One morning, Jan and I were discussing what we were gonna do that day. She planned to do some gardening: planting and weeding. I thought for a while and said, "I'm just gonna piddle around the house." Jan stopped in her tracks and stuttered back at me, "P-p-ppiddle! What do you mean 'piddle'?" Puzzled at her confusion, I said, "Piddle. You know piddle around." Jan's turn, "You're gonna be 'pee-ing' around the house? That's what piddle means." "Huh!?" replied me. "No. no. I'm gonna do "this 'n that", nothing in particular." Chuckles all around.
To Jan, the Yankee, "piddle" meant to pee. To Donna, the Southerner, "piddle" meant to do nothing in particular, just this 'n that around the house.
To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw referring to the USA and England: We are separated by a common language.
When I was a little kid, I'd play hard and get really dirty. (I still do... play hard and get really dirty. Ask Jan.) I'd come in around dusk and my mother would inevitably say, "Donna Claire, get your butt in the tub right now and wash those Aunt Dinah's beads from 'round your neck!’ Ya know, the "dirt-ring"; Aunt Dinah's beads. What did your family call it?
As an adult, I really liked some of the songs of Hootie and the Blow Fish. Especially, I Only Wanna Be with You. But the name of the group - the "hootie" part - always reminded me of our family's name for "private parts", the ones in front. It was "hootie". Yep. It was. Again, my mother was given to say, "You better wash your hootie good!"
Other family colloquialisms included "toe cheese". It's not like cheddar or gouda. You'd never hear someone say, "Would you like that to cheese on Ritz crackers?"
When my mom would get irritated, angry, upset, she'd usually say, "Well, shit fire and save the matches!" I'd think to myself, "How would one do that? Hmmmm." I've never heard anyone else say that. Have you?
Saying "shit" was about as far mom's cussing'd go. Dad, on the other hand, is a pro. His curse words have a lot in common with some German words. Germans tend to string lots of words together to make a single word.
Even Mark Twain noticed when he said, "Some German words are so long, they have a perspective". An example is "freundschaftsbezeigungen". This word is German for "demonstrations of friendship". Try that on for size.
Dad does the same when cursing. An example is "goddamnsonofabitch" - always said in one breath as one word. Within the last ten years, dad's added more to his favorite curse word. He now says, "goddamnedmotherfuckingsonofabitch". My Dad's 90 years old and he can say anything he damn well pleases.
Dad also had other non-cussing phrases he'd repeat to his five kids - none of us ever knew what the phrases actually meant; we always knew their intent. "You know what thought did, don't you?" he'd say. No, we didn't. Never found out either.
Or, "Yeah,” dad would reply when we'd ask him to do or get something. "Sure you can do/have that... come Juvember." We'd think, "When the hell's Juvember?" We never found out, but knew his answer was "No".
I'm gonna go now and piddle around the house a little. Don't send me any Depends.
Have a good day, Miss Althea.