Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You Learn Something New Every Day

The good people of Iowa have taught me a great many things.

Some good... some bad... some downright laughable.

Let's start with the vocabulary.

Now, as a technical writer (and a newly talented blogger), I consider my daily jargon to be relatively advanced. What else do you expect from someone who spends hours of her day writing? Well, besides the fact that my spelling isn't always perfect I believe I can definitely wing it where the English language is concerned.

However, that does not include strange, primitive, hick town phrases or words which I have never in my life heard!!

(Note: As is a usual occurrence in my blogs, I might be exaggerating just a tad bit, and the truth is - you may have ACTUALLY heard of these words/phrases before. Now I did not grow up a princess (although my husband and my brother-in-law may disagree on that point) but no, I am not familiar with slang terms for tools or words that describe farm-like physical exertions. Why is it that men know what these terms mean? I don't think it's because they look up the definitions in the dictionary. They just know it. They probably knew all the inappropriate words back in preschool before we women did because they make it their business to know. Either that, or they pretend to know what everything means and then just make us feel stupid when we have no idea what they're talking about.)

Ok, here's the vocabulary list:

1. Consignment Shop (otherwise known as a thrift shop - this one's for you Rachel!)

One day, I was on my way to TCBY ice cream with Aviva when I noticed a children's shop right next store. I immediately noticed that it wasn't an ordinary store - there was baby equipment (strollers, swings, pack-n-plays...) lined up outside and a sign on the window that said "Accepting Today". Accepting what I thought? Customers? Of course they are!! Then I thought, hey Aviva! Let's go in!

Once we went in, I realized what was meant by "Accepting Today". They're accepting items for their store!! People actually bring their used items to the store and depending on the quality and condition, receive money for it! Then the customers come in and have the option to purchase such items! Fascinating!! There was clothing, toys, shoes, books, videos. You name it, they had it. I called my mother and explained to her this wondrous phenomenon. She said yes, honey. That is called a thrift store. People bring in used items for other people to buy at a discounted price. She then probably mumbled under her breathe (Oh lord, where did I go wrong?!?!)

Now I have very dear friends who shop at these places and are down-right proud of it. You go girls!! That's not to say however, that I have not bought a single item from the store and each time I pass it, the only true thought that comes across my mind is "how much money can I get when I bring in my used items!!"

2. Sack

Now, ok y'all, I know what a "sack" is - but not in reference to grocery shopping! The first time I went to Walmart, the lady at the cash register kindly asked, "Would you like a sack for your milk?

A sack? for my milk? Whatever happened to "paper or plastic?" lady?! I'm going grocery shopping for Gd's sake not apple picking!

And yes, I would like a sack for my milk. Please don't make me feel guilty that I am not being kind to my environment. But I am carrying a toddler and pregnant, and it would just be a whole lot easier if I could carry my milk into the house in a SACK.

Now a friend of mine once told me that she thinks it's hilarious that her mother in law calls her shopping bags "parcels" or "bundles" or something of that nature... Well that least that sounds refined!! No, sorry. When I go shopping, I have to carry home my sacks of food.

3. Doohickey

Now, I actually had to look this one up in the thesaurus. It's a synonym for widget. Context in which I learned this word? Surely you are wondering because lord knows I would never use the word doohickey on my own.

Our landlord promised us an external paint job on our house pretty much since the day we moved in. Well, as July quickly turned to October, we had not yet received our paint job. Not to complain, because we've been very happy with our arrangements thus far- but I was really counting on that paint job!

Well, one day, out of the clear blue sky at the end of October, someone knocked on our door and asked my babysitter to move her car so the paint truck could park in our driveway. They were here! And ready to paint!! No call, no note, no heads up - just -- move your car!! We've got some painting to do!

Hey... gotta choose your battles. I said "Jess, move that car!!"

The paint job went rather smoothly. I was actually quite pleased with the two-toned ensemble they chose. Our house is a cream/taupe and the garage and front door are a deep brown. But when hick #1 was busy painting the garage, hick #2 went to work on the front door. Josh happened to have been home at the time, when hick #2 kindly asked him, "Hey man - what's that doohickey on your doorpost? Can I take it off to paint the door?

Oh great, the Mezuzah again.

No, we don't use it for witchcraft and no, no one has ever referred to it as a doohickey.

