The woman was from Barcelona, though if she’d said she was from Bulgaria or Lithuania or some country that ends in ‘ia’ I would have believed her. She had long, wiry, light brown hair and dark eyes, and didn’t pronounce Barcelona with the customary lisp.
I had intended to just pick up my $3 million compounded supplements (they were $300, but may as well have been millions for how hard they hit my pocket) and be on my way, but I decided to engage her. Her cold, strong demeanor melted instantly once I asked her where she’s from, and in her eyes, I probably did the same. Funny how we have robotic encounters, and one minor difference creates a tipping point, personalities emerge, eyes light up and engage, like two fireflies in side-by-side jars flittering at the point where their jars meet.
She told me she’d lived in the UK where they spoke a hybrid of Spanish and English, which confused the people back home when she returned. A man in Catalan told her with determination that she must have been German, and while her Spanish was very good, it was clear she was no native speaker.
It’s like how people in Melbourne often ask where I’m from, and when I tell them Australia, they don’t believe me. “You’re English!” they argue. “Are you German?” they question. “Your accent, I hear Yugoslav in there.”
And again today, this Catalan lady told me I have some added accent. I told her I just pick things up, like a dog that doesn’t know it has fleas, and I showed her my LA valley girl accent. Her eyes burst open, she stepped backwards and covered an exasperated laugh. She said she wished she could adopt other accents, and I retorted that it’s only handy if you’re a voice actor or a conman, and I am the former and never the latter, which probably explains why my supplements feel like they fit into a gold-clad sultan’s budget and not mine.
I wished her goodbye, leaving her with a smile where an unreadable silence had earlier stood, and stepped out into the cool grey air of the ocean, of yuppiedom, of Port Melbourne.