When I was a kid, I lived in a fairly insular little world. Brisbane was a big town pretending to be a city because it was the capital of the state. Half the city still had outdoor toilets and there were still lots of unsealed roads. Mothers didn’t go out to work, families only had one car and nothing opened on Sundays.
So, when a kid called Chuck arrived at our school, my world wobbled just a bit.
Chuck’s father had been transferred to Brisbane from the United States on business, I can’t remember what sort of business, and so the family had relocated to our quiet, leafy suburb. Chuck was the all American boy you see in the old television shows. He was blonde with a crew cut, a flat-top. He was the only boy in school with such a radical haircut…for about two weeks. After that lots of of the boys started having their hair cut just like his, such was his celebrity status.
Chuck didn’t know how to play cricket. Although his batting was good, he could never get the hang of fielding without a glove. He preferred to play softball with us girls. Because of his superior skills he chose to play catcher so as not to overpower us. What a guy!
But the most intriguing thing about Chuck was his accent. Wow! It was amazing. Everyone tried to copy the way Chuck spoke. His Southern drawl was quite intoxicating. All of the girls were a little bit in love with Chuck, just because of his ‘zee‘ instead of ‘zed’ and his short ‘a‘ sound when he said ‘can’t‘.
We taunted him with words like Coolangatta, Woolloomoolloo, Indooroopily and Yarralumla. He responded with Minneapolis, Massachusetts and ‘y’all’. His biggest challenge, as is the case for all non-Australians, was in saying ‘G’day, Mate‘. It came out as ‘Good Eye Might‘. We thought it was hilarious…and loved him just a little bit more.
Having that accent made Chuck so much more interesting than all of the other boys. He only spent two terms at our school before his father was transferred again. We didn’t even get to say goodbye to him because they moved during the holidays. It was a sad day indeed when we came back to school for the new term only to find that Chuck had moved on.
It was back to ‘zed‘…no more ‘zee‘…but to this day, whenever I see a blonde boy with a crewcut, I think of Chuck and say “Hi, y’all” to whomever I am with.
I guess it’s true that the exotic is always that little bit more exciting than the homemade.
What do you think?