July 8, 2008

John Oliver Hodges


The downtown tellers are Filipino, not Tlingit
from forty to fifty-ish with pitted
faces and lipstick, a dash of mascara. They
know me. I’m the white guy who
strangely, when he speaks to them, speaks in
a Filipino accent. It’s what I do
wherever I go, speak in the accent of the person
I’m speaking to. I speak black people
of the south, Indian, and Igloo, Chinese, African,
redneck and of Spain. I take my coffee
dark and light, can I help that I’m cosmopolite?
I’m downright insufferable, says my
wife. I pain her when we’re together, but I
can’t help it. I’m a man of the
world, a linguistic magician who at the bank today
was called upon to make a decision.
The tellers were freed up at exactly the same
time, you see, and I was the only
one waiting. They looked at me, both smiling, and
I looked at them, one to the other,
and it was an awkward moment. I did not want
to privilege one over the other, didn’t
want to hurt a woman’s feelings, but I stepped
over to the teller on the right. “I would
like to make a deposit,” I said, and slid her my pay
check, six hundred and four dollars and
fourteen cents for two weeks of teaching college
English. I’m not the richest man, but I
make up for it in other ways, cook my wife bacon
and buy her mayonnaise, a wonderful
combination, like mustard on Swizz cheese. But the
teller on the right was different today, how
Continue reading

Rattle Logo