Parsing A Trending Word, Thinking About My Dad

IF I OFFEND YOU, my gentle readers, by mentioning this charmingly old-fashioned word, please forgive me.  But you see, “pissant” was one of my father’s favorite words.

Dad’s been a long time gone from my life, so I’d forgotten about his use of this word.  However when I saw  “pissant” listed as Trending Now on the Merriam-Webster website, I immediately remembered Dad using the word.

OF COURSE WHEN DADDY, a physician, used the word “pissant” it didn’t stand alone.  Oh, no, no, no.  He’d further explain that the “pissant” in question was EITHER “in need of a high colonic” OR “in need of a frontal lobotomy.”

The first phrase, with the enema reference, was for those people who didn’t tell the truth– full of sh!t, ‘ya know?

The second phrase, the brain surgery reference, was for those people who were speaking illogically, making no sense– perhaps crazy.

DAD HAD A WAY WITH WORDS, I’ll give him that.  And because he was never one to not opine about events, people, &/or ideas–  many of his words have stuck with me in one way or another.

Don’t quite know what more to tell you here, my gentle readers.  Just a passing thought, from a blogging wordsmith who came by her love of words + writing early in life.

Listening to her elders [one in particular] go on & on about things. 🙄

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Do you ever hear a word and immediately think of someone who uses, or used, that word because the person and the word are inextricably linked together in your mind?

If so, what’s the word and who’s the person? If not, what prompts you to recall someone? Photos? Music? Food? Scent? 

~

How To Turn A Bully Into A Fool [Part 2 of 2]

[Part 1 of this childhood story is here.]

The next time Karl started hassling me was in class a few days later.

He sat a row in front of me and turned around to torment me, the quiet girl named Alice, by mocking my name in a sing-song fashion: “Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland.”

I was mad.

Following my father’s advice I turned to Karl and said loudly: “So who are you? The March Hare?”

As fate would have it, our teacher, Miss Thomas, a maiden lady [as they used to say to describe unmarried women over 50], was standing at the end of my row.

She was a known disciplinarian, seemingly devoid of whimsy.

However, my adult putdown of a kid who she knew was going to be trouble for years to come caught her off guard, and she burst out laughing.  At which point the rest of my class joined her in laughing at red-faced Karl, former bully turned class buffoon, thanks to a few well said words at the right time.

Thank you, Daddy.

From this experience I learned three valuable lessons that have stayed with me to this day:

  1. Words have power;
  2. If you can make people laugh, you can make a point;  and
  3. Bullies are weaklings who you can take down, one way or another, if you just apply yourself to making them look like fools in front of their peers.

~ ~ • ~ ~

~ ~ • ~ ~

How To Turn A Bully Into A Fool [Part 1 of 2]

Watching The Donald make an ass of himself while attempting to intimidate Hillary reminded me of this story from my childhood.

My father, a genius, did not suffer fools easily.

He had zero patience for stupidity combined with malice.  It’s from him that I learned how to shut down anyone who gets out of hand by flaunting his or her willful ignorance &/or bad manners in my face.

Be forewarned.

However, as a kid I was not naturally inclined to defend myself.  You see, I was a shy, bookish child with poor coordination, no siblings, and thick eyeglasses.

Bullies used me for target practice, because I was physically weak and because I was a girl and because of my legal first name.

In the first few weeks of kindergarten one bully, Karl, an oversized-oaf with pale blond hair and a need to be noticed [sound like anyone in particular?], started bugging me on the playground and in the classroom.

I was upset and didn’t know what to do.

When I told my mother, an introvert, about what was going on she gave me her general advice about people: “just ignore ’em.”  This, as you can imagine, was of no help to me in this situation.

Kindergarten is not the time for taking the high road.

So I turned to my father.

He listened to my problem then told me exactly what to do.  I didn’t understand what he wanted me to do, but I knew, even at a young age, that this guy had a way of dealing with people, so I did exactly what he said.

[Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.]

I Is For Ice Cream, I Do Believe

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 10.51.53 AM“I scream, You scream, We all scream for ice cream.”

This is what my Dad used to say, kind of like he was casting a spell, when we as a family would get in the car to go get ice cream cones at the local dairy.

This was big deal back then in my small town.

There were no stores open 24/7.  All we had were a few dairies in town, each featuring a rotating list of flavors, that sold ice cream cones, during limited hours of operation.

icecreamcone

I never knew why he said what he said.  But a fast googling tells me that this saying is part of the lyrics to a dreadful 1920s novelty song of the same name.  The stupid lyrics are whacked, making references to Alaska and Eskimos;  the irritating tune is a fox trot.

How he ever came to know this song I couldn’t say.  But like most of the food sayings I’ve talked about so far, they just get into your brain and never leave.

If We Were Having Coffee On This February Morning…

THE SETTING:  

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We’d be sitting in my kitchen at the table, staying warm, glancing outside at the bleak leafless trees that make you wonder if you’ll survive this time of year with your sanity intact.

We’d be drinking basic brewed coffee, with cream, and eating donuts because carbs are where it’s at when the world is this dull and gray.  

We’d be listening to the local university rock radio station because on Saturdays they play hits from the 60s & 70s & 80s– and it’s fun, once in a while, to groove on tunes from the past.

THE CONVERSATION:

√  We’d be sharing… our latest reading obsessions, which in my case would be 3 different books that I seem to read depending on which room I’m in.   My father did this and I realize I’m doing it now, too.  So, when I’m in the tv room I’m reading The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin.  In the living room I’m reading 1215, The Year of the Magna Carta by Danny Danziger & John Gillingham.  And in our bedroom I’m halfway through The Key by James N. Frey.  You’d assure me that this book-reading behavior isn’t as weird as it sounds.

