Just make sure I'm around when you've finally got something to say.--Toad the Wet Sprocket

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Does Many Accents By Any Other Noises Sound as Sweet?

My mother and her family are from Texas. My dad and his family are from the hills of Kentucky. I was born in Lexington, Kentucky and grew up going to see my Mamaw and aunts and uncles on my dad's side, often, as they were close by. My dad said words like "overhauls" for overalls, and I and my brother did the same for years until we moved away. But that accent never really leaves you. Of course, I would find that that was not the only accent I had in my arsenal.

I first found out that I would change the way I spoke to fit the person I was talking to. I was talking to a girl named Gina for the first time at my college that was half southern, half northern, and she, who was from New Jersey, asked me what part of Jersey I was from. I explained that I was born in Kentucky but that I had spent the past seven years or soi in this state.  She could hardly believe me, as I sounded like I was from her state. I would do that time and again. And not just with accents. If I was talking with someone who spoke a certain way, or thought a certain way, or was at a certain vocabulary level, I changed the way I talked. I adjusted myself to them. I became a chameleon.

Once when I was working at this hotel job I had during college a local man came in to rent a room for a relative and for the first time in my life someone told me "You're not from around here, are you?" I explained where I had been born and that I had been living here a long while and he told me I didn't have the "local accent". That was when I realized what I sounded like. I was living with my dad who still had his mountain accent and my step-mother who has an Alabama accent, and I had mashed the two together and come up with some Frankenstein accent from hell. It stayed with me too, as long as I lived with them for a while, then it would go back to whatever the default was.

There is one person whom I did not change my talk or accent for and that is my best friend Randi. She is from Pennsylvania and had some interesting ideas about how Southern women go to college to get their MRS degree. Her roommate, sadly, was a complete oddball from another era, and was there to find a man, something I'd never heard of since the 60's. Once we got to talking and I disabused her of this notion, at some point the word that, to this day makes me laugh every time she says it, came out of her mouth: wudder. Or as you and I know it, water. I don't know why this cracks me up, but it does.

Once I graduated from college, I was not around so many Northerners, so my accent stopped changing, as far as I knew, until about a year ago. At the beginning of the school year I had  moved and couldn't find the iron, so I thought it had been left behind. I needed one to iron on my daughter's patches to her new Daisy uniform. So I called the drug store up the street to see if they had one and they asked me to repeat myself three times before I just spelled out the word, wondering what their problem was. Then we had to go through the process of curling or clothing. Once off the phone, I finally realized why she, as Southern woman, had not understood me. I had pronounced iron in the Kentucky mountain way. There is really no way to describe it here, it must be heard, but I will try: Eye-ur-n.  I was also calling tires, tarrs. My daughter tells me to just think about saying Iron Man and then just leave off the Man part, as I don't do this with Iron Man.  And whenever my daughter got into trouble my acccent went deep Georgia Southern.  When I was describing an argument I had with my ex to Randi about him wanting to change her hair and at one point I went Brooklyn, then at another point my accent with part South Carolina part Georgia.  So, I still have the ability to do Northern accents when the situation calls for it.

And then there's all the foreign words and phrases that started popping up. In the morning it's "vite, vite", which is French for faster, faster. And "mon petit chou", which is an endearment meaning my little cabbage. "Or "nyet", which is Russian for no.  "Ego amo te"and "Je t'aime" ( I love you in Latin and French) and others. The worst are the cliches and homilies. "Quickest begun, is quickest done." What is that? The pilgrims or something even older? Idle hands, etc... A journey of a thousand steps... "Close the front door, will ya! Do you think we live in a barn?" I have yet to use "If he jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge/Empire State Building would you do it too?" (Why is it always a New York City landmark, anyways?) I did hear her teacher's assistant use her version of it one day when I stopped by to have "brunch" (her lunch is at 10:30am) with her.

