Thursday, June 16, 2016

Sitting In The Barber's Chair, Gazing Wistfully Across The Cultural/Ethnic Divide

"Oh, yeah," says the gal cutting my hair, "my parents are the original Wops."

Me: (Reminding myself that it's okay for them to say this stuff): Is that right?

"Believe it. You know what a Wop is, don't you?"

. . . erm, ah . . . uh-heh-heh . . . 

"W.O.P. -- 'With Out Papers.' Both of 'em. Came over in the early '70s. Trudeau didn't give 'em a second glance. Trudeau senior, of course. Couldn't do that, today, I'll tell you. Left the old country so they could work here 'til they died."

They've passed on, then?

"No! That's what I'm saying! I'm always, like, 'Mom, Dad -- take a vacation already. Go see the family. When you're dead it's too late.' And they're like, 'Well somebody's gotta pay for the house.' Please. They've covered it three times already."

Sure, but what parent wants to take advice from their kid?

"I know, right? Like this paste I'm putting in your hair -- I'm forever telling the Guidos, 'Enough with the pomade, use this already!' You think they listen? Gotta stick with the pomade. 'My father's father used this stuff.' Honestly."

Now I'm wondering a) how did this girl, born and raised in Scarborough, Ontario, pick up a Jersey accent? and b) how I can parlay this delightful style of repartee to fit the Mennonite scene?

"Na, oh ba yo! The Mennos I come from -- but don't call them that to their faces, seriously, don't -- it's always, 'Pegs or buttons? Which is more prideful?' And never mind the zippers! Gr├╝lijch sagt, but what a bunch of schlengls and bengls! Erm, but just be careful you don't say that in front of them, of course."

Doesn't translate so well, alas.

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