I've started lapsing into an Australian accent whenever I'm feeling mildly self-conscious or awkward. You'll be delighted to hear that this isn't because my frontal lobe has sustained a traumatic injury; it's because my girlfriend does it. And now I've started doing it, too. Get us both together when we're having an off day and it's like you've wandered into an introspective self-help session in Woolloomooloo.
I started thinking about this – the way I pick up mannerisms and tics from other people – and it seems that I've got precious few movements and speech patterns that I can call my own. They all appear to be filched from friends and acquaintances, past and present. The realisation that my linguistic and gestural furniture has been hauled out of skips belonging to other people is slightly unsettling.
I do this forceful movement with my left hand with my fingers outstretched when I'm making a point, and I know I get this from Tim.
Thanks to Katy, I frequently find myself pronouncing "vegetables" with four carefully-enunciated syllables. When I put an object in a box I refer to the box as its "pants" because Steve once said "let's put its pants on" when putting a stroboscope into a box and it made me laugh.
I say "Hello caller" when answering the phone to friends, because Jenny does. I walk around with excellent posture thanks to Victoria, who, unbeknownst to her, inspired me to reform my shambling gait.
They don't even have to be attractive tics. Instead of goodbye I often say "be seeing you", because I copied Darren in 1992 and I'm still doing it, despite it being massively annoying. Paul does an elongated "um" accompanied by a laugh that makes it sound like a machine gun, and I've started doing that, too. I even picked up a nervous cough from Neil. A nervous cough! I never had one before, but I must have developed it because I thought it sounded good. As Rose would say, witheringly, "You're an idiot." (A phrase I picked up from her, obviously.)
And now, again, I can feel my personality gently morphing, as I take on my girlfriend's mannerisms – the explosive emphasis of the "t" in "great", the faux-sexy Billy Idol pout, and the Australian accent thing. Hooley-dooley. It's like I've got kangaroos loose in the top paddock.
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