Monday, January 25, 2010


"Can you hand me my purse, please," I asked John, sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of my laptop, trying to buy something from Amazon.  He opened my Longchamp and dug deep, searching for something.  I looked up.  "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING??" I shouted.  "Just hand it to me!"  Finally, his hand reached in and grabbed something, offering it to me triumphantly.  "Here you go!" he said, handing me my wallet.  "I asked for my purse not my wallet.  I need my lip balm."  "Oh," he said, a little confused.  I don't blame him.  In the UK, women refer to their wallets as "purses" - probably because they carry sorry so much schrapnel change that the term comes from "coin purse."  I figured this out pretty quickly but there are days when I refuse to use British vocabulary.  There are days when I feel like rebelling and saying, "I definitely need to wash these pants as I've worn them twice in a row now" and mean "pants" as in "jeans", not "pants" as in "underwear".  Simple American phrases like, "taking out the trash" have been obliterated from my daily conversation.  Instead, I say things like "put out the bin" or "it's in the car boot" - but I still have to think very carefully before doing so.  I refuse to say "nought" for "zero" or "zed" for "z".  If I use too many British phrases or words, I feel like a fraud, like Madonna or Gwyneth Paltrow in their trans-Atlantic accent stage.  Yuck, yuck, yuck.  I also try to preserve my American accent as much as possible, which is more difficult that one would think.  "Why would your accent change, Jaime?" my brother asked incredulously.  "You were born and raised in the US!"  Yeah, but try living and working in England, where all your co-workers are British and your friends are British ... the more you spend time with people, the more the way they talk rubs off on you.  Still, I try.

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