Thursday, July 22, 2010

On My Mysterious Ethnic Origins

People seem to have a great deal of trouble picking where I'm from. I get mistaken for a tourist quite a lot while wandering around the Adelaide CBD. Admittedly, this is probably because I get lost very easily and pronounce 'dance' in a way that seems to make the souls of all South Australians wither up and die. That's the test you can do to see if the person you're talking to is an SA native. Pronounce 'dance' or 'graph' with a hard 'a'. If they immediately start clawing at their skin and writhing in agony, they're South Australian.

Admittedly, I do have a strange accent. I don't know what it is. It's not anything. But for some reason, people never accept that as an answer. People have pegged me as American, Canadian, English, Italian, South African and New Zealandian*. I've given up trying to explain it. For a while after I moved to Adelaide, I tried to pretend that this was just what people from Newcastle sound like. I stopped doing that after I gave that answer to a regular customer at the cafe where I used to work. He was a fingerprints expert from the State Police Headquarters, which was across the road. Most of our regular customers worked either there or at one of the nearby law firms. Nobody ever tried to rob us, even when we started stocking a coffee blend we called 'ROBUS', written on the jar in all caps above the cash register.

Fingerprints Doug, as we shall call him, stopped me when I brought him his tea one morning to tell me he'd been trying for a while and couldn't pick my accent.

"I'm from Newcastle," I replied, casually.

"Really?" replied Fingerprints Doug, "Because I'm from Lake Macquarie, and I've never heard an accent like yours."

This is the problem with constantly dealing with analytical experts. You can't even get away with the slightest, whitest lie. This is the biggest downside to sharing a house with a qualified forensic chemist. He knows exactly when you have or haven't done the dishes.

These days I've changed my response to 'I'm Novacastrian', followed by the silent hope that the asker will be embarrassed about never having heard of it (it just means someone from Newcastle, if you're wondering) and drop the line of questioning.

But apparently, it's not just the accent. After Meattrain decided to start fooling around with some celebrity face match software, we have confirmed that I am officially ethnically confusing. My results were as followed: Jamie Lynn Spears, Rita Hayworth, Paula Abdul, Halle Berry and an Asian actress I hadn't heard of and consequently can't remember the name of. Oh, and Ron Howard? I guess those faces combine for the most ethnically ambiguous face possible.

I actually had an ex-boyfriend who used to insist that I was Italian. I'm not sure why, but I'm pretty sure it can be explained by the fact that he was balls crazy. As in, 'I have to wash your body before every act of sexual intercourse' crazy. It is embarrassing how long it took me to realise that this was a very strange form of foreplay.

For some reason, he'd got it into his head that I was Italian. At first he just asked me about it, on the basis of my appearance. I set the record straight that I had no Italian heritage whatsoever, at least not that I knew of. Yet, somehow, from 'No, I am not in any way Italian,' he managed to hear, 'Yes, I am Italian. Please constantly use it as an explanation for my behaviour, any behaviour.'

For example:
"Geez, it's chilly tonight."
"I'm fine."
"That's just because you Italian girls don't feel the cold."
"I... I'm not Italian. I've told you this. Many times."
"Ha, you Italian girls. I dunno."

-Smackie Onassis

*I'm not going to pretend I've figured out what word to use when referring to a person from New Zealand. Even when I toured the place a few years back, I couldn't get a uniform answer anywhere I went. New Zealand, please call a meeting and decide what we can call you. And don't just say 'Kiwis' this time.

1 comment:

  1. On the basis of England -> English and Ireland -> Irish, I think it's New Zealish. Even though that sounds hella dumb. Maybe we should all just forget they exist.