I’m a yankee. My wife reminds me of this on a regular basis. When we’re out with friends or visiting extended family in the Texas Hill Country it’s an awkward source of embarrassment for my in-laws. My father the Texas tobacco lobbyist went to his grave with the sad reality that his daughter married someone from the same state as Ted Kennedy.
And it seems I can’t escape, even in the clinic.
I was on the phone recently with a mother upset after a run in with a less-than-cordial pharmacist. In a fit of exasperation this mother declared in heavy Mississippi accent, “Dr. V, I believe that man is a yankee!” I didn’t know what to say. It was after hours and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was wearing a well-weathered Red Sox cap. A lot like my cap, fifteen years in Texas had worn my Boston accent to something barely recognizable. I tried to commiserate but really didn’t know what to say. I was verklempt.
I was again reminded of my alien status during a recent horse drawn carriage tour of a plantation in Charleston, SC. At the outset of the tour the carriage driver asked where everybody was from. With the exception of some token Europeans, all claimed citizenship below the Mason Dixon line. The carriage demographics apparently gave the driver license to deliver a healthy, family style serving of history – Southern style (all along it had been my understanding that the Civil War was over). While I enjoyed the tour, in the end my feelings for the old South failed to leave me misty.
And so it goes, at home, in the clinic or on the plantation, I’m just a stranger in a foreign land.