When I was thirteen I returned to the United States, having lived for three years in Cheltenham, England. I brought with me my full blown British accent, acquired within a few short months of living in the ‘hood.
Naturally, at thirteen, I was desperate fit in with my peers, so I found it objectionable that my accent made me different. My brother Tim and I shared a desire to rid ourselves as quickly as humanly possible of the accent which had dubbed us both, “English Muffin” by our new “friends.” Each day when we arrived home from school, after getting our chores completed, we would “practice” speaking American.
I was quite proud of my success in re-mastering my native accent. That was all well and fine, but I neglected to pay attention to the differences in the WORDS used in the U.S. versus those used in England.
So it was, that during an English exam, in my eighth grade classroom, as silence loomed large, I discovered I needed to “rub out” (erase) an answer. Having started my paper without being properly prepared, I decided I would whisper to my buddy Chris, asking if he could help me out.
“Chris, do you have a rubber I could borrow, please?”
Well, dear friends, I don’t know if you have ever had the experience of being as thoroughly humiliated as I was at that very moment. For Chris, threw back his head and laughed the loudest, most contagious laugh I have ever heard – all the while busting his gut as he exclaimed,
“Judy wants to borrow a RUBBER!!!”
Now, I want you to know that I was embarrassed by his reaction…I still did not understand what was so funny….my teacher had to take me aside and explain….I was MORTIFIED. To this day, my brain still calls the eraser a rubber, but my translator has gotten better at preventing it from slipping out of my mouth!