As a foreigner living in the US, you end up telling people where you’re from at least every other day. After fifteen years, however, the question sometimes takes me by surprise. Is it my clothes? The way I look? Oh crap, that’s right, I do have an accent. I don’t hear it when I talk, so I forget I got one until someone mentions it. Like the idiot wanting to be transferred to someone that spoke English. I was like, no chance, “Coolio”.
Tonight, I was having dinner with my friend Victoria – who is also from the Basque Country and like me, has an accent – and we started talking about how we’ve had our feelings hurt before when people comment on our “thick accent”. Honestly, I stopped caring long time ago, but it’s still a sensitive area for her.
On the other hand, Victoria’s husband is an American man (as in born in the US) whose face, first name and last name, however, are completely Japanese. People complement him all the time on his good English.
Once, when I worked as a hostess at the Old Chicago downtown, this group of guys came in. One of them asked me where I was from, so I told him I was from the Basque Country, in Northern Spain, to which he replied: “Oh, cool, I’ve never been to South America!”
Then, we have those who swear by political correctness and instead of asking where I’m from, they’ll ask if I grew up here. Sure, dude, right in downtown Nampa.