I can recognize an American accent and of course a British accent is one I really enjoy hearing, but I thought that Canadians didn’t have accents, that our accent, if anything, was neutral. Not so, apparently. We were recognized as Canadians by different groups of people in only a couple of seconds interacting with them.
Naomi and I were seated at a table at a very small vegetarian restaurant in the village of Joshua Tree while doing laundry at a nearby laundromat. A couple was seated very close to us and it was impossible not to hear the wife and husband conversation. In quite strong terms she was telling him to be less defensive, but honestly, I tried my best not to follow the exchange.
I was famished for a change and had ordered some eggs. When the large plate finally arrived (were we put on the back burner because I hadn’t tipped a meal I had stood in line to order?), the wife perked up and started talking to us. Was this for us to share?
Anyway, long story short, husband and wife both knew immediately we were Canadian by how we sounded.
Then the husband kind of muttered, “Aboot.”
Hah! I do not say aboot when I want to say about (I personally have never heard a Canadian pronounce about this way, although I have heard anglophones in rural Canada pronounce the word barn in a rather strange way, (err, tighten your jaw and lips and push them out, say “bar”, then add the “n”).
I even doubt using the word about in the few exchanges we had with them. But him murmuring aboot did make me laugh.
We asked them where they were from. They said Hawaii. She said “Aloha” to me and I just looked at her.
“What do people have against Aloha here in California?” she asked aloud.
I don’t know. I did think about it later. The fact that we were not in Hawaii perhaps? Anyway, we did speak a bit more before they left (“We’re interested in visiting Hawaii. Where is the best hiking?” “Big Island” was the response.)
Because I liked this lady despite hectoring her husband in public, wondering why people didn’t say Aloha for “hi” or “goodbye” outside of Hawaii, and her poor husband’s invention of a cliché of our accents, I enthusiastically Aloha’d them on saying goodbye.
Goodbye! Aloha! Goodbye! Aloha!
Another strange incident occurred while Naomi and I were strolling Joshua Tree one evening.
We passed a couple seated by a street corner. They were talking to a another couple stopped at the corner in their van. The man was eating French fries out of an aluminum foil plate. This bearded fellow was, well, “large”, okay, fat.
We were checking out some boutiques in the village (there aren’t many) and on our way back, after stuffing a few fries into his mouth as we walked by, the man called out to our backs, “Can you spare some change, for food?”
That was one of the most memorable laugh-out-loud moments on our trip.
Speaking of people, what is the most common demographic of the hikers we came across on our various hikes?
Surprisingly, people older than me (63 in a couple of weeks). Seniors weren’t a very large majority but still, most of the people hiking the trails were white haired, hiking-pole-carrying types, the slow-and-steady walking kind, consulting books, bending down close to examine interesting plants and flowers, and taking lots of photos (expensive camera in tow).
In other words, people very mindful of the flora and fauna (many species of birds, desert tortoise, lizards & jackrabbits).
It was also distressing, in the intense mid-day sun, to see many young couples pulling or carrying youngsters or infants without hats or caps on their heads. What were they thinking?
But I felt a bit proud of people in my age group, still up and aboot!
Finally, Aloha, and Naomi, can we plan our next trip please?