Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Things I don't understand #50...

...Why no one talks like my grandfather anymore. (Well, except for my grandfather...and you know, all those like him.)

I could've spent this post celebrating the amazing feat of making it to 50 things, but I won't (you should, but I won't). Instead, I thought I'd reminisce about the sounds of my youth and home. Even though I've removed almost every verbal indicator that I originated not only from Texas(I still use y'all and howdy, but that's about it), but small town Texas (Gainesville by way of Paducah), I still enjoy going home and listening to certain family members talk. And sometimes I just miss hearing the vernacular of my rural upbringing. I think that may be partly do to the fact that I live in the "big city"(Dallas) and find myself constantly surrounded by city slickers, Yankees, or a combo of the two. Conversely, my grandfather(or Pappaw as some might call him) arrived in Texas as a small child in a covered wagon(and yes, he's one of those grandfathers who's nice to pretty much everyone and can fix pretty much anything).

Despite the fact that we were related, all throughout my childhood and youth it seemed I was always being confronted with the notion that we just talked differently. At times it lead to down right confusion. The first one I really remember is the word "battries". Yes, I know it's not a word. But my grandfather used it all the time. Everything probably just needed new "battries". I was sure I was supposed to know what these were. My only hunch was that he meant batteries, but he was definitely not saying that. I finally got up the nerve to ask my mom, at which point she laughed and confirmed they were, indeed, batteries. I think that only cost me about two years of tension.

Another point of confusion cropped up much later. I worked with my grandfather on a couple of summers off during college. This was also when I discovered my Pappaw liked to talk a lot more when Mammaw(my grandmother) wasn't around, but let's try to keep that between us. Anyway, as he would regale me with tales during our lunch hour, there seemed to be many occasions where someone needed to or should be trying to "get shut of" something. I think it took me approximately one month to first get through the southern twang to verify the words of this phrase and then figure out what it meant. What? Oh, it means to rid yourself of that particular item. But you have no idea how often I sat there repeating(or trying to repeat) that phrase over and over to myself trying to crack the code. It was a great day and quite a relief when I finally did "get shut of" that confoundedness.

Just in case you want to feed my nostalgia(maybe in celebration of 50 affiliated posts? I don't know) I thought I'd give you a list of some other words and phrases that I used to hear quite often, but now hardly ever hear (unless I'm trying to be funny or ironic). I'll also try to give a definition or maybe an example in case you're a Yankee so confused by my southern ways.
"Betcha a coke" - I was always confused about why we had to bet a coke to settle a disagreement(and no, coke should not be capitalized, because that meant any soft drink)

Directly - with out delay. Ex. "He found out his wife was home waitin' on him and got out of there directly."

Ornery - stubborn with a touch grouchiness. Ex. "I tried to get Jason whatever he wanted to eat, but he was mad and got ornery and down right refused to touch his food."

Piddlin'- doing nothing in particular, wasting time. Ex. "I told him to have the yard done by the time I got back; but when I did, he was just out there roaming around picking up rocks...just piddlin."

Plumb - completely. Ex. "I meant to bring you the tickets, but I plumb forgot."

Reckon - guess, figure, estimate. Ex. "When I left he wasn't there, I reckon he'll make it home o.k."

Everwhichway - in any or all directions or methods. Ex. "That firecracker went off behind him, and he went everwhichway at once."

Gully washer - extended storm or downpour. Ex. "The weatherman said it wouldn't rain, but instead it came a gully washer."

Light out - move quickly, leave with haste. Ex. "That tomcat heard that dog bark and he lit out of there like he was on fire."

Now if I just had some cream gravy...

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