Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mrs. B

Yesterday I saw an Ear, nose, and throat specialist. On Sunday I visited the emergency room.

And these things got me to thinking about something that I've been doing automatically. For years. Abroad.

I play stupid.

Actually I play stupid American. Not that Americans are any more stupid than representatives of other nations (only some, such as Bush, Palin, and a few other public and not so public figures), but that's just how my accent comes across.

(Wow. Just googled Stupid Americans and spent the next 20 minutes reading this. Ouch! But let's pretend like no time has passed. 'kay.)

It seems that my strategy for surviving a new situation, in which I'm not 100% sure how to proceed, and especially of the medical variety but also sometimes extending to behavior towards wait staff, receptionists, sales clerks, and anybody new I'm on the phone with, is to channel a large midwestern woman, possibly called Elisabeth, but who prefers Betty.

Betty says things like "Thanks so much," "Purrrrfect!", "Riiigght, now I understand," and "So what exactly does that mean?" Betty is kind. She smiles like somebody's glued her cheeks like that, and she is loud and clear.

Above all, she is painfully loud and clear.

The Hubs, on the other hand, channels a British Bloke, whom we could call BB, but BB would just beat us up for that, so Bloke will suffice. Bloke is always saying "cheers", and "mate", and recently, since he's been getting used to the South African sun he might say "How iz it?" to everything, to everyone, everywhere. The proof of his continued Britishness still, of course, being that the correct South African term would be "Howzit."

Oh my, is that Bloke approaching? Should not have made fun of him... Shhh!!! Everybody smile and don't say a word!

But why not be our usual selves? (I know. Which one? It would be so hard to choose just one Ext for a specific occasion. I need multiple just to keep Drunk Ext quiet most of the time.)

Well, while I can't vouch for the Hubs, seeing as Bloke is not always too clear, and sometimes apparently comes off confusingly Irish and/or Australian, what there is to be said for Betty is that the woman gets things done.

D.O.N.E., completed, finished, before Ext even ever gets over the fact that the doctor's receptionist is wearing some sort of a light blue polyester kaftan, has gift wrapped all of her folders in christmas wrapping paper with gold stars on it, and has just asked Ext to complete a form in Afrikaans.

At that point, Betty is already joking with the doctor about a frightening attack of the green pus, commenting on the receptionist's cute 'dress' and her obvious penchant for crafts, and talking to people in the elevator on the way down.

And not swearing even once.

And I, as do all the other Exts, love Betty dearly for her efforts. Sometimes, however, we just wish she wouldn't have to complicate everything by telling people she is actually from Finland. That just tends to  result in an awkward silence and quizzical looks. And she does drink an awful lot. But I think that's just peer pressure.


Not Betty! However, there are some eerie similarities to Ext.

What about you. How are your personalities hanging today?

10 comments:

Two Flights Down said...

I play stupid, as well! I don't mean to, or do it intentionally. Sometimes I just stop and think, "Wow. I tend to play stupid a lot."

Sometimes I wonder if I actually write this blog, but with a personality I'm unaware. But, then, I wonder how I'd manage to go back and forth from Africa to Japan and things don't add up.

Though, they usually never do.

If I did have such a witty personality within, I wish she'd show her face when I was trying to do the whole creative writing thing...

Miss Footloose said...

Instead of playing stupid I often just tell them right there and then:

"I know I am stupid, so just go slow / explain it again / would you repeat that? And so on. People love to feel superior and I give them a chance.

Or: "I'm not from around here and I'm a bit slow." I even say that in my own home country, where I often feel the stupidest of all since I haven't lived there for decades and it's often foreign to me. Of course I will say this in fluent Dutch and get really strange looks until the realization dawns: She is really stupid.

Of course, the fact is that I am stupid a lot. Or maybe I should be kind to myself and call it ignorant. Naw, stupid.

Miss Footloose
www.lifeintheexpatlane.blogspot.com
Tales of the Globetrotting Life

Miss Footloose said...

Having said the above,

HOW IS YOUR EAR !?

Lorac said...

Sorry to hear you are ill. I just got over an allergic reaction to antibiotics that put me in the hospital so I really feel for you! Hope all turns out well! Oh ya, I am a Gemini so lots of personalities to use here!

M.J. said...

When I'm abroad, I often speak Spanish because I get tired of being treated like a "stupid American."

Steven Anthony said...

When the situation calls for me to play dumb, his name is Bob, I think Bob and Betty would be greatg friends...lol

Optimistic Pessimist said...

playing stupid american is highly underrated. my repsect for you (or is it Betty) just went up a couple of levels.

Not So Glamorous Housewife said...

I play stupid girl when I need something or when I get pulled over for speeding. No tickets yet! Men are so easy.

omchelsea said...

I feel so much better for knowing I'm not the only one who outs my inner bimbo and calls her Jessilee!

My name is Erin. said...

Nope. Pure genius here. Everything I say is brilliant and insightful.

Everything.

:)