Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On finding the right words

This is not about how to find the right way to say something complicated.

This is about how to throw a party.

A friend of mine who lives in Oregon likes to have these parties at the beginning of every summer wherein guests bring some pasta salad, maybe a few beers, oh, I don't know, perhaps some Jello? No, probably not Jello. But, you know. Coleslaw maybe. The hosts crank up a grill and cook hot dogs and burgers. Condiments are presented. There may be a lawn game or two involved.

In Oregon, such an event is called a BBQ. Or, spelled differently, a barbecue. The event is so recognizable as such, that my friend, should her last name be Windsor, could invite people to a Windsor-Q, and all attendees would know that it would be outside and that food would be cooked on a grill (fascinators optional).

I tried inviting some of my South Carolinian friends to an Aynor-Q recently. Later, when I mentioned that the grill - the one we keep outside and cook food on - would be heated for the event, I got a surprised response. "Oh, we're grilling?"

Right. Because not only was the Q not specific enough to suggest BBQ - which I get - but here, in the Deep South, the word BBQ (or barbecue) does not mean "a party where people cook outside." It is a noun that means "food that is cooked with smoke" or a verb that means "to cook with smoke." In the Carolinas, it can also be a noun defined as "pulled pork." Said pulled pork may be mixed with barbecue sauce, either vinegar or mustard-based, but NEVER, for the love of Jesus, will that sauce be tomato-based.

Here, an event where people cook outside on a grill is called a "cook out."

Oooooohkay. Lesson officially learned.

I also learned another lesson at what turned out to just be a good dinner party: if you're a yankee (I hear I am), don't try saying "y'all." It works in writing - I've found it's quite efficient as a plural, gender-neutral pronoun in a casual email. However, when I tried it on my guests, my efforts were met with mockery.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The gross post

WARNING: Do not read while eating. Or if you’re particularly sensitive to stories about poo or dead things. No dead people though. Just possibly somebody’s pet.

One weekday morning, as Roomie and I were making our morning coffee, I looked out the window and saw a pile of what looked like wet cardboard. No, wait, that’s fur. Wait, is that … an ear? That’s a cat. 

“That’s a dead cat in our yard. How did it get there?”

It was pretty far from the road, but since our bad dog hadn’t been out in the yard much lately (when she goes on walkabouts, she gets the ole “tied to the back porch” treatment for awhile. Until we get lax again.), we figured that the poor thing had probably gotten hit by a car and then dragged itself away from the road until it finally croaked. On our lawn outside the kitchen window. The nerve.

So when I put the dogs out, I again tied the bad dog, who enjoys nothing more than rolling in dead things or strange feces (thankfully not dog crap—but if there’s a pile of deer pellets, cat turds or—HEAVEN—people poo somewhere, she’s on her back lickety-split, rolling gleefully until she's smeared in shit) to the back deck. But I let the good one go wander around for her morning business, as she is wont to do. But when she came around the side of the house that I could see out of the kitchen window, I watched with great interest in what she would do. I generally think it’s interesting to watch the dogs when they don’t know we’re watching, because I am boring.

She had her nose to the ground and was sniffing intently. I watched her study the space in front of her, meandering closer to the dead cat, she circled, but she clearly wasn’t sure what she was about to find. When she finally came upon the thing laying in the grass, looked at it, realized what it was, she recoiled as if in horror and promptly trotted away.

It’s like she’s not even a dog.  

However, the white/bad dog (I know, it's backward. In our house black is good and white is evil.) is really effing cute when I get home from work. It's kind of why we keep her around.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Two minor points

1. There's a decent amount of farming going on where I live. This is not terribly new to me, Oregon has a lot of rural areas. Of course, what's different is what's grown. Oregon's all about seed, really. But you'll also see a lot of fun crops like strawberries and grapes. Here, I have tobacco fields growing literally across the street from my house.


The other day I decided to check the plants out, despite my fear of maybe being shot. Tobacco plants are really kind of pretty, with giant, crepey leaves. And since Bath and Body Works makes that really lovely fragrance called "Tobacco Flower," I assumed the pink flowers would smell good. They didn't smell like anything. I was pretty disappointed.

2. There are a few things that people out here say differently. Roomie says "cut on," in addition to saying "cut off." As in, "will you cut on that light for me?" This makes no sense to me, but he says it's a totally normal thing to say. They also use not just double negatives, but double-positives. As in, "how will we handle this situation? Well, we might could handle it this way ..." Well, maybe the "might" isn't a full positive, but a possible positive. Does that mean a "might could" is, like, a positive-and-a-half? Am I even making sense anymore?

Anyway, that was all a lead-in to one really adorable thing southerners say: they use the word "buggy" instead of "shopping cart." Isn't that cute?

They also, really, genuinely call people "yankees." I mean, I guess I knew that they did, but it still makes me giggle every time I hear it.