native transplants

When my oral surgeon asked how long I’d been in California I told him 10 years.

I have no idea if that’s true because living in paradise, we have no clocks, calendars or passage of time at all.

It’s almost always summer, 70 degrees and sunny.

Everyone stays young forever. Even if you are 117.

All women have perfect large breasts, flawless hair, clothing and cars most people in fly-over country can only dream about.

My surgeon told me, “Oh, I would have thought you were a native by the looks of you.

And that’s when I knew he was lying.

But I do feel like a native — at least I’ve got the dream car even if I lack the saline filled hacky-sacks and swanky wardrobe.

Back when I first moved to California about ten years ago…I asked someone how to get to the highway. Their eyes crossed and they had a seizure.

Correcting myself quickly I said, “I need to find THE 101, where is the on-ramp to the freeway?” But it was too late. The EMT guys were very handsome, if anyone wonders.

These things quickly became rote to me.

Well at least two things that I can remember and only because my out of town guests always mention these particular Los Angeles speech oddities.

Namely, the “highway vs the freeway” and even more obvious that it’s not “I went to Ralph’s,” it’s I went to “THE Ralph’s.”

Being a virtual California native at this point, I’m sure I’ve forgotten the rest — or are we just immune to awareness of our own California speak?

10 thoughts on “native transplants”

  1. >Namely, the “highway vs the freeway” and even more obvious
    >that it’s not “I went to Ralph’s,” it’s I went to “THE Ralph’s.”

    Personally, I’ve never noticed either of these. Particularly “I went to the Ralph’s.” I don’t know anybody that says that unless it’s in the context of “The Ralph’s by your house as opposed to the Ralph’s by mine.” Maybe we have micro-regional dialects and that’s what they say on the west side?

    There is one that I notice for sure, though, and that’s putting “the” before the freeway number. As in “Take the 101 to the 5.” I’d never heard that until I moved here.

  2. The weird thing about the definite-articles with freeways is that it isn’t done north of Santa Barbara. I got in more than one argument in college about why it was “Take the 101 to the 134” and not “take 880 to 580 to 80808080.”

  3. 5000! what makes you think I live on the west side?!

    Joz x 3 — I didn’t think it was flattering at all. Oh well, that’s nothing new.

  4. > 5000! what makes you think I live on the west side?!

    Ha ha. Sorry. I thought you had mentioned that somewhere in an earlier article. My bad!

  5. As a SoCal native spending some time in the Deep South I found that we say “license plate” for the steel panel attached to the bumper. In Mississippi & Arkansas they say, “car tag.”

    The guy at a repair shop in Biloxi asked me, “What’s your car tag?” And I replied, “What?” This went back and forth for a while – I thought he was asking for my car keys, drivers license, or VIN number (which, btw, is Vehicle Identification Number number.) It took a different Californian to tell me that he meant license plate.

  6. People have told me that I “talk California”, but since I always assert that they’re completely and utterly wrong I’ve never asked if it’s the way I sound, or the things I say. I was born in Los Angeles. The funny thing is, 5 years ago everyone I knew was born here too. Now, in my group of friends, I’m the only one. I don’t say “the Ralph’s.” Usually I just say “Ralph’s”, but lately I just grunt and mumble about the ridiculous prices I’ve been paying at Gelson’s, grr.

  7. I wonder if it’s the Hispanic influence making us say “the Ralphs.” My mom’s native Mexican and she always says “la Ralphs” and I say “the Ralphs.”

  8. Chicagoans supposedly say things like “I went to THE Ralph’s,” but I’ve never really noticed it.

    Perhaps it’s a more widespread lingustic phenomenon than just LA and Chicago.

  9. I just moved here, but thanks to my friend, I learned that Ralphs isn’t spelled with an apostrophe, because the last name of the guy who founded it was “Ralphs” with an S. At least, that’s what my friend said. SO you can say:
    I went to Ralphs.

    And that would be correct punctuationwise. I’m probably the only person who cares, but i figured i’d mention it.

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