When Aaron and I started dating, I had fun discovering some of his unique, West Virginia style pronunciations. We laughed most together about the way he said, “color.” He pronounced it the way most Americans say, “collar.” We joked about the difficulties of being “collar-blind,” as in, “I can’t tell if you’re wearing a turtleneck or a polo; I’m collar-blind.” Though almost a decade in the Midwest has standardized Aaron’s pronunciation of “color,” we still giggle when we think about collar-blindness.
Aaron’s mom, Carolyn, has lived all but a couple years of her life in West Virginia. She has an endearing accent, and I enjoy listening to catch all the variations. One of my favorites is any word ending in the letters, “ush,” which she pronounces, “oosh.” So “push” is “poosh,” and “bush” is “boosh.” That last particularly tickles me when Carolyn has talked politics over the last several years; I get a kick out of hearing her say the name of President “Boosh.”
During our Christmas visit to West Virginia, I helped Carolyn do some last-minute shopping for one of Aaron’s three sisters, Laurie. Aaron’s younger sister, Rachel, was with us, too. Laurie had requested V-neck shirts in jewel tones, so Carolyn, Rachel and I browsed through a department store in search of the right kind of tops. I pointed out some bright button-up blouses to Rachel, thinking that leaving the top few buttons undone would create a V neckline. Rachel commented that she didn’t think Laurie liked collared tops, since she had advised Aaron’s oldest sister, Esther, not to wear polo shirts. I made a mental note and wandered over to see if Carolyn had found anything. When I reached her, she gestured towards a rack of vibrant blouses.
“What do you think of these?” she asked.
“Well,” I replied, “they are pretty, but Rachel told me that Laurie doesn’t like collars.”
Carolyn turned and spoke vehemently. “Yes, she does! She asked for jewel tones!”
I blinked, startled at the non sequitur. Then it clicked. Gesturing with my hands as if grabbing imaginary lapels, I said, “No, collars. She doesn’t like collars.”