Ladies love men with accents. It’s a cliché, one so grounded in reality that a dating website called iloveyouraccent.com actually exists. Anyone who has read my dramatic Safa Boy Saga (and if you haven’t I really recommend it, it’s the most shocking my blog has ever been) knows my fondness for foreign fellas. When a new guy showed up at my interactive theatre job, a new British guy, it was inevitable. Before the week was up I found myself sitting next to him at a pub, sharing a pint. Did I throw myself at him? Quite. I giggled at his cheeky sense of humor, asked him about horrible clichés (“what’s up with fish and chips?”), and sat enamored by every dulcet word escaping his lips.
Where do the origins of my admiration of British blokes lie? Two theories:
1. The height of Hugh Grant and Collin Firth fame coincided with my adolescence
2. Watching “Help” and age 12 and being smitten by the timeless charm of “The Beatles”
I have never set foot on British soil. The closest I ever got was a layover in Heathrow Airport. I have certainly pretended to be on British soil a silly number of times, what with several plays and summers working at a Renaissance fair. My British accent is quite convincing, I’ve fooled scores of non-natives. Given all this, the fact I was drinking Stellas with a man who was born and raised in Britannia was exciting enough. That he had forsaken his homeland for my homeland was intriguing.
Brits have a significant American advantage as foreigners go: there is little language barrier. I’m familiar enough to know if a Brit says he wants to “bum a fag” he’s looking for a cigarette, not being a homophobic douche. That was just an example, my Brit doesn’t actually smoke. I beg him to tell me what other words differ across the pond. “Fanny” I already knew thanks to the film Billy Elliot (a tamer word for “butt” vs. a slang term for “vagina”). “Pants” mean underpants, very different from “trousers”. “Tellie” is actually said for “television” and a “biscuit” is a cookie.
Then the Brit opens a wardrobe of Narnia proportions:
“Are you familiar with CRS?”
“No…I know RSC, Royal Shakespeare Company. Is CRS the dyslexic version?”
“No, not quite,” he laughs, “It’s Cockney Rhyming Slang.”
Cockney Rhyming Slang is intense. There are all sorts of fun theories as to its origin- was it developed as a game or made to befuddle outsiders? What’s for sure is that if you are unfamiliar, it makes absolutely no sense. It is not an easily cracked code. Or “a la mode” as you’d say in CRS.
Let me try to explain.
CRS most often takes a phrase of two things, rhymes one of the words with the word you normally use, then cuts off the rhyming word so what your left with seems completely unrelated. That made no sense? It’s impossible to understand without an example. So here is the common example: Say you’re going up the stairs. “Stairs” rhymes with “apples and pears”. Now subtract the rhyming word, you’re left with “apples”. So instead of “going up the stairs” you’d say “going up the apples”.
You want a beer, you order a “Britney”. “Britney Spears” rhymes with “beers”. You lost your phone, you’ve lost your dog, “dog and bone”. You got hit in the head, it’s a blow to your “loaf”. “Loaf of bread” rhymes with “head”.
I love it. I am horrible at learning new languages. I struggled with basic French in high school and again in college. I am abysmally mono-lingual. But Cockney Rhyming Slang, I could learn that! Okay, so it’s not actually a different language. Also, a large part of my motivation comes from the fact the person who taught it to me is an attractive man…But still! It is based on wit and cleverness! It’s perfect for me!
The day after my date I faced the all too common dilemma: I want to text him, but is it too soon? Yes. But maybe just one text to say I had a nice time and thank him for the drinks? I mean, that is polite. Right? Then it hit me- the absolute perfect text. One so fitting, cute and clever I beamed with joy as I hit send:
My attempt at CRS: Sending machine guns, I had a rats lemon last night.
Was it too subtle? I wondered. No, I thought to myself, He’s smart and clever, he could easily get it. And even if he doesn’t, he’s guaranteed to text me back. He did text me back almost immediately, unable to figure out my first Rhyming Slang attempt! I confess I was a bit disappointed. What about you dear reader? Can you figure out the slang, and see what was actually a very simple text?
“Machine guns and tanks” rhymes with thanks. “Rats and mice” rhymes with nice. “Lemon and lime” rhymes with time.
Sending thanks, I had a nice time last night.
Clever or ridiculous? Cheeky or trying way too hard? A second date did come of this; is Cockney Rhyming Slang to thank, or did I snag the date despite my overzealous attempts? Can I go to England just so I can utilize witty rhymes in all my pick up lines? Hairy Knees? (Please?)