Acid Neutral is an artistic expression of entering life gloriously post- divorce. All writing and artwork including and excluding the AcidNeutral Art Project, by Clara G. Herrera, is copyrighted under AcidNeutral Art LLC. All work produced by Clara G. Herrera is copyrighted under AcidNeutral Art LLC
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Speaking like a hick doesn't matter. Now, I have a voice.
Photo by Clara G. Herrera (Yep, those are my real boots.)
I was eight years old in Tye, Texas when I began trying to sequester my hellacious West Texas accent that I didn’t even know I had. Another gal and I were talking to the teacher after school. I was in third grade.
Mrs. Key showed us a photo. I said, “That’s so purty.” “No,” the girl corrected obstinately. “The word is “pretty.”
“No,” I retorted, just as obstinately. “It’s purty, as in beautiful.” My teacher kindly put her hand on mine and said, “No, she’s right, honey, the word is pretty.”
I was dumbfounded, embarrassed. I was born in Athens, Greece, for Christ’s sake, the hub of democracy, but spent age four to 18 in the hub of Tye and Merkel, Texas where my accent was formed.
Since that single digit third grade day, I hid my drawl as best I could like a Hick Pandora’s Box. Oh, it fluttered out every once in awhile, when I was really tired, had a few too many libations, or when I lived in Pennsylvania and couldn’t hide it from the Yankees. (No offense to Yankees, of course.)
When HuffPost asked me to film one of these #TalkToMe videos, that was actually one of my main concerns along with what would my lovely daughter who just trekked across Texas taking photos of her middle-aged mama wearing a wedding dress would ask me.
What will the world think when they actually hear me speak? The southern accentis even getting lost, so excuse my Paris, Texas French but there ain’t that many of us hicks left.
I grew up in the country walking on dirt roads among mesquite trees and hay fields. My daughter, Rachael, grows up in the city. There ain’t a mesquite tree for miles and all the roads are paved. She has no accent that I can tell.
I don’t think I would be amiss in saying that some folks judge you by your accent. I could listen to British people speak all day long and think they were smart just by the lilt in their voices. They all sound like they went to Cambridge or Oxford.
And Yankees always talk so fast you think you missed something and what you missed must be some kind of intelligent drivel.
But those of us who speak slow with a drawl, well that’s another story. I could be making all kinds of assumptions, but I think that we are seen as on the lower end of the linguistic totem pole.
If My Fair Lady had been filmed in the South, Liza Doolittle would have been called Mildred Jean Lee and would have practiced the locution of saying, “firewood” instead of “farwood” and “can’t” instead of “cain’t.” Henry Higgins would have been called, Hank, just in case you wondered.
With a Texas accent I could say ostentatious all day long, theorize my views on Einstein, Feynman, and Tesla and converse intelligently, but at the end of the day, I think people would just walk away saying, “Did you hear her accent?”
Now, I have to put a caveat here. This is what I used to think.
My accent once was an embarrassment to me that I reserved only for my children, students, and people who were close to me. Then after launching myself into the world in a Divorced Bride Acid Neutral Art Project wearing a wedding dress, all bets were off.
I don’t give a cow patty thought to what people think about how I speak anymore. I used to hide the Texan speak because I was afraid people wouldn’t take me seriously.
Now that I’m older, I realize I don’t care, as long as I have a voice.
Well, that’s purty much it. Enjoy our #TalkToMe and record one of your own.
(Enriching Music: That’s Right (You’re Not from Texas) by Lyle Lovett, my favorite Aggie. That’s saying a lot because I’m a Longhorn.)