Where do some of these things come from anyway? I did not grow up hearing these things from my parents.  I read about them or heard them in movies or on TV and they sunk into my subconscious. I also picked up bits of languages here and there. I took four years of French and on year of Spanish, but I know bits of German, Japanese, and others here and there from reading, songs, movies, etc... Why I'm using them on my daughter and in my language now, I have no idea. Why my mountain accent is popping up now I can only explain as maybe I am being watched over/haunted by my Mamaw who passed back in September when most of this started.  Perhaps she is guiding me in some way, or perhaps I'm just screwed up like everyone else on this planet.   For now, my daughter knows she has a mother who "talks a bit screwy" and she loves her and understands everything she says, which is the most important thing in the world.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Me, Freddie, Brian and the Rest of Queen

When Wayne's World came out, I'll never forget, I was listening to the radio one night and someone called in and asked to hear "that song by that new band Queen." I nearly died laughing so hard. They were, of course referring to the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" which was featured prominently in the movie. For me, Queen has been a part of my life as long as I can remember.  When I was a kid, my best friend Silke, whose parents had escaped East Germany and introduced me to the wonders of Nutella (which I wouldn't see again until a few years ago) and the horrors of sauerkraut, would put the song "Another One Bites the Dust" on her record player and we wore that record out.

I remember the video for "Radio Gaga" and thinking the song was stupid because the only words I listened to were the title ones. It was only about a decade or so ago that I actually bothered to sit down and hear Freddie and realized that I was just like him in that song. While my radio didn't glow, it was always on with a tape in it ready to record something.  I loved the radio show War of the Worlds too. I had the radio on at night, and for a brief time listened to something a few of you might know called "The Southern Biscuit Flour Hour", where I began to wonder why they played so much Lynard Skynard and Almond Brothers.  And as Freddie says, "Someone still loves you", and that someone is still me.  I still listen to the radio all the time (though I no longer tape anything).

And who doesn't remember the big to-do over Ice Cube stealing "Under Pressure"? I spent some time explaining that one to my daughter showing her the differences between the two only to have her tell me that she preferred "Ice Ice Baby" just to see if she could get a rise out of me. She didn't. I'm wise to her ways now.  That song is pure magic.  "Under Pressure", people. David Bowie said he was never satisfied with his performance in that song and got angry when they put the song out. But he also admitted he would never have been satisfied. He was a bit of a perfectionist. The two men remained friends right up until the end and now we've lost them both.

My daughter loves "Bohemian Rhapsody" because I showed her the video from Wayne's World that showed her the proper way of listening to it. Now she headbangs the right way (with hands in the devil horns) and does the voices in the right spots. When I'm driving the car, she tells me she'll headbang for me since I have to watch the road.  Her second favorite is the Ahhh song, or as the rest of us know it, "Flash". I showed her the movie Flash Gordon and she agreed with me: the leader of the Hawks is really funny and the soundtrack by Queen makes the movie.  I'm afraid my daughter has inherited my love of bad movies. But it really is worth watching just to listen to. And the Hawk guy really is hilarious. It's also pretty goofy to see Timothy Dalton dressed up like Erroll Flynn in the movie Robin Hood. She's growing to love the rest. Especially "I Want it All", "Another One Bites the Dust", and "We Will Rock You". I'm working on "Fat Bottom Girls", "Crazy Little Thing", and "Somebody to Love". The hardcore stuff like "Hammer to Fall" will have to wait.

Whenever Brian starts doing something amazing on his guitar I make sure to point it out. I've told her all about Brian and how he is an astronomer and how he and his dad made his guitar from scratch when he was a teen. How smart he is.  And Freddie's incredible piano skills and soaring vocals. Yeah, I should mention Roger Taylor's drums, especially since she has an interest in them as well as guitar and piano, and sometimes my trumpet.  And let's not forget the poor bass player. My uncle is one and he'd kill me if I'd leave the bass player out. John Deacon holds it all down for the band. My ex-husband, however is a guitar player, so I know more about the guitar players then I do the drummers and bass players.  My daughter still hasn't nailed down what instrument she wants to play, which is why I point them all out in the songs I play for her, so she'll think they're all cool.

