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A collection of original essays and autobiographical anecdotes written by your one-and-only Problematic Fave, Tooky Kavanagh.

Corrupt

As some of you (or NONE of you!) may know, English is NOT my first language. I grew up speaking French.

My mom's side of the family is from the Caribbean, and, as is customary for most children in West Indian-American families, from birth until around age 4, I was raised abroad.

In case you're wondering, my dad, who is old and very American, was horrified, but this is actually common practice, and essentially a cultural norm. Oftentimes, when someone is pursuing work or higher education in the US (my mom was getting her master's degree at the time of my birth), extended family — grandparents, aunts — offer to care for their children.

Anyway, here's the interesting part. When I came to America, I did my best to assimilate, learn the language, and hide my accent. For countless hours I read Clifford the Dog books to practice sounding out my words and emulating the tone, word texture, and overall way of speaking of those around me.

Not long after I moved to the US I entered preschool. That same year, and before it cost a downpayment on a house and the soul of your first-born, my parents took me on vacation to Disneyland. On this trip I became fast friends with a little boy, about my age, who was from Oregon and whose name was Brian. Our parents thought it was the cutest thing and our families hung out together for the duration of our respective trips.

Fun fact: Brian was kind of an idiot and somehow fell in the water while our families were waiting in line right before boarding the submarine ride, so my dad jumped in and saved his life.

OK, back to my main point. One day, while our families were waiting in line to ride Splash Mountain, Brian kept telling his mom, "I gotta go potty! I gotta go potty!"
I was SO confused. I kept thinking to myself, "What PARTY?"

He ran to use the bathroom after we got off the ride, but it still didn't make sense to me.

And it wasn't until about 15 years later, while randomly recalling that trip, I realized that this WHOLE TIME, I had been learning English with a Boston accent.

I was absolutely livid to find out that not every American sounds like they're from Massachusetts, and that New Englanders corrupted the way I learned English!

Tooky Kavanagh