Monday, October 13, 2008

Growing up Green

Despite the fact that I have an English degree, I find myself using expressions that I’m not sure exist. I think it’s because I grew up Green. No, I don’t mean environmentally conscious, although we did dry our clothes on the line. I remember because taking them on and off was my chore, which I didn’t mind until a pop up thunderstorm came, which was practically every afternoon in Georgia. Then I had to run out with the basket and rip the clothes off the line as the thunder clapped, and the first big raindrops began to fall.

But I digress…No, Green is my maiden name, and there are times, usually when I’m tired or annoyed, when crazy words slip from my tongue. My husband has coined these “Greenisms.”

Growing up, if something unlucky happened such as the car breaking down, my dad proclaimed the whole lot of us “snakebit,” and, believe me, with the clunkers we drove, that happened a lot. Broken toys and things we no longer needed ended up in something called the “sump hole,” which I pictured as a big, black, gurgling hole of ooze. Later, I realized it was just the dump.

Whether you call these expressions Greenisms or Southernisms, they are a part of me. And there is no denying them. Recently, when we were on a trip, my husband asked if he could have a sip of my water.

“It’s from the spicket (or is it spigot?)” I replied, referring to the bottle I filled from the hotel sink.

Good heavens, I thought, horrified, could I sound any more country?

Later, someone ran into me on the crowded street, and roughly said, “Excuse me,” to which I promptly replied, “More to you!”

Where did that one come from?

Perhaps my favorite Southern expression is one I learned from a lawyer friend. She was in court in my hometown, standing in the large courtroom surrounded by walls adorned with portraits of great Southern men. The judge looked down at her and said, “Own yew.” She looked around, perplexed.

“I said, own yew!”

Finally it dawned on her, he was saying, “On you,” meaning it was her turn to deliberate. I’ve used this expression time and time again, especially when I'm in a disagreement and feel I've made my point. Try it sometime. Southern or not, you’d be surprised how often this one hits its mark.

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