Can I ask you a question?
I’m not used to women in bars looking at me like I’m a complete a**hole.
Truth be told, I’m not used to women in bars looking at me at all, but here was this woman, mouth twisted in disdain, staring at me with eyes dripping scorn. I wasn’t expecting that reaction.
She’d asked me a familiar question, “Is it difficult being back in the US?” As I mentioned before, it is indeed pretty weird, including the strange sensation of being the same nationality as most other people and specifically: talking the same.
I suppose that’s part of why I’ve been drifting over to accents from the UK more often lately. (In addition to the insecure suspicion that I’m boring when I’m in my native land.)
Accents have always entertained me, since I was a wee lad who would occasionally talk like an Indian who thought he was Jamaican, often discussing who had “plump little bongos.” Nonsensical, but it seemed to entertain my family. I ask anyone who spends a significant amount of time with me to let me know when it gets annoying and I’ll try to stop.
Yesterday I listened to a Freakonomics podcast about tipping, which included a woman who faked a French accent to get more tips. I’ve never done that. I have never used my play to try to gain anything, or deceive anyone in any way that feels exploitative. It’s usually when I ask for directions, which I assume people would answer anyway, but this way they seem to do so with little more of a smile. Is that exploitative? Deceptive?
No harm done. Right?
This woman in the bar did not agree. When I told her that I’ve been faking accents occasionally, she found it a disgusting betrayal of a stranger’s trust. “So you’re basically making fun of everyone you fool, thinking you’re better than them.”
Not in the slightest! I certainly never think less of anyone I speak to. But it tickled a question I’ve long had. Is it wrong? It is basically lying after all…is there such a thing as a victimless crime?