Statements of Confusion


I never have considered myself to be one of the sharpest knives in the set, but the elevator does go to the top floor as far as I know and I am dealing with a full deck.

In my life, I have heard my share of colloquial phrases. Some are very common. Others, not so much. And some are downright rare if you can call them that.

The first one happened when I was probably about 5 or 6 years old. My best friend's mother was taking us into town and I was sitting in the back seat of her 1950s era car. It had big winged fins on the back with circular, red tail lights that stuck out like bugged eyes. I must have been doing something to really annoy her, which I find hard to believe, I am sure I was such an angel child (sarcasm, in case you do not know me). I remember her turning around to me (I was in the back seat), wagging her finger and saying, "Mark Albertin, if you don't straighten up I am going to crown you!" I remember, after a moment of silence, asking her what she meant. I could almost see the waves of heat rising from her head. We'll end that story here.

The second time was many years later. I was a teenager and at that point in my life when all parents or people who were beyond a certain age, were stupid. Plain and simple. They were just dumb compared to my wise generation. My job at the time was working at a nearby farm. For most of the day, I had been mowing and painting in the hot summer sun. As I drove home, playing my music loudly within my 1967 Chevy, I was thinking about all the fun I'd have swimming with my friends that afternoon/evening. My dad was on the John Deere tractor as I pulled up to the house. "Oh, glad you are home. The lawn is waiting on you!" he said. I couldn't believe it! I had been killing myself all day working so I could make money to pay for my car, insurance, beer, and whatever else and my dad had the nerve to ask me to do more! Well!!! I wined to my father and he looked at me and said, "Who do you think you are...a star boarder?" A dumbfounded look covered my face. "What the heck was he talking about? Do I get a star by my name?" Like the incident with my friend's mother earlier in my life, this didn't go well either. I realized later that living at my parent's home was not free and I, like the rest of my siblings had work to do, regardless of our extracurricular activities.

The third time was just after I moved south and was living in Atlanta. My co-worker, Randy, was a true southerner. He had been raised in the country, north of Atlanta during the 1950s and hence, had all kinds of phrases that caught me off guard. The first time was while we were scarfing down chili dogs and orange frosty's from the Varsity. Randy turned to me and said, "Well Mark, this makes me want to slap my granny!" He had a goofy look on his face and a big smile. "What the hell?" I thought to myself. Why in the world would you ever slap your poor granny? That is just not right. And if something is good, which is what I took this to mean, then why not hug her? But, slap her? Randy never failed and always surprised me with a laugh. He was a very sweet and kind man who became a great friend to this transplant from Wisconsin. He certainly confused me many times. There was another phrase he used which always made me laugh. One time, someone brought in some kind of homemade casserole for our lunch at work. It was a generous and very kind gesture, but things did not smell too good and the overall appearance was even worse. Randy put one spoonful into his mouth and a look of disgust came over his face, "oh Lord, that is like cat hair in buttermilk!" Just the thought of drinking a glass of buttermilk and finding a cat hair dangling around your tongue made me cringe. I understood this one right away. Yuck!

These phrases, even though they perplexed me at the time, have lasted in my memory for decades. Was their delivery simply made out of habit or to confuse? Was it a way to get attention or a way to burn into my memory? Whatever the purpose, it worked! I'll remember them till the cows come home.

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