Personal

Family Lingo

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In keeping with this week’s theme on words

…a few months ago, I wrote about going “Crafty Stitches,” which is the most recent addition to an ever-growing list of family dialect. Phrases that are nonsensical to anyone living beyond the farm’s boundaries, but laden with meaning among our crew.

Many of these terms evolve spontaneously, spurred by a single incident, but they take hold and cling to our family vocabulary.

Like what, you ask? Well, here are just a few:

 

 

Term: Purple Karate Belt

Definition: A lie, specifically a statement that one wishes to be true

Origin: When fetching the kids from camp a couple years ago, the counselors expressed admiration for young Hadley’s prowess in karate, specifically, reaching purple belt status. I clarified that she’d never tried karate, much less earned a belt of any color. Hadley later admitted that she told this tall tale because she really wanted a karate belt, and purple was her favorite color.

Sample of use: “Brynn, you’re telling me that your friend rides her pony to school everyday? Really? That sounds like a purple karate belt to me…”

 

Term: Going Crafty Stitches

Definition: Overly agitated; borderline irrational

Origin: Hadley’s sewing shop moved locations while Brynn was hospitalized. I assumed the store had closed and I wanted to harm the sewing store staff.

For example: See this blog post

Term: Donkey Traffic

Meaning: Traffic due to high volume, unrelated to an accident or an obvious delay

Origin: The local afternoon rush often causes a back-up at the stop sign in town; years ago, donkeys lived in a pasture along this section of road and we always got a good look at them as we inched along. Now it applies to heavy traffic anywhere.

For example: “Sorry I’m late. I was nearly home when I hit some donkey traffic.”

Term: Go Count Cows

Meaning: Go away, take a hike, leave me alone

Origin: When the kids were driving us nuts, Martin and I would tell them to walk up the driveway — at least as far as the neighbor’s field, which is often stocked with cattle or dry dairy cows. To this day, the term is used literally.

For example: “I have a work related call to make and you guys are way too loud. All three of you: go count cows.”

Term: Frogging

Definition: Farting

Origin: Big John, this is all you. Several years ago, the aforementioned let one go and told the kids that a frog was responsible for the sound.

For example: Do you really need an example?

Caveat: We have barn cat named Frog, and I have a friend nicknamed “Froggy.” Neither Frog nor Froggy are associated with the above reference.

So, there you have it. If you have a problem — I don’t care if you get stuck in donkey traffic — you better go count cows.  I don’t want to hear any purple karate belts about frogging. I’ve had enough today. Don’t make me go Crafty Stitches.

A few words about words

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Last week at softball, I was chilling out — sitting on the ground — and one of my teammates remarked that he can’t sit “Indian style” anymore, due to bad knees.

I felt obliged to tell him: “You don’t have kids, so you don’t know this, but sitting like this is now called ‘criss-cross apple sauce.'” He looked bewildered by this statement; I rolled my eyes in response.

Of all the new iterations and terms scrubbed clean of race, creed or culture, this one is the most perplexing. What is offensive about sitting Indian style? I understand why phrases with negative connotations, such as “Indian giver,” have faded away. But there’s nothing disparaging about sitting cross-legged on the ground.

And who played Dictionary God and replaced the term with criss-cross applesauce? What the hell does applesauce have to do with the way a person sits?

I cracked open my laptop and clacked away. Some internet digging unearthed a few nursery rhymes which refer to pureed apples, including:

Criss-cross, applesauce

Spiders crawling up your back

Spiders here, spiders there

Spiders even in your hair

Cool breeze, tight squeeze

Now you’ve got the shivers

I also found this one:

Criss-cross, applesauce, no one else can play with us. If they do, we’ll take our shoe and beat them ’til they’re black and blue… criss-cross applesauce.

Boy, that last one is catchy and it certainly gets the message across…

Anyway, at some ill-defined moment in the last 20 years, teachers taught kids, “Criss-cross, applesauce, give your hands a clap. Criss-cross applesauce, cross them in your lap.”

And with that, “Indian style” was quietly retired.

As for that term, its origins are murky. While it sounds like an obvious reference to the way Native American Indians sat on the ground, some challenge this theory. They believe its roots are British, and relate to people of India, seated in the lotus position.

Who knows? What is clear is that it’s no longer part of the classroom vernacular.

I mentioned this to Martin and he said, “By that rationale, that’s the end of the song, ‘Walk Like An Egyptian.'”

I looked that up, too. Apparently, the writer of this 80s hit composed the lyrics after watching people walk awkwardly to keep their balance on a pitching ferry, which reminded him of ancient Egyptian figures.

I told Martin that he can listen to “Walk Like An Egyptian” until someone releases a PC version entitled, “Walk like a person from the ancient kingdom in North East Africa, as they are depicted in hieroglyphics.” Or maybe a re-release related to the impetus of the song: “Walk like an off-balanced individual aboard a boat.”

Both of those choices… really suck.

They make me want to take my shoe, and beat someone black and blue.

Worn-out old work boots, isolated on white.

Hodophilia

 

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If “hodophobia” is the is the fear of traveling, then I suffer from “hodophilia” — a strong desire to hit the road.

Really, it’s a disorder and I blame my parents (always good to blame them for everything). They planted the seed, by dragging me on their jaunts through Eastern Bloc countries in 1970s. We’d fly on a dodgy, patched-up plane, owned by a now-defunct charter company, and that thing would cough and sputter across the Atlantic, before depositing us in a Western European city. Then my parents would rent a tin can on wheels, and we’d wade into various Communist countries where vacationing Americans were a rare species.

I took the hook. Now I’m afflicted with traveler’s itch: I believe that passports shouldn’t nest in drawers. They should be cracked open and stamped violently by a passport control officer who barks, “reason for your visit!?”

Which isn’t how they behave in Ireland.

My passport was supposed to ride the pine for a year. But I caved 3 weeks ago and Martin caught me in the act… making a call to an airline customer service agent. I tried to disguise the conversation with airport code — “Yes, I’m calling about EWR to SNN, for 4, departure Feb 19…”

Martin wasn’t amused but he knows my track record. I’ve bolted twice to Ireland in February. It’s just this time, I was sneaky and last-minute. I hastily stocked-up on provisions (this year’s requests from overseas: tuna fish, Heinz relish and bras). And I crammed a couple of suitcases full of clothes, collected the kids’ freshly minted passports and off we went.

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So here we are in Eire, letting me get my travel fix — to smell Ireland, taste it, and see it again. And all the while, I’m planting the seed for the next generation of hodophiles.

They are already on their way.

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