When I was a kid, I used to fantasize that my family would move to a new city, where I would go to school and fake a British accent from day one. I thought it would make the kids want to be my friend and help them see me as unique. I have no doubt they would have seen me as unique.
If only we could move, I lamented, I could get a fresh start with my new accent.
I considered doing the accent at my current school, but I knew it wouldn't work. I had been there since first grade - I couldn't fool those classmates into thinking I developed a British accent overnight. So instead, after visiting my uncle in Kansas City for a couple of weeks the summer before fifth grade, I came home claiming that I had picked up his accent. Truth be told, I was probably a lot better at impersonating the British. My "northern accent," as I called it, sounded more like a southerner pronouncing his vowels like a goose.
I'm sure talking like a Yankee didn't help anything with the kids at school, but I probably fared better than I would've if we had actually moved. I can only imagine how much I would have been ridiculed when my new classmates heard my faux British accent. I would've been pegged as a freak; the insulting nicknames would've invented themselves: "Prince Willy," - maybe even "Princess Di."
The whole accent thing was probably my way of screaming that I didn't feel comfortable in my own skin, that I was willing to do anything to make other kids like me. But I'm sure it just made me come across as a weirdo to my classmates and probably to a number of teachers too.
Sometimes when I get around a group of children, I run across one of those kids like me. He's doing some odd something that nobody understands, and it just ends up making him look peculiar. If he's lucky and he keeps a low profile, he might be fortunate enough to get ignored. But kids like that are usually too weird to go unnoticed for long.
The sad fact is that everyone's Darwinian instinct will eventually kick in, and that kid is going to get eaten alive. But if my life is any indicator, what doesn't kill that kid will only make him stronger - I mean, unless it doesn't, and he ends up killing himself or hurts a bunch of other people. I guess that's always a possibility too. Let's hope that doesn't happen.
Actually, let's do more than hope it doesn't happen. On behalf of my latent oddball self, if you know some harmless, weirdo kid, do me a favor and single him out for special treatment. You know, like maybe you could compliment that awful British accent of his, but tell him he sounds way cooler when he uses his American one. Just do something - anything - to make him feel like he belongs, because that's all he really wants.
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