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Dear John: Love Her, Hate Her Rhode Island Accent

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


What’s your problem? Write to John at [email protected]

Dear John,

I’ve dated a woman a couple of times who has a lot of qualities that make her very attractive. She’s beautiful, extremely smart, kind, interesting, etc. We have a lot in common. But there’s one thing we don’t have in common that I am having a hard time overlooking: she has a very strong Rhode Island accent. I’m from the Midwest and I’ve only lived in this state for a couple of years. I love it here, but I have to admit, I find the local accent a little hard on the ears. (I used to think if you said anything with a British accent, it sounds smart. Now I think anything you say with a Rhode Island accent sounds dumb. Try it.) Anyway, what do you think is the likelihood this is something I will grow accustomed to…maybe even find charming eventually? It seems like such a small, petty thing, but I just can’t seem to get past it.

That R Isn’t Silent

Dear R,

If it bugs you now, it’s not going to bug you any less in a few months or a few years. Quite the contrary, these things usually become more irritating with time. (If you’re having a hard time with, “Whadja thinka that movie?”, wait until it becomes, “How many times do I hafta ask ya ta pick up ya socks??”) If you enjoy her company and these are just casual dates, then fine, but I see this as a major barrier to a serious, long-term relationship.


Dear John,

I am a woman in my mid-20s who works in a small office. I work with a guy who seems like a nice enough person, but he has a terrible habit of constantly glancing down to my chest while we speak. I don’t know if he’s even aware that he does it or if he realizes how rude it is. Other women in the office have had the same experience with him. It’s become hard for me to even concentrate on what he’s saying because I’m waiting for him to look down. Should I say something to him? But what on earth would I say?

Eye Contact, Please!

Dear Eye Contact,

First, I would minimize how much I talk to him to begin with, but it sounds like you have to engage with him in the course of your work. If it’s gotten to the point where you can’t just ignore his rude conversational style, perhaps you could try saying something unambiguous while still keeping a sense of humor about it. (I’m not minimizing what he’s doing, but since you both work in a small office, it would be to your advantage to find a way to make your point while keeping it light.) Perhaps something like, “You seem to grasp the importance of eye contact during conversation, but you seem a little unclear on exactly where the eyes are. They’re up here.”

Dear John,

Have you ever known anyone who wouldn’t let you agree with them in a conversation?? I have a friend who will complain about her husband, then, when I agree with her, she falls all over herself coming to his defense. Hello, I was agreeing with YOU! I didn’t bring him up! This happens all the time, and it’s starting to drive me a little crazy. Why would someone do this?


Dear Disagreeable,

She would do it because she’s talking to a friend who doesn’t quite get the difference between lending a sympathetic ear and piling on the man she loves. All your friend wants to hear is, “Aw, that’s too bad,” or, “Oh, no, so what did you do?” I guarantee she doesn’t want to hear, “What?!? What a jerk!” Just listen. You really don’t have to say much of anything.

John is a middle-aged family man from Providence. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at [email protected].


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