little girl I dreamed of the big city, then I moved there for six months after I was married and couldn't wait to get out. And I always wished I had a southern accent. So consider yourself lucky.

msam said...

I never noticed you saying your name weird....hmmm...hope that doesn't mean I had the hick accent too. said...

Funny post! Made me smile. I used to work Mail Order for company that sold (among other things) country hams. Many times, customers from areas - other than the south - would want to keep me on the phone even after they finished placing their orders - just to hear me talk!
Our last name is Keen - but many times, people will think I'm saying Kane. They're the ones with the accent if they think that!


Jeff said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing it.

andycallie said...

I moved to North Carolina and totally needed a translator. I had to call my co worker after company meetings to get the lowdown on what our boss had said. It was like living with hundred's of Larry the Cable Guys.

beingbree said...

Wow Jan, i am having so much funblog trawling today and as I am jumping onto blogs via The Pioneer Woman I am learning a lot about American bloggers (I am from Australia). I am just loving reading your entries, you have a beautiful 'voice' when writing and keep making me laugh. Though I cannot believe you manage to maintain a blog with all of your 'real' jobs!!! Well done.


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