short stories, short story

Tennessee Trees

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So, Tennesse was a strange place to me, when I moved here, less than two years ago.

Here are some lovely Tennessee trees, at sunset. I took these outside of the Dollar General Store last week.

I am originally from Baltimore. Maryland. I grew up there, went to college there, and lived there till my 30’s.

In Maryland, the locals like to say that Maryland counts as a southern state, because after all “we are south of the Mason Dixon Line.”

Funny thing is, since I’ve actually been living in the south,  I’ve never heard any real southerners stake their claim to being a southern state, based on being south of the Mason Dixon Line !

In fact, I’ve never heard anyone mention the Mason Dixon Line at all, since I’ve been here. They don’t feel the need to justify being in the south.

And no one down here thinks Maryland is a southern state. Only Marylanders do, apparently.

The accent is funny here, in Tennessee,  but I don’t notice it as loudly as I did, when I first arrived here.

There is basically no “long I ” sound at all. If you want to say the word “eye” …it is “Ahh”….like in the word “sonic.”

It’s basically a short “o” vowel sound (like box, fox, or socks) , in place of any long “I” sound that should be in like, bike, sight, might etc.

So you end up with …Ahh mahh-t  get a mahh-t to eat.”

Or you could write it as “Ahh  mot go get a bot to eat.”

Rather than “I might go get a bite to eat.”

I had more trouble understanding people than my daughter did. A few times I had to ask her what in the world someone had just said to us, after thet had walked away.

Once we were in the hospital for some nasty flu, and the triage nurse was weighing my daughter and getting her height, like they do. That nursing assistant kept saying something about “sonometer”.

And I thought she was trying to say sonogram or something. I had no idea why we would need a sonogram for the flu. I was thinking maybe the poor girl just wasn’t too smart.

After we were in our room, my daughter leaned towards me and whispered,  “Mom, she was saying “centimeters.” She was telling you how many centimeters tall  I am.”

I was like “what? Seriously ?”

She was like,  “Yep. She was saying centimeters. But it sounded like sonimeters ”

So that was pretty funny, and it’s a funny memory for us now.

I have had a Baltimore accent, for most of my life. When I moved to New Jersey 12 years ago, people there often didn’t understand me, especially over the phone. But eventually, I ended up adjusting my accent when I was speaking to people I didn’t know; trying to filter out the Baltimore vowels and the way I was used to pronouncing “DR” like a “J”…..

Examples  of Baltimore pronunciations –

Drink is Jrink

Dresser is Jresser

Drunk is Jrunk

Drip is Jrip

So, after over 13 years living in Jersey, I kind of had a “half – Baltimore/ half – Jersey” accent.

So you can imagine how I must have sounded to the Tennessee folks !

They didn’t know what to make of me. ….except for that cool lady that works at my local gas station , that’s originally from Wisconsin !

That would be Shannon.

I think I may be the less strange accent to the Tennessee locals , than hers is ! I’ve gotten to be friends with her, and she loves when I come up to the little gas station hut to chat with her.

Anyway, so now I’ve been in the Knoxville area of Tennessee, for coming up on 2 years. I think October (around Halloween) will make 2 years.

I remember our first Halloween here. My teenage daughter was afraid the Halloween scare house and haunts would not be as good as Jersey. (New Jersey did have awesome scare houses) .

And she was sure no one was going to like her, and that she would not fit in.

But I went online and found a haunted attraction , called Dead Man’s Farm. She reluctantly agreed to go with me.

We ended up having the best time ! It was a really cool haunted farm and barn. She loved it. They had a bonfire in the big open , grassy area.

Not only that, she immediately made friends with the group that was behind us, in the line to go into the haunted barn.

One of the 20 year old girls was scared to go into the barn.

My daughter held her hand, and kept track of her all the way through. I think the girl may otherwise have made a run for it, out one of the windows.

Afterwards, we took pictures together , with that group. My daughter was chattering all the long ride home, about how much fun she had and how the people just included her.

Even some of the actors, that were working in the haunted barn, got into some of the pictures with my daughter.

No one even mentioned her Jersey accent. They were more concerned with a farm zombie jumping out with a hatchet!

When it gets closer to Halloween, I’ll locate those pictures from that night and share them with you.

Let’s hope the haunts will be open this year, so I can get new pictures to share.

Happy 2020. Hang in there ! We’ll make to the other end of this tunnel, one way or another !!

 

 

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