“Now it’s time” for a vocab review

Categorized as 03/23/09 Goshen News column

“Now it’s time” for a vocab review

What makes your family unique? What is it that sets yours apart and makes it different from other families? Surely one answer would be the traditions you observe. No two families are exactly alike in how they observe special occasions.

Another thing that sets a family apart from every other family on earth is their vocabulary – certain words or phrases they use or that describe them specifically. You know what I mean. You have your own buzz words and catch phrases that you use amongst yourselves. These may come from inside jokes that only your clan knows about or sayings that have been handed down over the years. What follows is a list of words and phrases that I’ve compiled from our very own family lexicon.

1. KKK (n.) – An acronym for the Krispy Kreme Klub. We’re huge fans of those circular orbs of sweetness and delight. In fact, we never get further than, “Wanna go for some Krispy Kre-” before the stooges all have themselves loaded in the van, nearly drooling on their shirts in anticipation. It’s like yelling, “Fire!” in a crowded theater. If you’re not at the front of the pack, you’d better step to the side and wait out the stampede or you will have sneaker prints up your back.
2. God’s hammer (n.) – Whoever helps the mother go after an errant boy. This is typically the father or the college freshman. Occasionally, a wrestling match will break out in which they are all five “errant boys,” and the job falls to the poor little mother. In the event that an unsanctioned hammering is carried out, the mother will usually report (via vivid word pictures, sound bites, and a blow-by-blow accounting) to the judge, jury, and executioner upon his return from work. He takes it from there.
3. Nail (n.) – The errant boy who is being “encouraged in the ways of righteousness” by an agent of God. See above.
4. Tailback (n.) – The offensive back who lines up farthest from the line of scrimmage. My father once announced to my mother and brother that he himself had been an All-American tailback. When they expressed their astonishment, he said, “Every time I get off the bench, the coach hollers, ‘Get your tail back!’” Mention of this always triggers guffaws.
5. Quick evaporator (adj., n.) – Explanation for why there were no tears of note when someone (ahem) faked hurt feelings and a crying spell recently. Hey, it was the best I could come up with at the time.
6. Peck detector (n.) – A built-in alarm that triggers a flurry of action when anyone but parents (and a very quick grandmother) approaches a certain young man with puckered lips. This phrase was coined by an uncle who personally witnessed 30 seconds of spontaneous combustion when an unapproved kisser (i.e., a sibling) attempted a sneak attack while the detector lay sleeping.
7. Jeaniuses (n.) – A small person in blue jeans who demonstrates remarkable skill and cunning in pulling pranks and stealing cookies. I personally know four. Over the years, their parents have been overheard saying to each other, “It wasn’t very wise, was it, to have kids that are smarter than both of us put together?” Comment is made with head shaking, eye rolling, and a certain degree of pallor.
8. Crowd control (adj., n.) – A method of maintaining order, especially when traveling by car. This issue is highly simplified when driving in a small vehicle like – oh, say a Toyota Corolla. During outbreaks of civil unrest, a father can reach any and all perpetrators seated behind him with one swipe of the arm. See below.
9. “Now it’s time…”– A vague, threatening phrase (n.) thundered in a deep bass voice. This one is rooted in family history. Mr. Schrock and his very own siblings, in fact, were the sinners who used to be the recipients of this fatherly directive. This was especially unnerving for little thugs gone wild in the back seat as it was usually accompanied by a large, meaty arm swinging back and forth, looking for the troublemakers’ legs. As they reported later, they became experts at arm avoidance, pressing in their spines, sucking in their belly buttons, and praying to become one with the vinyl. As one of them laughingly said once, “And we never had the nerve to ask what time it was, either.”

Smart kids. “Jeaniuses,” in fact. Now I know where Mr. Schrock gets it and where his kids get it. And that’s why it never fails to crack me up when I hear this very phrase booming up the stairs to a second generation in a deep bass voice.

“You’re no help,” he mutters, giving me a baleful glare, albeit it with a twinkle.

No, I’m probably not. But it sure is funny.

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