Monday, July 02, 2007

I am really 150 years old

Blame it on my mixed-up childhood, but sometimes I say funny, out-of-date things. And sometimes I say them in a funny way.

When I first arrived in Australia, at the age of 13, people couldn't decide if I had an English accent (from my godparents) or an American accent (Sesame Street and lots of American television).

They made fun of the way I said certain words, like "video" and "plastic". (Of course, everyone knows that teenagers are cruel, complex creatures at best, so screw 'em. Also, most of them are now awful adults with awful lives. Karma, methinks.)

These days I have a rather bland West Australian accent (but not a bogan one, good grief), as ascertained by my cousin's husband's cousins who excitedly squealed, "Have you been on Neighbours? Do you know anyone from Neighbours? Say something in Australian!"

"Um, I AM speaking in Australian."

"No, no! The way they talk on Neighbours!"

"She'll be right, mate?"

"Hmm. Meh."

$*#&@ teenagers.

Anyway, last Friday morning I arrived at work in a joyous mood. I'd just found out that Camouflage had sold, and I was walking on air.

I walked past J's office and saw her chatting with B. They both looked very nice: B was in a yellow summer dress cleverly mixed with a black cardigan so it looked fashionably wintry, and J was wearing a very nice fitted jumper (I couldn't see the rest of her, which was behind her desk).

"Good morning, ladies!" I sang out. "Don't you look lovely today, as if you'd both stepped out of fashion plates!"

They both laughed and said "good morning" back.

Just after I said it I thought, Hmm, that was kind of a strange thing to say. Then, as I walked away, I heard B say, "I don't know what that means, but it sounded good!"

When I got home that evening, I opened up Little Town on the Prairie (I've been working my way through the "Little House" series of books, possibly for the hundredth time). I love Wilder's simple prose and Garth Williams's homely illustrations.

A few chapters in, I got to the part where Ma and Laura have just finished making Mary's winter dress for college.

"Mary was beautiful in that beautiful dress. Her hair was silkier and more golden than the golden silk threads in the plaid. Her blue eyes were bluer than the blue in it. Her cheeks were pink, and her figure was so stylish.

'Oh Mary,' Laura said. 'You look exactly as if you'd stepped out of a fashion plate. There won't be, there just can't be, one single girl in college who can hold a candle to you.' "

6 comments:

Juliness said...

My brother, sister and I all incorporate words and phrases my Grandma used as a way of keeping her around now that she's gone.

It's sweet and touching when the three of us are together or with cousins but sure sounds dorky when taken out of context or tossed into a conversation with someone who has NO IDEA what the heck I'm talking about.

I feel your pain.

girlanddog said...

Hey, quaint is good! :) I watched Ms. Potter a few days ago and then went around writing with a most distinct British vocabulary. My friends thought I was nuts, but it just stuck!

genevieve said...

omggg i just realised now where the term "fashion plate" came from! you know when they first started photography and it was on PLATES and not PAPER. duh. >_<

i say things that no one says as well. like "swell." that's one of my fave words. i never hear anyone else say it...

an9ie said...

That's really nice, juliness, my Mum does the same thing with phrases that my grandmother used to say. But then she has to explain them because my Hokkien/Chinese isn't very good :p

Girl, you should see me after a Jim Carrey movie :)

Gen - thanks for explaining that. I was wondering if I should throw something in for people who thought that fashion plates were like china plates! "Swell" is awesome - keep it alive, sister!

Donna said...

Hi! I wanted to check in with you after such a long time away. I'm sorry about your dad. I hope you have the support you need to get through what will be a trying time.

On the current subject - I'm sure now that I've lived in Texas for way too many years I sound like a Redneck. I need to move to Australia to rid myself of a twang.

an9ie said...

Thanks Donna, I guess we're kind of used to it now. He's been in remission for a while, but now and then set-backs like these just seem to hit you out of nowhere.

I actually quite like the American twang. Perhaps I've been reading too much Little House :)