This is all a part of my evil plan. If I introduce her to all the good music early on and block out anything truly horrific, maybe when she hits her tween years and whatever Justin Beiber hell is waiting for me then, she won't be interested because she will see him for the crap that he is. Right now I'm just glad to be sharing one of my favorite bands in the world with her. It's like falling in love with them all over again.    

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dancing Days and Bought Drinks

I realized that I left out something on my birthday remembrance. My twenty-first birthday celebration, which was memorable in it's own weird way.  My friend S. Hatfield (I once discovered that a woman with my maiden name had married a McCoy and this made so much sense as me and Hatfield had such a close, but argumentative at times friendship) took me out to get drunk at Bogies, a restaurant named after the actor. There was a woman there playing acoustic guitar and singing songs and she had a row of girlfriends right up front to support her. Otherwise the place was pretty empty, but that was to be expected as it was a weeknight. I can't remember what my first drink was, but a Long Island Iced Tea was in there somewhere, as I had heard of them and was curious. The women caught on early that it was my birthday and bought me a shot of tequila because you can't celebrate your birthday without tequila, it seems. The singer asked me what song I wanted to hear and I told her "She Talks to Angels" by the Black Crows.  We had a really nice time and I got pleasantly drunk. When we got to the parking lot Hatfield looked at me and he said "You do know those were lesbians, right?" And I had had no idea. It didn't matter. I just felt like an idiot for not picking up on it. So the second drink bought for me (Hatfield bought the first) was by a group of lesbians. And I couldn't be happier.

I love dancing. I can't really do much of it anymore due to the fibro. I hate it for taking that away from me. Dancing made me feel so free.  And it was one of the only things I was ever any good at.  During college the only people in my group who went to the clubs to go dancing were the gays. So when I wasn't working I went with them to this gay club and we all danced with each other to "Rhythm Is a Dancer", "What Is Love", "Be My Lover", and of course "I Will Survive".  I have such happy memories of that place. And of someone who was with us there, who is not anymore.  Of dancing way into the night, free as can be. Of the drag show they had one Sunday night where I saw a reigning Queen who was way more woman than I could be with the help of a thousand specialists. She was truly amazing. But not once did I ever worry about my safety. Not once did I worry about someone coming in with an automatic gun and shooting up the place.

I mourn for those in Orlando.  They did nothing to deserve this. They, like me once, were just there to dance. To be with friends. To meet others. To have fun. To be free as the birds in the sky. This should not have happened to them.  This should not happen to anyone.

Our dead are not dead to us, until we have forgotten them.- George Eliot

   ...and while he did all the actual dancing, I remember whirling around and around the porch those hot 

  summer days so long ago and never wanting to stop.--Julie Reece Deaver (Say Goodnight Gracie)

  Dancing is just a conversation between two people. Talk to me- Harry Connick Jr. (Hope Floats)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

And Yet Another Year Has Gone With the Wind

"The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older, shorter of breath and one day closer to death." That is from "Time", my favorite song off of Pink Floyd's album Dark Side of the Moon. It is appropriate today as it is my birthday and the year I was born was the year that album came out.  It reached number one on the Billboard Charts in April and stayed there until 1988. It went back on the charts in 1991 and remains there today.  And yes, it is true if you sync it up with the movie The Wizard of Oz, it seems to go together in an eerie way.  There is a young man that I went to high school with who committed suicide his freshman year of college that I always think of when I listen to the song "Dark Side of the Moon". He was too sweet for this world.

