Sunday, January 24, 2010

Concrete or Corn

To say that people talk funny where I come from would be an understatement.

We recently made the annual trek home for the holidays and should have taken along a translator to help the kids understand what Grandpa was saying.

Grandpa lives in the country, surrounded by corn, and he has a very country way of expressing himself.

Here are but a few things that confused my citified children:
When we first woke up Grandpa hollered, Y'up? Which meant "are you awake yet?"

Then Grandpa went outside and told someone to turn on the spigot. Neither of my kids knew what a spigot was, and Grandpa mumbled something about damn city folks beneath his breath.

Grandpa pretty much says whatever is on his mind. Pretty much meaning 'often or a little.' Also used in other variations such as pretty far, pretty close, and pretty well - a term that comes up pretty much in every single sentence.

A derivative of pretty much would be pert near, meaning 'pretty close or almost. My daughter asked Grandpa, are we done yet? and Grandpa responded, Purtnear. She literally had no idea what Grandpa was saying and had to come to me for translation.

Some words were easier to decipher than others. Such as up-air meaning "up there" and the commonly used fixin' meaning 'preparing to' as in "fixin' to go to the store." Grandpa is always fixin' to do something.

Also, there's the ever popular all-be, shoot far, and reckon.

And one cannot forget plumb, because by the time we left, Grandpa was plumb tuckered out.

Sometimes we even had to translate actual items found in Grandpa's kitchen such as butter and pepper. My daughter was staring into the fridge searching for butter when Grandpa hollered, "It's in that big brown tub right in front of your face." My daughter, accustomed to the real stuff in sticks, had never seen Country Crock before and was unaware, ironically, that this was the country equivalent of actual butter.

My son, wanting to pepper his eggs, searched high and low for a pepper mill, until finally Grandpa explained to him that pepper doesn't come in mills, it's in those little red and white tin cans.

Sugar is a staple in the country.
We had biscuits with honey, sugar beets, sweet pickles, brown sugar ham, sweet tater casserole with marshmallows on top, sweet corn, sweet tea, and gooey desserts. After one meal, my nieces and nephews were bouncing off the walls on a sugar high that lasted until midnight. My poor kids, unaccustomed to such large quantities of sugar, were hanging in the best they could: delirious, incoherent, heads bobbing, eyes rolling back into their heads, it was a diabetic coma the likes they had never seen.

After supper we took a walk down by the crick, which meant creek or small stream in Grandpa's neck of the woods.

After a long weekend of eating, playing, and eating some more, Grandpa's arthritis was 'spurrin' up, so we decided to leave and get an early start since the next morning it was fixin' to snow. Grandpa said, Y'all come again. Y'all being singular for 'you all.' All y'all, plural. And All y'all's, plural possessive. I won't even get into Yers and Yuins.

It was pert near dark by the time we arrived home. The city emanated a soft glow as we purred along the Interstate and slipped back into the familiar rhythm of urban life. I called Grandpa to thank him for the good time and invited him to our home in the big city soon. But something tells me he won't come. Grandpa is a Country Mouse. It's hard for him to acclimate.

If Grandpa does decide to visit, I will make him my version of a country meal: grilled Berkshire pork chops; fresh corn sauteed with zuchinni, onion, garlic and red peppers; roasted garlic mashed potatoes served with a big glass of unsweetened iced tea. It puts a whole new meaning to the phrase, "Hey Grandpa, what's for supper?"


Linda said...

So funny! :D And so familiar to me, since my Mom's family is all from deep southern Illinois, which might as well be the deep south - for many generations, all coal miners and farmers.

Though I must confess - I use "pretty" in the context that you mentioned a lot. Guess I must have picked up some of those terms from my Mom, since I never actually lived in the country - until now. We live right 'smack dab' (there's something for you) in the middle of Illinois farmland. If it weren't for the University town where I work, there wouldn't be much of anything here, other than corn and soybeans.

Hope you're having a great week,
Linda :)

d ogo said...

very cool


Proud Italian Cook said...

I love the way you write, you make all the characters come alive, and I love that plate of food!

lisa said...

LOL....we live in Vermont, where the spoken vernacular is "pretty much" the same....I understood EVERY word of it!