I had a meeting yesterday in the office across from the office where I had my very first feature general meeting, almost four years ago.
About thirty seconds into our conversation — and I never do this — I asked the woman I’d just met, “Are you from Texas or Louisiana?”
She stopped for a second, startled. “Both.”
I’m not a Henry Higgins by any stretch of the imagination, but I think all the trips I took last month made me nostalgic for all of the different accents in my life.
I ask where she’s from. “New Orleans, then Dallas, then Austin. But how did you know? I don’t have an accent. I’ve lived here for a very long time.”
She didn’t have a strong accent. At least not at first. But the ends of her sentences sounded like the best parts of my friends, the melody in their words. There’s a sound near the bayou, this “ohw,” sound that comes in on words like, “Own,” “Don’t,” “Home.” When I hear it, I first think of my friend Douglas, and the great group of friends I had in Mississippi. But now it also reminds me of Vince and AB. And her words moved along at a pretty quick clip, with a sharper “r” sound — like my sister’s accent, like the sound of Texas.
The more this woman and I talked, swapping Austin stories and chatting about the way a Southern woman can size you up with the sweetest of smiles and the smallest movement of an eyeball, the more our accents took over. She has friends from Monroe. I took down their names, and on the way home, called Vince and AB.
“Pamie!” When Vince says my name there are three syllables in it. I love it. “We were just talking about you, like — I swear to God — two seconds ago, about your Lifetime Achievement nomination.”
“It means I’m old.”
Of course AB knew both of the women I had learned about in the meeting. AB threw in some gossip, and it turns out Vince went to school with one of them.
When they picked stee and me up at the airport, people were stopping AB to say hello. I turned to Al and asked, “Does this happen a lot?” And Al just nodded her head. “Everybody knows AB.” It was like, “We heard there were some Hollywood people coming to town, so we wanted to have a look-see.”
At my meeting yesterday, as we were talking about all things Louisiana, the woman asked me, “When you were in Monroe… did you drink a lot?”
“I had a bloody mary in my hand by two. And that was from AB’s mother.”
“See? That’s what happened to me, too. At baby showers, and bridal showers, and… just… I have to go to bed at like, ten, you know?”
“Oh. At ten? That’s when we start playing instruments.”
Some people are cut out for Monroe. Some like to go to bed early. That’s okay. More booze and piano for the rest of us.