The parents’ lessons linger long:
Anything worth doing is worth doing well
Put your back into it, girl
You knucklehead! You numbskull!
Shut up or I’ll give you something to cry about
You’d gripe if you was hung with a new rope
And worst of all:
Which meant the sky was going to fall.
This is a Friday Flash 55. If you want to tell a story in exactly 55 words, post it and go tell the host with the most, the G-Man.
I’m sure my parents said some fine things about life, aside from that one gem about “Anything worth doing is worth doing well,” but what I remember today is the more colorful stuff.
Some of it was funny, and some of it was hard.
From the get-go, doing what we were told without complaint was the order of the day. Punishment was swift and corporal otherwise. If I cried afterward, I got that awful “Shut up or I’ll give you something to cry about.” I hated that one. It was demeaning.
But I grew up to be a good worker and not a whiner.
My dad was the source of the colorful life lessons. Although he liked to call his kids knuckleheads and numbskulls, which isn’t nice, he also criticized with a home-grown humor. He was the one who said, “You’d gripe if you was hung with a new rope” and “Watch out or you'll trip over that lower lip.” Another favorite is “You got champagne tastes on a beer budget.”
He once told us solemn youngsters, “Do what your mother says. If she says, ‘Shit!’ you say, ‘Where and how much?’” I actually said that to my mother the next time I heard her say, “Shit!” I got in big trouble.
(To tell the honest truth, I had to take the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous before I could let all this trauma lie peacefully in the past. It also helped that I grew up.)
Dad walked jauntily and carried a big belt. Mom had a sharp tongue and a temper. She was a slammer of cupboard doors. On the other hand, she was also the source of the funniest cuss word I’ve ever heard.
I think she made up that word “Shingamucka-high-lo!” (which I present to you phonetically since I have no idea how it would be spelled). It always had an exclamation point behind it, and it expressed either shock, contempt, dismay, or surprised anger over a bad thing. I find myself using it these days to express the same reactions.
Has anyone out there ever heard the word “Shingamucka-high-lo!” in any form whatsoever?
I ask in earnest because a) It would be cool if Mom made up a word, and b) my first husband used to say something that sounded like “I chi notay pin chay cab rhone!” when he hurt himself, and then I started using it too (thinking it was a Japanese cuss word from his navy years) until I married my beloved Joe, who is fluent in Spanish, and he informed me it was a nasty insult that mustn’t be used in any context except a street fight, and then only if I wanted my butt kicked.