"Did you say cookout?" she was shocked. And I couldn't understand her reaction.
She explained that out in the west people seemed to use "grill" and "barbecue" more than "cookout," which is the word that she was used to in the Midwest.
It didn't surprise me at all that people find my vocabulary and accent rather strange and offbeat. More than a couple of people find that I pronounce "about" as if I had spent some time in the Canadian frontiers. One couple asked me years ago whether my English teachers were from Scotland, or if they had been trained in Scotland, because of what they considered to be traces of Scottish accent. I was asked about my Scottish accent at a conference here in the US.. A student asked me about my Irish-sounding accent. Back in graduate school, a fellow Indian student thought I spoke with a Bengali accent.
The other day, a junior colleague asked me whether I had any culture shock when I came to the US. In replying to her question, I played the same joke that I have shared with students for years: "if you think my accent makes me difficult to understand, you ought to be thankful you didn't meet me when I was fresh off the boat." The colleague said, "you have a beautiful accent."
I have no idea where I picked up the accent that I have and the words that I use. The friend comments that sometimes I use words and idioms that became out-of-fashion back in the 1950s! I suppose I am an old soul who has traveled the world including places that I have not been to!
I do have plans for a cookout. Not at my place. At a friends'--a Memorial Day tradition almost since moving to Oregon, with a couple of missed years in between.
Yet again, I will climb down from the veg-wagon. This time in order to have the annual hotdog--almost charred and smoked while holding it over the embers.
Having already shared with the regulars there my favorite Dalai Lama joke that I picked up from a philosophy show a few years ago, I will refrain from that this year. But, I will share that with you ;)
The Dalai Lama visits Times Square and is excited being a tourist. He decides to get himself a New York hotdog, and walks up to a vendor and says "make me one with everything."
(I will pause for your laughter. What? You didn't get the joke? tsk, tsk!)
Anyway, after getting the hotdog, the monk asks how much he has to pay. The vendor says "eight bucks." The Dalai Lama gives him a twenty and waits for the twelve back.
The vendor does not give him anything.
The Dalai Lama then asks the vendor, "hey, what about the change?"
The hotdog vendor replies, "change comes from within."
(You got this joke at least?)