Wifey’s from Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. My college roomie and long time business partner is from Wausau, WI, married to a biomedical engineer and patent lawyer who was also a good college friend, hailing from Sault Saint Marie, MI. Another college roomie, the first guy I ever heard ranting against the Electoral College when Clinton won in ‘92, was from Menomonee. A manager I’ve worked closely with at Sun Microsystems is from Shano, WI (draw that “o” out, will ya?).
Wifey cold kicked the Great Lakes accent ages ago, but as for any one of the others, all it takes is enough Blatz beer or something else similarly awful and they kick into that fascinating intonation, kinda like if you cross-bred a Norwegian and a Scot with someone born within fifty furlongs of the Mason-Dixon line, then stuffed the chimera’s voice into a deep well.
I’ve certainly never minded the accent, considering all these people, and many more from my college days in Milwaukee are very intelligent and eminently sensible, even the occasional punter who looked earnestly into my eyes to say “you know, you’re the only black person whom I’ve ever had a proper conversation with.” I’m down with being the Olaudah Equiano of parts nort’ don’t ya know-oh.
So then a few months ago Sarah Palin came along and scrambled all the associations I had with that accent (my first reaction was: What’s with the patter? Isn’t she supposed to be from Alaska?) Spouting a bewildering medley of sense, silliness, and savagery, she’s been good for laughs as well as fury. I’m reasonably confident that after today she’ll begin coasting towards Trivial Pursuit 2050 edition, so here, in honor of everyone who got a shout-out in my first paragraph, is a Palin send-off. (more…)