Bird Brain Ideas: Duck and Cover

One word out of my mouth is a dead give-away that I am not from wherever it is that I happen to be. Surprisingly even here in Texas my accent is the “something special” that people notice about me. When people ask where I’m from, the question that usually follows is where I met my husband, since he’s a Yankee, and that story is usually good for a laugh.

It goes something like this:

There was this leadership school instructor teaching a module on communication styles, who told this cockamamie story about two rednecks he had overheard talking while he was in Montgomery, Alabama and he held up cards with the alleged conversation for someone to read aloud:

MR Ducks

MR Knot

OSMR

CM Wangs

LIB

MR Ducks

Well, of course, the student didn’t read the ridiculousness correctly, and the instructor, thinking he was sooooo funny, told him that no, the two men were not Mr. Ducks and Mr. Knot, nor was there any such word as ossmer, but that these two rednecks were having an argument about the identity of some birds in the middle of a pond and that what they said was this:

First redneck: “’Them are ducks.”

Second redneck: “Them are not.”

First redneck: “Oh yes them are, see them wings?”

Second redneck: “Well, I’ll be, them are ducks.”

After class I didn’t let the instructor get two steps from the door before I said, “Sergeant, I am from Alabama and we DO NOT talk like that!”  (twangy indignation implied) He smiled and walked away. A few days later, we had a uniform inspection. The same instructor went down the line…inspecting. He stopped in front of me, checked, checked, wrote something down and said, “Demerit, name tag,” and moved on.

This did more than ruffle my feathers. I’m certain there was smoke coming from my ears.

I adjusted my name tag the one 1 millionth of a millimeter by which this oh so smart, Staff Sergeant seemed to think it was crooked, and was hot on his heels to have the demerit removed from my record. Standing there, pissed, and never thinking for a single second that twenty-one years later I would be telling the story of how I met my Yankee husband, I said, “Sergeant Briggs, I’m ready to be re-inspected.”

The rest is history. Since then, we’ve laughed, learned, celebrated, relocated, endured hardship and watched our children become adults. Sometimes people make assumptions based on a single piece of information. They may think you’ve had no exposure to the world outside the pigeon-hole where they want to put you. Sometimes, I’ve learned, they may be genuinely interested in getting to know you.

Lucky them.

Stereotypes are funny. Knowing the boundaries comes easier to some than others. There are ignorant people everywhere and when they cross our paths, we don’t have to be offended by them. There are more important things to concern ourselves with, and that my friends, is the best I can do today to practice tolerance for bird brains.

Oh, and to be funny.


Junior Duck Stamp Program
Mallards
Samantha Bell, 18
Pastel, pencil, acrylic

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11 Responses to Bird Brain Ideas: Duck and Cover

  1. Hala J. says:

    Hah, I really can relate to this. Except with me no one ever can pinpoint where I’m from. I’m tall and have green eyes and speak with a flawless but neutral American accent. No one thinks I’m even Arab, let alone Lebanese. In Canada, when they knew I was Arab they were boggled by my English…like it’s impossible to be raised in an Arab country and not speak English perfectly well. It’s kind of annoying but mostly it’s amusing. There was even one of my Karate instructors who was genuinely surprised when I told her that there are huge cities in Saudi Arabia and they drive modern and often very expensive cars. Hell even in my own country people think I’m American or foreign. Makes for some amusing anecdotes!

  2. Accents are so quirky. My uncle is from Louisiana, and his girlfriend is from rural Georgia. Their accents sound similar to me, yet he complains that her accent is so thick he can’t understand her!

  3. Funny! (I bet you never duck a hard question.) And people do need to lighten up.

  4. swlothian says:

    Speaking of stereotypes. I bet you think I always throw shrimp on the barbie, have a pet koala and that kangaroos always jump up my street. Crikey!

  5. Terrific story and a point well made!

  6. Brigitte says:

    Oh, and P.S. I married a “Yankee” too. :). I think my comments are coming in as anonymous again. Shoot.

  7. Brigitte says:

    I can so relate to this. Those stereotypes infuriate me. As far as I know everyone from the south has retired their corn-cob pipes and cleaned the stills out of their backyards. “Lucky them” indeed. Love the song — love it. :D.

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