Recently, a friend of mine from grammar school reconnected with me after an absence of no less than ten years.
What was one of the first things my friend J asked me after around twenty minutes of speaking over the phone?
“Yo, what the fuck happened to your Brooklyn accent, Bitch!?”
Ok, so maybe he didn’t say it exactly like that – if he called me a bitch he’d get laid out – but STILL. I’m starting to feel like I’ve lived in the suburbs too long and this motherfucker has proven my point. He has known me since my age was still in the single-digits and we played at the Little Park in Glenwood Houses.
What. The. FUCK!? I did my time at Jan’s and Kings Plaza! We all hung out on Seaview and Rockaway Parkway! We bought bagels every weekend on Flatlands! Did brunch at The Arch diner every other Sunday! I even went to multiple Bar Mitzvahs for Crissakes!!
I thought I was “keepin’ it REAL” all this time over here in Putnam County. Y’know I read ALL my posts with a THICK New-York accent and I still say “fuck” (A LOT!), so what gives!?
Have I suffered a Canarsie-ectomy from my immersion in the suburban sprawl? Do I sound like a fucking SNOB because I now have to DRIVE myself everywhere instead of walking, riding the #6 bus or taking the W-train (is it the B-train again!?)?? Is daily exposure to my own car upholstery causing my Brooklyn accent to atrophy??? Was I tricked into giving up wheat gluten to more easily enable my assimilation into the Hudson Valley speak-proper agenda!???
I STILL know what a bagel is, bitches! …Even if I can no longer eat them. 😦
Long ago were the nights when “I’m TIE-ed o’ yo ass, AIGHT!” cracked us all up. My old friend, N, commemorated the infamous answering-machine message from my ex-husband by making me play it repeatedly for the group at my old apartment on 84th Street every Omelet Night. The endless hours of pseudo-gangster hilarity, punctuated by butter-fried cheese omelets and a bunch of semi-high Brooklyn twenty-somethings, were fun-times. In Bensonhurst, no less.
Funny how I don’t even remember what I sounded like back then…
So J now lives in Virginia with his gaggle of tweens who all think he speaks with a stoopid-heavy NY accent. I think he sounds like a dude who most might peg as a New Yorker. There is a difference, right?
So maybe this is just what happened to me. The result of my father’s proper-English tutelage has softened my “accent” somewhat in my mature-adult years. Sounds reasonable, right?
Oy-fucking-VEY! My Brooklyn accent still comes back after a few glasses of wine! Or, so I’m told. It’s in there, baby!
Watch this video. This is to remind folks like my friend J what we probably don’t even sound like anymore. The last forty-eight times I watched it there were angels singing – angels named Ant’ny, Carmella and Sal – and it made me miss my old hood. I maybe even miss that stereotypical Bensonhurst inflection…
*A little something extra to show you where I grew up. This guy & his brother were upstairs neighbors!