Beantown brashness: Deal with it
I came to Arizona for the heat. The program for journalism is good and the sports teams are good and the mascot is good, but at the end of the day I came to Arizona because there’s no way in hell 3 feet of snow will barricade me into my house here, like it does every winter back home.
I grew up in Boston, and there’s a certain personality type that comes with that. I’m loud, I have a quick temper and I swear like a sailor — worse than a sailor, actually, because my grandpa was in the Navy and he’s not nearly as profane as I am. Where I grew up, this is all totally normal. If you’re nice to strangers on the street, or even to your friends, you’re probably not from the area.
Coming to Arizona was a serious culture shock — not so much for me as for the people around me. Sure, it’s weird to have people smile and hold the door and make friendly conversation. But it’s for Tucsonans it’s probably weirder to be told to fuck off just for acting normally.
Arizona is too friendly, too amiable, and I can only imagine how it feels to get hit with a girl like me: A Beantown broad with one eyebrow quirked and a sharp retort at the ready. I’m a novelty.
Saying that makes me sound insanely self-important — which, being from Boston, I sort of am. But it’s also the truth. Whenever people hear I’m from back east, they perk right up.
I get a lot of people who start excessively using “r” words, as though they are the key to unlocking the thick Bostonian accent that I don’t actually have. On occasion I drop my “r”s, because they just don’t matter anyway, but only when I’m extremely tired do I sound like “Good Will Hunting.”
And that’s the funny part: these people have already heard me speak. I’ve been talking to them for a while, but as soon as they hear “I’m from Boston” they expect me to park their car in Harvard Yard, even though I haven’t dropped one goddamn “r” in their presence.
One kid even had the audacity to, upon learning of my homeland, point to his blue jeans and say “khakis.” I tried to explain to him that he was actually wearing jeans, and he gave me this confused look and said, “That’s how you say car keys!”
First of all, no it isn’t. When pronounced with a Boston accent car keys looks more like “cah keys” than khakis. More importantly, where does this kid get off making fun of my accent? Why is being from Boston so funny?
I mean, I get that accents are cool. Any time I hear a British accent I pay a little more attention. Scottish accents make me swoon. I always thought that accents conveyed a sort of sexy foreign allure, that they were attractive because they represented a place I’d never been. But I never expected to be the voice that attracts attention because of the way it pronounces words. It’s wicked irritating.
Wicked, that’s another thing. I don’t have the accent, but I have the words — all these little things that no one out here says. Frappes, candlepin bowling, bubblers and wicked, which is the absolute worst. Any time I say wicked, someone snickers. It’s so funny to everyone except for me. It’s like I’m saying nonsense words, just letters strung together with no meaning. Wicked. Even my best friend here laughs when I say wicked. She can’t help herself, and she’s a great friend, but it’s just wicked annoying.
I came to Arizona for the heat, and I became a novelty, a foreigner in my own country, because I say things differently than the people around here. How absurd is that? My words are wrong, my accent is strange, I talk funny.
Here’s something to consider. Massachusetts was founded more than 200 years before anyone gave a shit about Arizona. If my state didn’t exist, you wouldn’t exist. So maybe, just maybe, I’m not the weird one. I’m from Boston and you talk funny.
How do you like them apples?
Jazmine Foster-Hall is the assistant news editor. Follow her @Jazz_Foster.