I was born in Lexington, Kentucky. Horse country. Which is why it means something special to me that I share a special day with horse racing's most famous horse: Secretariat. On the day I was born, Secretariat, also a redhead, was busy making history, being the first horse to win the Triple Crown in twenty-five years at the Belmont Stakes.  But he did more than that. You say 31 and 2:24 to anyone in horse racing and they will know exactly what you are talking about. Secretariat won by 31 lengths and ran the race in 2:24 minutes. An amazing record for any race. But Secretariat is a once in a lifetime, or perhaps century, horse. He passed in 1989.

The now legendary band Aerosmith put out there first album, Aerosmith. It had on it "Makin' it" "Mamma Kin", and yes, "Dream On", which would be re-released in 1976 and finally became a hit.  No one really noticed this album. Or the band for several years, except for their loyal band of blue jean followers and the city of Boston.  It's hard to believe that their most famous song "Dream On" was out for years before it became a hit and got them some attention. But the music world is an odd one.

That year we also lost one of the greatest storytellers in the singer/songwriter/musician category: Jim Croce. He wrote: Don't Mess Around With Jim, Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown, Time in a Bottle, I've Got a Name, Rapid Roy That Stock Car Boy, Car Wash Blues, and One Less Set of Footsteps. He had set up a date to play at a college in Louisiana in December. But that was before he became famous and a "big name". Some people, hell most people, would have cancelled it. But that wasn't who he was. It was a small gig for peanuts and he had to take a tiny plane to get there and it crashed and he died. He left behind a wife, son, and some wonderful music filled with colorful characters and a great beat.  My daughter loves the "don't tug on Superman's cape song", which is about what I called it when I was her age, or what the rest of the world knows as "Don't Mess Around With Jim".  She even gets the Jim's and Slim's right, which took me years to nail down.

In the news: Roe v. Wade was passed; the Yom Kipur War;  the Watergate hearings begin with Nixon exclaiming "I am not a crook."'; US troops were withdrawn from Vietnam and a peace agreement signed; armed members of the American Indian Movement occupied Wounded Knee, South Dakota; in the Battle of the Sexes on the tennis court, Billy Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs; Richard Pryor burned his face by "free base"; and the Endangered Species Act is Passed. In pop culture: Mick and Keith kicked Brian Jones out of the band; Ben Vereen was killed in a car accident; Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez burned down her boyfriend's house (that was memorable); The Exorcist (I'm scared); Deliverance (Oh, yeah!); Live and Let Live (a Bond movie! Awesome!); The Sting; Jesus Christ Superstar; American Graffiti; The Last Tango in Paris; album "Some Girls" released; "Batdance"; "Crocodile Rock"; "Angie"; and  "My Love" (I could personally do without the woah, woah, woahs). Birthdays: Peter the Great; Cole Porter; Les Paul; The Great Soul/Blues singer Jackie Wilson; Patricia Cornwell; Michael J. Fox; Aaron Sorkin; Johnny Depp; Natalie Portman; and last, but never least, Donald Duck.

Now you may wonder what the point of all this was. Well, I sometimes need to remind myself that a lot of cool things (even if they were bad, they were important) and cool people, happened on my birthday. Especially now. I've always been mistaken for someone at least ten years younger than myself until a year ago. Suddenly I started being treated like I was ten years OLDER than I was. I took my daughter to the library and a man (It's always a man. It's a man who asks if when you are due, when you are not pregnant.) asked about my granddaughter. I had my daughter at an older age, but not all that old. I have yet to find a gray hair. How can I possibly look like someone's grandmother? When I went to see The Force with a friend of mine who is 30, the ticket agent asked if she had a student ID. When I stepped up, she saw my AAA card and thought it was an AARP card and said "Oh, you have AARP." My first thought was, of course, do I look that old? Then my thrifty Scots side came out and said who cares what she thinks. These tickets are well over $10. Take the discount. I was just about to open my mouth to agree with her, when she realized her mistake and I had to pay full price. So I got insulted and overcharged.  The very young nurse at my doctor's office is pushing the pneumonia shot I've seen on TV that they are aiming at the over 60 crowd. I look in the mirror and I don't see an old woman. My body feels like one because I have fibromyalgia. I have the body of an eighty-year-old sometimes. How did I go from still getting carded for buying alcohol to being treated like a grandmother almost overnight?  I'm not ashamed of how old I am. I always said that I would grow old gracefully, but I said that thinking that when I started growing old people would think I was ten years younger that I really was, not ten years older.

