“I Should Listen to More Reggae,” by Diane Callahan

May 2nd, 2018 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

I once pretended to be Jamaican for five minutes.

Considering the fact that I’m whiter than mozzarella and have lived in Ohio my entire life, this was no small feat. The incident occurred during what was meant to be a simple interaction at a Kroger deli counter. My usual tactic for getting a store employee’s attention involves silently staring at them until they turn around and jump like frightened cats encountering a cucumber for the first time. However, this process can take more time than any mortal should rightfully waste, and no matter how long I stared, the middle-aged meat man working the counter that day refused to acknowledge my feeble existence.

I knew I’d have to resort to more drastic measures: actually talking to another human being.

“Um, hello? I’d like a quarter pound of pepperoni, please?” I ventured. (A note to socially competent readers: for the awkward turtles of society, most statements turn into questions before we can politely ask them not to.)

The meat man’s eyes brightened with unadulterated curiosity as he asked, “Are you from Jamaica?”

The standard Midwest accent I came equipped with has never been mistaken for anything beyond Canadian, but I must have had an odd lilt in my voice. After two seconds of frantic deliberation, my brain decided that it would be better to go along with the charade than admit that I was as boring as a cornfield.

“Yes, I am,” I replied, in an approximation of a Jamaican accent inspired by one Bob Marley song. I mentally apologized to an entire country.

“Which part?” he asked. My brain shriveled.

“Oh, you know. Around.”

His smile waned as he turned to slice up my beefy chub, or whatever pepperoni is made of, and I could finally let my sphincter relax. Unfortunately, the pleasantries weren’t over yet.

“Maybe I’ll visit Jamaica someday,” he said cheerfully. “I hear the weather’s always nice.”

“Ah, it’s warm as hell—but better.” I tried to remain calm, but I had somehow settled into an Irish brogue. Surely, the gig was up.

“If you say so…” The meat man handed me my meaty sack of meat, his nose scrunched as if he’d caught a whiff of the fear oozing from my pores.

I took my pepperoni and ran, praying that I would never meet the guy again. But, just in case, I watched some YouTube videos when I got home and subjugated my cat to my new accent. One never knows, mon.


Diane Callahan enjoys thinking about writing fantasy and sci-fi stories. She hosts a YouTube channel called Quotidian Writer, providing advice to those who also aspire to think about writing novels.

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