Small

a Flashback Friday presentation from 2019

There I was in a cab headed to Brooklyn. The Pakistani cab driver asked me where I was from, and I negligently gestured out the window, “here.” “No. that can’t be. you don’t sound anything like us.”

I had been away for a long time.


It’s true. There’d been a lot of influences in the fifty years since I lit out for New England. I’d lived in Massachusetts and Maine long enough as a young man to influence my speech patterns. But not enough to fool professional linguists who chuckled, and told me that my New York could run, but could not hide. So I laughed with the cabbie on the matter of our relative origins. He’d lived NYC for most of the fifty years I had been gone.
By the time he dropped me off, we had discovered a bond. We were both “from” the same neighborhood – Washington Heights- in Manhattan. He lived less than four blocks along Saint Nicholas Avenue from where I grew up.
The City isn’t only big. It can be small too.

2 Replies to “Small”

  1. Wow, that’s amazing! My husband grew up on L.I., went to college in Manhattan, and though he’s dropped all his R’s after 40+ years in N.E. we still hear, “No, I woont” or “Let me know when you see a sign for WOO-stah.”

    1. After I had been living in Maine long enough to rub off the edges of my “New York” my friends would pawn me off to visitors as an authentic native and have them ask me how to pronounce things. I used to get mad at them. I think now that I have a kind of weird hybrid which sometimes includes British, and Canadian things, and of course, lots of nautical slang.

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