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"
"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".