Have you ever had one of those moments where you realize that something you held as reality — something you believed to be a universal truth or at the very least a fact – turns out to be fake? It’s a bad feeling that makes you question yourself, your worldview, your place in the world, who you are and what you’re doing with your life. This newly discovered information can be devastating or it can be a rebirth of sorts, depending on what you do with it.
In the past, I’ve had a few moments like this. The one I most remember is when I found out I wasn’t Egyptian. When I was six or seven, my Aunt Elsie told me that some of my ancestors were from Europe. In my child’s mind, this sounded very similar to Egypt, and somehow the two got mixed up in my brain and I came to see myself as Egyptian. For the next few years, I told anyone who would listen that I was Egyptian. I was proud to be from the land of pyramids and pharaohs and felt highly superior when anything Egypt-related was discussed in class. I guess someone eventually broke the news to me and I had to accept that there probably wasn’t a direct blood line between King Tut and I, but I can still remember the disappointment. Somehow, European ancestors didn’t seem nearly as exciting as Egyptian ancestors.
I’ve had other moments like this throughout my life, moments that have forced me to abandon previous notions of the world and reorganize my worldview. For example, the whole Santa Clause thing. It’s a pivotal moment in a kid’s life when she goes from believing a fat, jolly guy delivers gifts to kids all over the world on a sleigh pulled by raindeer to realizing your parents are stockpiling gifts in their trunks and quietly placing them under the tree at midnight. Somewhere around 13, I realized I’d ever be more than 5’1 and while I knew I was cute enough, it dawned on me that I probably would never be drop-dead gorgeous. So modeling wasn’t going to work out. And it was during my 11th grade pre-calculus class that I realized I wasn’t a genius. As a kid I idolized authority figures and it was really hard for me to accept that teachers, police officers, doctors and of course, my parents, weren’t perfect people and I remember feeling like I’d been punched when confronted with evidence that these figures who I so admired were just regular people. As an adult, my most memorable life-shattering moment came in the form of finding out my ex-husband had serious Bill Clinton-esque tendencies — and I’m not talking about political astuteness here.
Anyway, the purpose of this long introduction is to establish that we’ve all been through this before – we’ve all encountered some fact, some life-changing realization or just matured enough to recognize that something we held as true – and perhaps beautiful and comforting – doesn’t actually hold water. And we’ve all been both victims and perpetrators of these un-truths. This afternoon I g-chatted my sister and asked her: What are some things you believed as a kid that turned out to be untrue? She responded: Probably a lot of things you told me that turned out to be lies. Sad to think I will never have the kind of power I had as a kid back in the day. Being the oldest does have its perks.
Today was one of those days when yet another un-truth was uncovered.
As I blogged a couple of weeks ago, one of my main talents in life is imitating old-fashioned movie stars. Sure it may sound a little conceited, but I really I feel I’ve mastered it, down to the low, raspy voice, the expressive, dramatic eyes and gestures and, most importantly, that wonderful accent of yesteryear, somewhere between American and British English. I just love the sophisticated-sounding pronunciation of those 1930s and 1940s movies. As someone who enjoys watching black and white movies on dreary rainy afternoons, I often find myself asking: Why oh why don’t people talk this way anymore? Why did we have to start pronouncing our r’s and talking in that nasally American way?
Well today at lunch I was reading the Atlantic and I came upon an article entitled The Rise and Fall of Hepburn’s Fake Accent. Intrigued, I clicked. And guess what? I discovered that the great black and white movie accent, that warm, raspy British-inspired accent — is actually fake. People never actually talked that way! It was completely, utterly made up because movie executives thought it sounded classier than regular old American English. It came about right around the time of Hollywood’s transition from silent films to talking films, was apparently called the “mid-Atlantic accent” and was a speech affection taught by the movie studios to create a more sophisticated effect.
Now, I don’t want to say I’m devastated because that seems like a slight over-reaction to this kind of news, but I am feeling a little sad. I’m a big fan of feeling nostalgic and I feel like I’ve suddenly been forced to relinquish something I held near and dear — I’ve been forced to give up a precious piece of warm, feel-good nostalgia and I don’t like it one bit. I feel genuinely disappointed. I bet that whole “low, raspy” quality is fake too! I know it’s just an accent and a way of talking, but black and white movies just don’t seem quite as romantic when you imagine Katherine Hepburn talking like, I don’t know, Cameron Diaz.
P.S: My mom suggested “The Sedentary Nomad” as my new blog title. Any thoughts?
Categories: Me, Me, Me