While I was preparing my ginger/lemon tea this afternoon on The Karl Show (the imaginary show where I narrate everything I do), I realized something I do a lot that nobody else knows about. That’s because I never do it around other people. Funny, I don’t even realize I’m doing it most of the time. It’s like blinking to me. And yet I subconsciously know not to do it in public.
I speak in foreign accents. A lot. Perhaps a disturbing amount of the time. Even more now with this new med I’m on.
Sometimes it’s just goofy cartoon voices, but most of the time it’s an accent. I go entire days with a British accent. Even the most stupid mundane things sound classy with a British accent, and stupid mundane things are really a large part of my daily life.
I was peeling and slicing ginger just a while ago, using my best English accent. “Now, it’s up to you how you peel your ginger. Some people like to use a knife, but I prefer a spoon. See how easily the skin comes off that ginger? And no chance of stabbing yourself! Absolutely brilliant.”
It was better than the “Great British Baking Show,” let me tell you. For one thing, my show has a lot more swearing.
“Careful while you’re slicing the lemon, now. I’m using a very sharp knife and we wouldn’t want to cut off our fucking fingers, would we? That would be dreadful!”
“Well, let’s see what’s in the post today, shall we? Ooh, correspondence from another creditor! ‘FINAL NOTICE.’ Those are always a smashing good time!”
“My, look at the lovely lady who just sat beside us at the bar! I think it’s time to say something ridiculously awkward about how she smells like King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls and how I love to eat those. I’m sure she’ll find that delightful.”
“Isn’t it a wonderful thing having someone dart out in front of you so you have to slam on your brakes? Makes you wish you had a bloody cactus on hand so you could plant it up their fucking arse, doesn’t it?”
See? Classy as shit.
This odd little affectation/compulsion of mine to speak with accents is another thing I adopted in childhood. I touched on it a little bit here, how I used to perform in my room all the time, practicing voices and accents. In fact, the voices, accents, and self-narration have been with me most of my life.
Many times, when for whatever reason my brother and sister weren’t with me, I’d be walking to school alone and just narrating the whole time in various accents and voices. I’d discuss anything and everything…aspects of home life, what was going on with my favorite TV shows, what girls I liked (not that I’d ever talk to them). Sometimes I’d frame it as an interview where I did both parts: The interviewer and me. Because, you know, I led such an exciting life, anyone would be thrilled to interview me.
Those solo walks were perhaps more important than ever knew. I had no one to talk to about my depression. Scratch that. I didn’t THINK I had anyone to talk to about my depression. That may or may not have been true. Who knows what would have happened if I’d brought it up? Psychiatry was never really a respected science in my house, nor was it really very popular anywhere back then.
Despite the silly accents and voices, those walks were really the only time I spoke candidly about everything going on in my head. All my thoughts and feelings, no matter how dark, were fair game. I was free from judgment on those walks – well, judgment from anyone else, anyway – and free from reprisal. I don’t know why, but I felt I’d get in trouble for letting anyone know the things I was truly thinking. Instead, I just played the clown most of the time and kept everyone in the dark as much as possible.
When I wasn’t on those solo walks, and that was most of the time, I bottled my emotions up tight. Yeah, not as well as I can now, but still. I’ve got decades of experience over that young kid. My poker face is a lot better. But I did really well at it most of the time, even then.
These days, my silly accents discuss only silly stuff. The Karl Show doesn’t ever cover the deeper emotional material. I’ve kind of given up on that. Burned out, over-therapized, tired of talking about the same old shit, whatever you want to call it. I’m back to bottling, not that I really ever gave it up.
But if you’d like to dash to the chemist with me to pick up prescriptions in a while, let me know. Saying medication names in British is awesome. Plus, we’re sure to get a handful of horrid drivers there and back. Everyone is 90 years old and has forgotten how to drive. Our lives will be in peril the entire way. It shall be a great adventure!