After quickly thinking on his toes, Josh realized the man was referring to the Mezuzah and kindly took 2 minutes out of his busy schedule to conduct a mini-kiruv session on Mezuzahs. And yes, kindly, after the paint job was over - hick #2 helped us put the our doohickey Mezuzah back on the door ever so lovingly.

4. Entertainment Packets

Last night, at my Student Advocacy Association Meeting, the theme of the night was "making inexpensive Christmas gifts". Granted, I wasn't going to stay for the actual activity, but I went to the beginning of the meeting to hear all the other announcements. Since the theme of the night seemed to be "being thrifty" one girl reminded the group that in the Sunday paper, there is a wonderful Entertainment Packet. What this is is not just a book of coupons for stores (which I understand that concept perfectly well), but the book also has coupons at restaurants - like "buy one entree, get the other one half off."

This just confused me. Maybe I'm sheltered because I only eat at Kosher restaurants and Jews would never do such a thing as mail out coupons for their entrees, but I just wondered what it would be like to hand a coupon to the waiter at a formal restaurant. Do they know they sent those coupons out in the mail? Is everyone on the same page here? Do they have to call the manager to scan it??

Hmm.... food for thought. (No pun intended)

5. Manual Garage

Pardon me, but no part of the word "garage" was ever manual in my lifetime. Until now. No clicker, no "open sesame", no playing with the garage sensor and making the door stop midway in its descent. Nope. It's called a rope. You pull it when you want the thing closed. You shove it upward when you want the thing open.

Enough said.

6. Elbow Grease

Now, my history with the term "elbow grease" goes beyond my Des Moines days. It started in my parent's kitchen on Harding Street when I was polishing the silver (one of my lesser favorite activities). When I couldn't get the hard stains out of the candle sticks, I maturely went to whine to my mother that we needed stronger silver polish solution. "Dear" she said, "It just needs some good old-fashioned elbow grease." Oh - why didn't I think of that?

5 minutes later my mother found me on the highest tier of our step stool in our walk-in pantry (no Stawis woman is above 5"4)with a frustrated look on my face saying, "Imma. You said it needed elbow grease. I can't find it!! Where the heck is it???"

A moment later, I had to literately lift my mother from the floor who was rolling in tears of laughter. For those of you who don't know, elbow grease means MANUALLLLLL LABORRRRR - it means grind that elbow a little harder!!! It means.... no.... it does not come in a bottle!!!

And by the way, I was not 11 when this story occurred. I was more like 20.

Point being, I've used a lot of elbow grease since I arrived in Des Moines. The real kind.

7. Crawl Space

This one I have to hand to my husband. I was thrilled to notice when we first toured our house that we had a lovely storage space under the stairwell. A great place for storing our suitcases, paper goods, folding chairs, (85 boxes which Josh cut and folded PERFECTLY and chose to keep until our next move). When we were in the depths of unpacking and moving in - Josh would say, "Malkie, put this in the crawl space!!"

The what?

I am not a toddler. I do not crawl. What space is for crawling? Oh THAT AREA?? That's a storage room. Why do people call it a crawl space? I sure as heck ain't crawling in there.

Well there you have it. Your daily dose of Iowan vocabulary. Like I said, some of you (most of you) probably heard these terms before. I did not.

Go ahead, laugh. Make fun. Call me a snob. But I bet when I leave this city... I'll sure know a lot more about doohickeys and shopping sacks then you ever will.


Shosh said...

alright, i know what all those terms mean. Maybe its because I grew up in Milwaukee and the hick is in my blood?
If you want to look at it the other way, my sister called last year when she was in stern and told me she was at a LeSport Sack Sample sale.
I had never heard of Lesport Sack or a sample sale. And i only recently learned who Michael Koors is. :)

Eliana Miriam Hoffman said...
Print out a 10% off coupon for pretty much any restaurant in Israel.
Yes, it's tacky. Yes, I do it.

Etana said...

Your posts are hilarious!! i get so excited when i see on facebook that you updated your blog :). and also has these auctions, me and zev use them all the time- you bid on a voucher that's worth a certain amount, and whoever goes highest for that voucher wins. We just went out to a place called Noya with a 350 NIS voucher that we paid 212 NIS for- mucho tacky, i love it!

Rachelz said...

You are hilarious! I am smiling broadly after reading that post.