So, I grow one year older today. I still don't feel old. Maybe I'm in denial. Maybe I'm just happy with who I am and do not like being stuffed in a box. Especially one marked soon to expire, because it's old. As Freddie said "Who wants to live forever." I sure don't. I'm just not ready to be put up on a shelf. I've got a lot more living left to do. And a daughter who is telling everyone she sees that it is my birthday today and how old I am. We have an agreement to be as honest as possible with each other. When she asked me about my weight, however, I told her that was between me and the doctor's scale. She's happier than me, though to be celebrating my birthday.  Kids are wonderful. They keep you young.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Non- Birthday Fit For a Prince of Paisley Park

Today, June 7, is the musician and singer Prince's birthday and he would have been 58 years old today. I grew up knowing that we were both Geminis, but I had no idea we had other things in common. My birthday is on June 9. Prince began playing piano at age 7. I began at age 8. When he was 19 he put out his first album on which he played two dozen instruments. I can play the trumpet, the french horn, and the melophone (The marching french horn. Somewhere between a trumpet and a baritone in size with a lot of noise.) moderately well, but never mastered any of them.  Prince and I are both five feet two inches tall, which explains why he wore all those killer heels. Being short, and let me tell you, five feet two inches is short for a woman, is the kiss of death for a man.  Unlike him, I do not wear heels.  My parents named me Nicole because they wanted me to have the nickname Nikki. Yes, the only song I have with my name attached to it is Prince's "Darling Nikki", which embarrassed me a lot when I was much younger, but now I am proud that he chose it.

I was oh, so young, (a baby really) when the Year of Purple, June of 1984 to June of 1985, was around, due to Prince's album and movie, Purple Rain. I got the tape for Christmas. I remember this store that contained nothing but purple things. I did not go in so I have no idea what was in there. I just remember seeing a sea of purple flowing from the window and door. For my birthday my dad (who loves the movie and song "Purple Rain") baked me possibly the only cake he ever did. It was a rectangle cake with purple frosting. How he got the purple frosting I can only imagine, as I doubt they sold it at the store.  During that year everyone's favorite color war purple.

Now I am introducing my own daughter to his music. She, like me, loves to dance to "Let's Go Crazy". When I first played it though, she was in the midst of a Paul Simon obsession so she asked if Paul Simon was singing with Prince and I told a fib and said yes just so she'd like the song. That would be one odd musical pairing, wouldn't it? My head spins at the thought. I'm holding back the more blatantly racier stuff for when she's older.  Besides, I don't think anyone really knows what the song "Let's Go Crazy" is completely about.

While my favorite color is no longer purple, but green, I still wear a lot of purple as it looks good on a redhead. I also have a necklace with two charms on it: one has a pair of skeletal gloves holding a green malachite ball and the other is a crescent moon with a kitty sitting on it with an amethyst stone in the moon. Green and purple. I bought the necklace with the malachite for luck when I was eighteen and really needed some. Then in college, in full dramatic form, I declared in my Lady of Shallot voice "The curse has come upon me." Because I believed that my dad's family had been cursed with bad luck. Basically if we didn't have bad luck we'd have no luck at all. My friend Pixie immediately gave me her charm with the amethyst cat on it and swore it would bring me luck. Has it? I don't know. I've gone for times without wearing it and have had the most awful luck in the world. And some of the best, as I had my daughter without it.

So, Happy Birthday Prince, even though your religion does not celebrate them. I will celebrate for both of us and just say that I'm celebrating for myself. May you Rest In Peace and Funk.