Monday, October 22, 2007

Red Grape Accent

I was picking through the green grapes when a produce worker walked up to me. You should buy the red ones, he said, resting his hand on the rosy colored side of the display. The green ones aren't looking so good, but the red ones are sweet. Ok, I said, moving toward the red side, which also advertised $.93 / lb. He walked away and a wave of well-being swept over me. His accent!! It settled down an indescribable feeling...of being home, of being cared for. I believed him and chose a bag of red though I prefer the taste of green (not so dry).

It was an Hispanic accent of some sort. I'm not very good with things like that, so I couldn't pinpoint the country. I wandered the rest of the produce section wondering... Did I feel so cozy about it because I've been living in Kansas City and (surprise, surprise) things are pretty homogeneous around here? Chicago is filled with accents of every sort, and especially Hispanic ones, so I grew up hearing English spoken in that particular way. Perhaps it just made me feel home again.

Or, I thought, maybe it's Guatemalan. I have a Guatemalan friend back in Chicago whom I really respect. Perhaps the produce man's voice reminded me of him! As I couldn't shake the feeling of well-being he had given me, and he was enough older than me that I was pretty sure he wouldn't think I was being fresh, I decided to ask him. I had to crisscross the aisles a bit, probably looking incredibly indecisive to any security camera watchers following my particular cart, but I finally got myself back around to where he was, gathered my courage, and stepped up to the plate.

"Mexico," he said with a smile. Ah, Mexico. A short conversation ensued. Guadalajara. Beautiful. Haven't been but hope to some day... and I walked away slightly confused but very happy to have asked. Maybe, I decided, it was just that his voice reminded me of home and all my years in Chicago.

It wasn't until I was half-way through the drive home that I laughed at myself and my one-track mind. Once Guatemala had gotten into it, it was hard to get it out, but there is a very good reason my little heart leaped happily at the sound of a Mexican accent. And my dear friend (& once co-worker) Elsa, should know what it is! Now, I have no idea if Guadalajara is anywhere near where she is from. (Actually, I'd be shocked if my accent-impaired ear could actually pick up on any regional distinctions.) Just in case you're sitting there doubting the veracity of my self-deprecation...let me share a little something: the first time I met Elsa I thought she was Romanian!

There are two other potential explanations for the comfortable feeling he gave me. He may be a believer. Or perhaps an angel. I don't know. I wouldn't be surprised. But one thing is for sure: that believer and/or angel had a Mexican accent! :)

So, now you know a new thing about me... (I miss Chicago) ... and, based on what sort of fuzzy feelings that accent triggered, a few things about Elsa also.

1 comment:

Anna Peterson said...

Awwwww....Chicago misses you! If you come visit, I will do many accents for you!! (even if they wouldn't be very authentic)