Albertan Colby Cosh reports from Florida:
I have to admit I had some subconscious trouble dealing with Americanness when I went to Florida last year for the Western Standard Cruise. It was really my first time anywhere on the east coast proper, and my first time in the South, and as it turned out I hadn’t psychologically prepared myself….
There was a related but very different effect once I got onto the boat, where the WS passengers were immediately immersed in a sea of overtanned gravel-voiced northeasterners between the ages of 50 and 80. For some reason all the Seinfeld accents (Oh my gawd, Lenny, you have to troy the smoked SAAA-m’n) just made me giggly instead of resentful. Whenever possible I’d just hang out in one of the restaurants after breakfast, listening to old Italians and Poles, folks from Philly and Boston. Everything these people say sounds like movie dialogue to me–they could be talking about shaving their corns and I’d be inhaling it like it was Chekhov. Again, it’s not strictly a matter of accent but also of how outlandishly oral these people are because of the different cultural influences–it’s like absolutely everything that’s ever in their minds has to be communicated at once or they’ll physically explode. Going to the States always makes me despair of ever writing a novel, because I discover I was born with a great disadvantage–namely, that I live in a place where people’s inner lives are actually interior. It’s not even fair, really: in the U.S. it just seems like you could create excellent literature with a tape recorder.