Posted at Sep 28, 2012 10:18 am
When my kids were little, there was one sure way to tell if my patience was drawing to an end: my voice would start to change.
Little by little, my ‘r’s would get a little softer, my vowels a little longer, my grammar a little worse. A drawl would come out, and I’d start spouting things like ‘fixing to’. As in, ‘I’m fixin’ to ground y’all, so you’d better settle on down.’
That change would cause my two kids to look at each other and grimace.
No, I wasn’t suffering from some kind of personality disorder. I was just getting my Texan on.
I grew up in Houston, and by the time I got out of high school, I had a pretty good accent, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I only discovered I had an accent of note when I went out to Colorado for college. Clue Number 1 was when my roommate would ask me to talk to her friends on the phone-just so they could hear what I sounded like.
Clue Number 2 came from one of my college professors. I was an education major, and one of my first classes was to prepare a short speech and give it in front of the class. We’d all be videotaped, and then be forced to watch ourselves during a private meeting with our professor. That, of course, scared me to death, and my first speech was even more chocked-full of Texan-isms than usual. My accent was so thick, my professor suggested that I consider getting a new major. He didn’t see how any child was going to learn much listening to a voice like mine.
After that, ah, horrible experience, I made it my goal to lose that accent. And for the most part, I have. Now, living in Ohio, I can almost sound like a northerner. Almost.
Except when I’m really happy. Or really tired. Or really cranky. Or really _____ (just about anything can be put in that blank!). Then, like bluebonnets in spring, that accent comes back with a vengeance.
Nowadays, I kind of greet my old twang like a good, long-lost friend. Hearing that drawl makes me remember a different time in my life, and it brings back memories of being on a drill team, looking out at wide Texas skies, and enjoying the comfort of old Levis and buttery-soft boots.
All that is why it’s always such a joy to write any book set in Texas. Writing about horses and cowboys and plains and Stetsons lets me relax a bit. I ease back into those y’alls and remember a time when I was sure everyone on earth used the phrase ‘fixing to’.
I guess it goes to show that you really can take the girl out of Texas…but maybe not completely take the Texas out of the girl. And now, well, I’m not so sure I’d want that anyway. Each of us needs a little bit of our history with us, don’t you think? Even if it’s just to take out when it’s time to give those kids a talking to.
I hope y’all will enjoy the last book in my Heart of a Hero Trilogy, A Texan’s Choice. Scout Proffitt is one of my favorite heroes, and I loved getting a chance to revisit some of my favorite characters from the series.
In the meantime, please, do share. Do any of y’all have a word or phrase from your childhood that you just can’t give up?
And, please stop back by on Monday. I’ll be giving away ten copies of A Texan’s Choice…for those of you who might want to get your Texan on for a little while, too.
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