Let’s call the whole thing off…

I dread going into sandwich shops. Which is irritating. Normally I’m hungry, with a hungry family in tow. Trying to get everyone’s orders, worrying about parking and whether I’ll need cash or if my card will be ok,  which kids get to come in and which stay in the car and then suddenly I’m standing outside the door and a big sigh escapes me because *Damn. THIS again.* And I just want to turn around and go home empty handed which is irritating, as you see. I am hungry after all.

But I suck it up and push open the door and step inside. The scene that will unfold has its variations but it all boils down to the same thing. I will say “with a bit of lettuce and tomayto, please” and the world will stop turning, hell will freeze, someone will roll over in their grave. The person standing in front or behind me will turn and look at me as if I just shouted “BOLLOCKS!!!” at the top of my lungs. Or the person behind the counter will stare, open mouthed at me and ask me “with what?”. Or better yet he/she will decide to be the funny guy and say something like “You Americans- it’s tomahto! Say it! Say TOH-MAH-TO! huck-huck”.

I get it. It’s how they say it. I don’t hold it against them. But jesus. I always feel like I’ve said a dirty word or spit or something. To me it’s simply a case of “you say potayto, I said potahto” But I don’t think that particular ditty ever made its way to this side of the Atlantic.

I’ve been here three years- it’s not as if the local dialect hasn’t rubbed off on me. I say lots of British words, the British way. It’s funny though- to me only people trying to put on a bad English accent ever said “tomahto” and if I say it, it only sounds funny and fake.

And given all that, it is tiring. I want to say “Just give me my fucking sandwich, you tosser!” (See? The use of a purely British derogatory remark!) But, I don’t. I ignore the stares, repeat myself to the clueless person behind the counter, or laugh along with them and get sucked into a conversation about politics with a fake smile on my face.

“I say tomayto- you say tomahto

I say potayto- you say potahto



Let’s call the whole thing off.”

Learn it, Love it, Live it, people. It’s not that big a deal.

And give me some of that red stuff, too.


2 responses to this post.

  1. I think it’s interesting that us expats have different words that we are comfortable changing our pronunciation of and those we aren’t. I say ‘tomahto’ the British way without even thinking of it now but there are other words I just cannot change my pronunciation of because it just sounds ‘fake’ to me, like you said. Like water — I will never be able to say ‘wahter’ instead of wahder’, aluminium instead of aluminum or shed-zule instead of sked-jewel (schedule).


  2. Posted by ering1 on July 4, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Oh, shedule is another one. I used to correct Brits who said it “shed-zule” until I realized that that is actually how some of them are taught to pronounce it! “Haytch” irritates me no end, and some teachers actually teach kids to pronounce it like that! I went through one year of the teacher trying to break my daughter of the habit, only for the next years teacher to teach it like that! ARGH!

    Lately I find myself falling into the “gare-idge” pronunciation, but not entirely- so what usually comes out is “gare-strangling sound-adge”!

    But that “tomahto” thing really gets me- please just give me my sandwich!


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