√  We’d be discussing… how I find Cheryl Tiegs’s out-of-touch criticism of Ashley Graham’s size and look to be sad and spiteful.  I’d mention that I never thought CT had much on the ball, so I suppose she hasn’t noticed that the ideal body image of models has evolved and diversified since her days as a model.  I’d realize that I was being snarky, but conclude that sometimes it’s the only response to stupid.

√  We’d be laughing… about how this week, after months of effort, I got to Level 445 in Candy Crush Soda Saga, and how I believe I just might make it to the end of this game, which is Level 565.  You’d roll your eyes at me because whatever, but I’d still be proud of this achievement considering I’ve never come this close to finishing one of these silly games before.

√  We’d be talking… about how when Zen-Den went to buy paint for one of our bedrooms, he made me the happiest girl on the block when he bought me a brand-new slick and wonderful Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap Fan Deck that has in it, according to the SW sales clerk, 200 new shades of paint.  My little amateur interior designer heart is racing with the possibilities.

THE CONCLUSION:

IMG_0028We’d have to part after an hour or so of chit-chat because we each had obligations in the afternoon to get ready for. 

We’d hug and promise to get together sometime in the Spring, which for both of us is busy, then realize that maybe it’d be Summer before we do this again.

And we’d thank each other for listening to & laughing about our small victories and wacky ways.  Like friends do everywhere.  Often over a mug of coffee.

• • •

Idea for this post came from Diana at Part-Time Monster.

• • •

In Honor Of St. Paddy, A Story About Corned Beef & My Daddy

Here’s a memory from my childhood, which was in many ways more unusual than most.  😉

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 11.53.19 AMSt. Patrick’s Day reminds me of my father.

He loved this holiday, partly because of his Irish heritage and partly because of the whisky [and whiskey] that flows on this day.

Among the many things that I could tell you about him, I’ll start with the fact that he was a genius.  As in, GENIUS.  Scary smart.  Wickedly funny.  Strangely conservative.

Always up to something batty in his spare time.

He was a foodie long before that term existed, and being a physician he thought that he could make anything, no matter how obscure, if only he had a good recipe.

• • •

So one day when I was about 8 years, Dad decided to make Corned Beef.

He bought cookbooks & researched recipes.  He bought the perfect pickling spices from catalogues.  He bought many large 10 gallon stainless steel cans with lids.  He bought 7 or 8 different cuts of meat after talking with meat cutters about which ones would be best.  He bought gallons of premium vinegar.

Then he set about making Corned Beef.  Lots of it.

This required brining solution, boiled in huge pots on the stove top;  large containers in which to put the beef, with brining solution, as it pickled;  a cool place, like the basement, to leave the containers;  and the ability to turn the containers every so often so that the beef was evenly brined.

It was a mess to make.

• • •

During this activity, my mother and I watched. Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 11.51.42 AM

She was not thrilled with his latest excuse for spending money;  but I, on the other hand, found it fascinating to see what was going to happen next.  I had my doubts, but then again I’d seen this guy successfully do many a nutty thing, so I was rooting for him.

Well, as it turns out, when one is making Corned Beef from scratch one can determine if the brining process isn’t going well by using one’s nose.

That is, the meat begins to rot.

It fills a home, from bottom to top in our case, with a pungent carrion potpourri.  Easily distinguished from any other normal home scent, by anyone who is willing to admit that there’s a problem here.

• • •

But Daddy wasn’t immediately willing to admit defeat.  NO WAY.  For days he refused to say that anything was wrong, determined instead to make his project work through the magic of denial.

But he didn’t succeed.

Eventually, my mother convinced him that he had to throw out the rotting meat, and begrudgingly he did so.  Then he went to the grocery store to buy a piece of Corned Beef so that we might have it on St. Patrick’s Day.

Providing for us a holiday meal that could well be the most expensive one we ever had!

[Images from here.]

Keep It Simple. Eat A Banana.

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~ • ~

I awakened this morning with a charley horse in my right calf.  Not the smoothest way to start the day.  But one that got me thinking about a woman who I used to know who had some fascinating ideas about the nature of reality.

~ • ~

This woman who I’ll call K, was one of the nicest, calmest, most supportive human beings I’ve ever met.  She was a mother of 4, wife of a physician, lived in a charming older home that she filled with pets, overstuffed furniture & amazing meals.

K, who was born in the late 1940s and influenced by the 1960s hippie movement, was a nurturing person who grooved on Dr. Wayne Dyer and healing crystals.  And it was from this perspective that she viewed reality.

For instance, one of K’s beliefs was that when a person awoke with a pain in his or her body, the pain was a result of the sleeper’s body being used by some celestial force in a different plane of existence during the night.  This made sense to her and she shared this idea with anyone who’d listen to her.

~ • ~

Now I cannot conclusively say that K’s idea is totally wrong.  Who knows, eh?  But I can tell you, my gentle readers, that my father was a small town doctor who had slightly different take on charley horses in the middle of the night.

His simple, straight-to-the-point explanation of why a person had a charley horse was that said person wasn’t eating enough magnesium.  And to remedy this situation he’d just say: “Eat a banana.

~ • ~

And so it is as I sit here this morning typing this story that I find myself eating a banana– and reflecting upon the wonderful people who I’ve known in my life.  Some a little more based in my idea of reality, than others.