You Still Can’t Dance

Who can resist someone with a foreign accent?  They make asking for extra ketchup sound oh so exotic.  You find yourself crossing rooms or grocery stores just to ask where they’re from.  Every syllable they utter reminds you that they are cool.

One of the best parts of travelling overseas is suddenly finding that you are the one with this vocal ticket to cool-dom.

The same voice that got you nowhere at home suddenly has the waiter bringing you extra bread and the bus driver making people move so you can sit down.  For a few days or a few weeks you get to be the interesting foreign one.

The problem with this is that it can go to your head.  You find yourself thinking that you have finally emerged as the witty butterfly you always knew you could be.  But beware; your accent will only get you so far.  After you’ve charmed the crowd pronouncing “pergola” and “caramel” the interest quickly fades.  And if you push your luck too far you’ll find yourself dancing alone as the creepy, weird one.

get out there and say lots of words

Here’s a little tip to help keep you grounded: if it wasn’t cool at home, it’s not cool overseas.  If you weren’t good at it at home, you’re not good at it in a new place.  Avoid singing, playing instruments or playing sports that made you look like an idiot back home.  You will still look like an idiot.  Reciting the months of the year in your newly glorified accent will not stop the locals from judging you when you do the worm.  You still can’t dance, and there’s nothing your accent can do about it.

It’s tempting to take your moment in the spotlight and run with it.  But unless you want to outstay your welcome in a new country, you need to recognize the limitations of your newfound awesomeness.  People may stop to ask you where you’re from when you order “fries” instead of “chips,” but they’re still not interested in hearing your stance on the fishing industry or the funny story of you and the pencil.

Oh, and don’t try and bring back a new accent when you return home.  Spending a week in England does not give you the right to start calling your cell phone a “mobile.”  Don’t say “cheers” or “ciao” or “adios” unless you are British or Italian or Spanish.  Your moment of being cool and foreign ends the moment your plane lands back home.

enjoy your moment as the foreign one

So enjoy having a foreign accent while you can.  But remember, you still can’t dance.

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2 responses to “You Still Can’t Dance”

  1. Jack says :

    I have never made so many friends as when I was the “cool foreign” guy ni Mexico. Who knew Oregon is exotic to some people?

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