This weekend began as all weekends do when I work the closing shift on Saturday. I lay in bed with my eyes closed begging God to cause me to fall back to sleep until at least 7:00am. It’s the same begging I do when I am on vacation or visit my mom in L.A. This form of faithless prayer has yet to produce sleepiness in me, nevertheless, I always have to give it the ol’ college try. In the absence of falling back to sleep, I get up and get going, making my way to the greenway to enjoy a 5 mile walk along Stones River.
Last Saturday morning warmed up quickly and the chill was out of the air. The sun was shining through the trees illuminating my path. There is a wonderful sense of freedom that I experience when I am walking along the greenway. I grew up skating along the Strand at Hermosa Beach. I’d watch people play volleyball on the beach, surfers catch waves and people enjoying what the natural beauty offered. The greenway has become that place for me in Tennessee. It’s a place where the music in my ears is the accompanist to my thoughts. I never grow weary of the ever changing landscape. It’s a magical place that brings me joy, whether walking alone and sharing in the camaraderie amongst all who are out for their morning exercise or when I share that walk with a friend.
To leave such a beautiful place and head straight home to get ready for work is far too great of a culture shock. To bridge the gap, I usually make a pit stop for an iced tall soy no whip mocha and spend some time journaling. Time passes all too quickly and before I know it I’m in the car driving to work. Such was this past Saturday.
Walking across the parking lot, I started thinking about what to anticipate for the 8 hours of my shift, as if an hour on the greenway wasn’t enough time to think about that. Most Saturdays have steady traffic and some sales. That seemed to be a reasonable expectation. I also expected the sales team would be in hysterics at my expense at some point. Now, I realize that I couldn’t make a person laugh if I tried. I certainly am not a comedienne. However, I am the biggest nerd of the group. At this point in my life, there is no reason to try to conceal it. So, I flaunt it! This inevitably will leave someone at some point saying “Shayna, you are the WEIRDEST person I know!”
This Saturday seemed to be going according to my expectations. I wrote one ticket within the first 30 minutes I was on the floor; and not long after, my second customer of the day walked in. Here is where the story veers from a stereotypical Saturday into a new lesson in becoming a Southern girl… I can learn to speak like a native!
Mr. & Mrs. Newlyweds and I engaged in the “traditional” 30 minute conversation when I noticed her beautiful wedding ring. As we exchanged life stories (I apparently have mastered lesson one in becoming a Southern girl), I learned that what I thought was a Southern accent wasn’t that at all. In fact, people here speak Tennessee. That would be pronounced /tĕn’ • sē/. Tennessee is a dialect spoken only by the indigenous people. It, like all foreign languages, has specific rules that provide the structure that allows for communication. For someone who has an affinity for foreign languages, I became overwhelmed with excitement that even I could become fluent in Tennessee with just a 30 minute lesson!
I spent the better part of Saturday practicing my fluency and am now prepared to pass on my knowledge to you. Welcome to Tennessee 101. Students, please take out a pencil and a piece of paper. You’ll want to take notes. Today’s lecture will be the fundamentals of speaking Tennessee.
Rule #1 – All one syllable words have 2 syllables. Example: chair /chā • ār/
Rule #2 – All two syllable words have the accent on the first syllable. Example: pinhead /pĭn’ • hĕd/
Rule #3 – All three syllable words have two syllables. Example: syllable /sĭl’ • bŭl/
Rule #4 – There is no such thing as a “-ville”. It is a “-vul”. Example: Nashville /năsh’ • vŭl/
Thank you. Class is dismissed.