The Mom-isms of Mystery


"We're off like a herd of turtles!" I exclaimed to my two buds in the car.

They stopped in mid-seat-buckle and exchanged a glance. "Say what?!"

And I realized I'd done it. A full-blown, full-fledged Mom-ism-- one of those bizarre things my mother would habitually say to me under the very same circumstances.

And hearing it come out of my own mouth... well, the terror was palpable.

Which got me thinking about all the other things my parents would say every time a certain occasion would come up. Some parental knee-jerk answer to communicating.

And how these quips and quotes and half-proverbs are now ingrained in my brain, ready at a moment's notice to leap out of the shadows and from behind Life's shrubberies like some trench-coated pervert...

Unexpected... unwanted... unwarranted... and unfortunately, wholly void of pants.

Like, say, someone tells you their hand or nose itches. That is the perfect moment to proclaim, "Come into money, or kiss a fool!"

Now, I can't recall ever receiving the big bucks, or getting smooched up by, say, Pauly Shore following an itchy palm or an allergy attack. But the phrase sure lingers.

Okay, here's another one. Say someone tells you they've had to do a lot of different, unrelated jobs at work during the week. Do you ask how it's going? Do you offer helpful hints from your own career experiences? Do you listen to their tale with a sympathetic ear?

NO! You say, "Ah! Chief cook and bottlewasher!"

Let me tell you, that pretty much puts an end to any added discussion right away.

Next-- say your friend sitting across from you in a crowded coffeeshop mentions they think they're being stared at. The appropriate response here? "Always lookin' at ya, never stops!"

WHAT this phrase was even from-- a TV commercial? An episode of "Laugh-In"? A film?-- appears to be lost to time. (Or really, really buried in Google.) But it has become another Mom-ism of Mystery.

My father, on the other hand, leans more toward the creative license with words and music. If you fill up your car's gas/petrol tank, you are filling it with "gasolino." If you have allergies? The little pill that you take? That's an "antihistamino"...

Why these words have become either faux Spanish or Italian, when the Pop's side of the family is peopled with Swedes, I simply cannot say.

But this charming trait now haunts the next generation.

Lastly, I'd mentioned how the Pop likes to make merry with the music, changing the lyrics to some well-known songs to give them that special, added zing. (Read: embarrasses the hell out of you when you're a teenager.)

The real problem with this is, I've heard these songs incorrectly since I was a child, with no idea that my father-- the authority figure who I was supposed to trust to guide me in the important things in life like good decision-making and, y'know, song lyrics-- all this time has been taking liberties with lines of Gershwin. So things like the classic tune "Summertime" have become:

"Summertime, and the living is easy
Fish are jumping
And the cattle are high."

Perhaps Porgy and Bess found a more lucrative crop than cotton. No other explanation, really.

So I'm curious, folks-- is it just my incredibly strange family, or as an adult have you found yourself spewing out the little catch phrases, Fortune cookie wisdom and other mumbo-jumbo passed down to you courtesy of your parents?

Well, gotta go-- Time waits for no marmot!

(Okay, that's not really a Momism, I made that one up. But, who knows? Maybe it'll catch on.)

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19 comments:

DeadRooster said...

Stephen King wrote about how his mother's oaths often find their way into his writing. Apparently she was quite the character and a lot of it rubbed off on him. As she put it: "Milk always takes on the flavor of whatever it's next to in the refrigerator."

Jenn Thorson said...

DeadRooster- Well, good, then, maybe if I channel this into my writing enough, I won't find myself want to shout these various platitudes. :)

And PS-- ol' Steve's mom was right about the milk. :)

Jonny's Mommy said...

You know I'd tell you that you are weird, but then that would be like the pot calling the kettle black, ya' know?

Where's the humor-blog thing?

Oh there it is!

If it had been a snake it would have bit me.

*sigh*

Anyhow, I never throw those catch phrases out. Ever. Really.

Jenn Thorson said...

Jonny's Mommy- Good to know that you're taking the road less traveled...

That just because other people jump off a bridge, you don't feel you have to do it, too...

:) I'm as pleased as pig in mud that you stopped by.

Da Old Man said...

I've done my best to repress all my childhood memories, but occasionally a Mom or Dadism will creep into my conversation, and I'll wonder where the heck that came from. And, like you explained, they just pop up.

Tiggy said...

My Dad used to do that 'faux Spanish' -io at the ends of words, especially when he was talking to the dog and trying to make his daughters laugh. Our dog seemed to like it too.

Jenn Thorson said...

Da Old Man- They can't be stopped. Those Mom and Dadisms wait for the right moment. A lot like Jaws. And then...

CHOMP! Gotcha!

Jenn Thorson said...

Tiggy- So the faux Spanish is really a Dad-thing... Interesting! And more interesting is that dogs speak faux-Spanish. Is your dog a Basque Shepherd, by any chance?

chyna said...

How about languages you have no idea of they mean.

Ish Kabibble. No idea what it really means but to my honorary great-uncle/aunt it meant ick/disagreeable. The woman was constantly trying to teach me some language and to this day I still can't recite it. All I know is that it is about a son and father out for a horse ride and the kid falls off and goes "boom". I think she was trying to teach me Latin! Darn retired teachers.

Can't really think of anything in particular my parents said except my dad's all time fave of "kick a lung outta ya". Nice huh?

Jenn Thorson said...

Chyna- AH! "Ish Kabibble"-- my mom used that as an exclamation of surprise/dismay. I haven't thought of that in years!

"Kick a lung outta ya" one of those great parent phrases that a kid goes to school and says, and then wonders why he/she suddenly has detention. "Well, DAD says it all the time!" :)

Greg said...

Good morning, Sunshine! (yep, those Mom-isms pop up when you least expect them...)

As for Ish Kabibble, did you know that was the stage name for comedian/cornet player Merwyn Boque? 'Tis true: you inspired me to go look:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ish_Kabibble

Greg said...

Ooops...the penn quinns got me...his last name was actually Bogue.

; ) Heh heh...

Jenn Thorson said...

Greg- It's that darned rogue 'q' again, isn't it?

Or possibly 'roque' q's... Depending on who's quilting it. :)

Jay said...

No, no, you're NOT the only one. Well, you can see that already by the comments so far, but no. We have them too.

I've tried, I really have. But still these phrases pop up at odd times and now they've been joined by other phrases from Other Half's childhood! It's hideous!!! No-one, in this house can ever say 'I'll just put the kettle on' without someone saying 'it won't suit you'.

I thought 'apeth' was a real word when I was a kid. As in 'daft apeth'. Or to put it more plainly 'darf h'ap'orth' or 'half-pennyworth'.

There are so many, but I have tried to bury them.

Jenn Thorson said...

Jay- Oh wow, so now you have joint phrases to share on queue.... Yup, I can see it. And I love that as a kid you were translating your family's phrases into a whole new vocabulary. Now that's impressive!

Kirsten said...

I don't have any sayings, but I have actually licked on a tissue and washed my kid's face. I'm gross like that.

Jenn Thorson said...

Kirsten- Well, but, you're a MOM... You HAVE to do that. It's in the Mom Handbook, isn't it? I think you find it under "Saliva: The Vast Cleaning Potential Of".

It can't be considered gross when it's in the Handbook.

Chat Blanc said...

I too was brainwashed as a child with mom sayings; generally of the useless kind. . .

see ya later alligator
six of one, half a dozen of another
sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite

*cringes*

Jenn Thorson said...

Sandy- Oh good gad, my mother did every single one of those, too. That's terrifying.