I've been in North Carolina long enough not to be thrown too hard when someone's thick drawl twists the English language into new and interesting shapes.
I've even grown comfortable dropping phrases that, back in New England, might cause people to tilt their head sideways like a dog catching the sound of a high, distant whistle. Phrases such as "might-could," "horndog," "y'all" and its plural "all y'all" have been known to escape me, and I am not ashamed to say I enjoy sinking into their loose-fitting, casual comfort.
But, every once in a while, I come across someone whose accent is so thick, so impenetrable, so immune to the efforts of a public education, as to make it practically impossible to decipher what they are trying to say.
The morning I married my Lovely Wife, my groomsmen and I dressed in our tuxedos and went for breakfast at the waffle house adjacent to our hotel. Before delivering our morning meal to the table, the waitress asked us a question. When we stared blankly at her like babies at a spinning, musical mobile, she repeated, "Y'all want beebs?" The poor woman had to pantomime for us before we understood she was offering us bibs to protect our suits.
More recently, while bringing the German to the doctor for a follow up appointment for his broken thumb, we came across a kindly old man in the waiting room. After passing several minutes in awkward silence, he leaned over to the German and asked, "Jew rae san coz?"
Sensing he meant well, I pretended I hadn't heard him and gave him a quizzical look. He leaned forward and repeated his question to both of us. The second time around yielded no further understanding.
My mind raced to decipher the meaning. I enjoy puzzles, after all, so I should be able to figure this out without asking him to say it again.
Let's see, "jew" is easy. He means "you." Okay, one down, three to go.
On to "rae." No idea, not even a guess. Skip it.
"San coz." Again, nothing, except for his inflection, suggesting the words belong together.
Then I spot the Christmas tree behind him that the office staff decorated for the lobby.
Christmas... San coz... Santa Claus! "Are you ready for Santa Claus?"
"Yes!" I answer proudly for me and my son, startling the man with the vigor of my response.
"We are most definitely rae san coz!"
2010 Mark Feggeler