I’m seriously thinking about hiring a dialect coach. It’s really the last option. You see, I’ve lived in Houston for five years now and I pretty much consider myself a local. I can drive while applying make-up, drink sweet iced tea, turn my air-conditioning down to 68°. Okay, I don’t do any of those. But I could. You know, if I wanted to.
I’ve identified and taken steps to remedy the things that mark one out as being fresh off the boat. Having bad teeth. Wearing socks with sandals. Not tipping. Using phrases like "bother, I forgot my brolly", "I need to nip to the loo" and "he’s just gone out for a fag". I’ve even had some success at containing my smirk reflex when I overhear someone talk about fanny packs, or men wearing pants and suspenders. (Yeah, still funny.)
Yet, now and again, someone will hear my accent and take it upon themselves to try and help out the poor foreign lady. This morning I met a woman who kindly offered to give me recommendations to anything in the city I might need. "Like a hairdresser," she said, with a pointed look. Way to make me feel welcome in your country. I was ON MY WAY TO THE GYM.
If I could change my accent, I could be all, "Y’all, that Prince Harry done disgraced his country" to avoid awkward conversations, then, "Oh gosh, I’m terribly sorry, Officer. Can I make you a cup of tea?" if the occasion called for it. Not that it would. Law-abiding local, here, yessiree.