I want to start saying howdy. Howdy folks. I wonder if I just start saying it, if people will give me a reaction or not. I won’t even try to ease it in. It’ll just be like one day I’ll wake up, go to work, and when I get to work, whoever sees me first and goes, “Hey Rob,” I’ll just respond, “Howdy.” I’m picturing this playing out in my head and I’m wondering if that other person would say anything at all. Probably not. If somebody said howdy to me in the morning, I’d just think to myself in my head, well that had to be about as painful as this day is going to get, and so maybe I’d be relieved. But I’d really just be glad to be away from whoever said that to me.
Let’s say I say howdy to somebody in the morning and I don’t get a reaction. So I keep it up. I keep saying howdy to everyone I see that day. Are people going to start talking amongst themselves? “Hey, did Rob say howdy to anybody else this morning?” Or am I overinflating my already inflated sense of self, just assuming that people are even paying attention to me in the morning, let alone having side discussions about my greetings?
I have to reverse the situation again, imagining somebody else saying howdy to me. I’d totally ignore it. I’d think to myself, well, somebody sure wants a little extra attention today. And I’m not going to be the one to give it to them. But it would probably eat away at me inside. Howdy? Is that person even from Texas? Do people really say howdy in Texas or is that just something they do on TV?
Every once in a while I’ll meet somebody new and we’ll have a totally regular conversation and maybe ten or fifteen minutes into it I’ll ask, “So where are you from?” and they’ll be like, “Oh, St. Louis, Missouri” or “Dallas.” And I’m just like, what? You don’t even have what I imagine to be a Southern accent. And so I’m lead to believe that people don’t really talk like that in real life, you know with the drawl and the “Hey y’all,” and the “Howdy pardner.” Either that or the effects of national TV have finally changed all once regional accents, making everybody talk the way everybody talks on TV, which is what I just assume to be regular.
But even that’s not the case, because I live in New York but I don’t talk with the whole stereotypical New York accent. I’d try to write it out phonetically, but that’s what other people do when they’re trying to make fun of New York online, like on message boards and stuff, and I always think to myself, I don’t know anybody that talks like that in real life.
Well, even that’s only partially true. Sure I’m not personally friends with anybody who talks like they just walked off the set of the Sopranos. But I’ll run into somebody who really lays it on pretty thick every now and then. And I always think to myself, all right buddy, I get it, you’re out New Yorking me. And this is something I’m very sensitive to, because I didn’t grow up in New York City, I grew up like five miles across the Queens border on Long Island. And so it’s always this tough situation, every once in a while I’ll come across somebody who’s all about New York, born and raised NYC, much more New York than me, I never leave New York kind of New York. And what do I do, do I fight it? Do I embrace my Long Island roots?
Honestly I think all of my problems might be solved by simply incorporating howdy into my everyday vocabulary. It’ll give people a bunch of mixed messages that I won’t ever feel inclined to explain. I started this nonsense imagining everybody’s individual reactions to me saying howdy. But even if nobody said anything, even if everybody just pretended to ignore it, there would come a day weeks after I’ve started saying howdy on an individual basis where I’d walk into a room with several if not all of my coworkers, and I’d say something like, “Howdy folks. How’re y’all doing today?”
And maybe nobody would say anything. Maybe they’d be like, “Where did Rob grow up? New York? Long Island? Atlanta?” But again, I’m probably over imagining the whole thing. And really, I’m reading this back to myself, because that’s what I always do, I read it out loud to make sure it sounds natural, and I can’t get through it. I keep getting stuck on the howdy, like I just can’t get myself to say it. And maybe that’s what would happen in real life. It would just sound awful, ridiculous, and people would start to hate me.
But it’s silly to make fun of how we talk. It’s all English. And sure, it’s easy to caricature the differences, but we’re all more or less on the same page. Although it’s funny. I never met anybody who had a really Boston-like Boston accent. And I’ve seen videos of JFK talking and I’m just like, what’s wrong with that guy? Did he have a stroke or something?