Emily is a charming young woman, if I do say so myself, since I raised her. She is amazingly talented in art and music, a loving sister who pinch-hits as Mom when I’m sick, loves to read British literature and has a knack for communicating with those who, due to various circumstances, disabilities or conditions, have a hard time communicating with anyone else. At 15 years old, she possesses poise and a propensity for comedy far beyond her years.
Take, for example, yesterday’s lunchtime conversation. Her part of it was delivered entirely in a fairly accurate British accent.
“I’m going to talk like this all afternoon. I’ll tell people my name is Rose. Rose Capps. From England. I’ll say I lived in…um…. Yale!”
At this point her friend, Amanda and I are doing our best not to spit out our sodas, turning red in the face and shaking uncontrollably with suppressed laughter.
Emily is still excited about her role. “That’s good, right? Oh, wait, is Yale a town in England? Or is it a college? Or a kind of cheese? It sounds like a kind of cheese, actually.”
That sets us off all over again, but I finally manage to swallow my soda and gasp, “Emily, Yale is a university… (I pause for dramatic effect)… in AMERICA!”
Now it’s her turn to go red in the face and struggle with keeping her soda in her mouth.
Eventually she calms down and says, “All right then, what town were you born in?” She figures it will be safe if she just sticks to her mothers’ roots.
It’s important that she get an accurate backstory prepared ahead of time, you see, because of the Halloween Debacle of 2009. She pulled the accent thing that night, speaking loudly to Amanda with it while walking around our neighborhood dressed as a girl from the 70s. It would have been okay, but she got cocky and kept it going even when she knocked on doors, and sure enough, at one house the lady squealed, “Oh! You’re English? So is my husband! Nigel, come here and meet the English girl.” She then had to keep the accent going through an entire conversation with Nigel, and of course he asked her where she was from. She grabbed the first location name she could think of in a split-second and told him “Cotswood.” It wasn’t until she got home and related the story that I explained that the “Cotswolds” is a REGION of England, not a town. Which probably explains why Nigel was looking at her funny.
So this time, being a year and a half older and that much wiser, she knows an accurate backstory is mandatory. So she borrows mine.
“I was born in Stanwell,” I reply. I can’t say the name of that town without pronouncing it the British way. It’s one of the few pieces of my original accent that are hardwired into my brain.
“Stanwell,” she practices, rolling it around on her tongue. “Stanwell.” Amanda and I take another bite of food, exchanging a patient yet meaningful glance (we do this a lot around Emily, especially when she gets fanciful like this).
“Right, I’ve got it. My name is Rose Capps, and I’m from Stanford.”
I almost choked on my broccoli beef.
“What?” she asks impatiently.
“Stanford is a university,” I sigh, and then Amanda and I say in chorus, “IN AMERICA!”
She decides to stay American for the rest of the afternoon.