“Daddy, Why Can’t I Say ‘Ass?'” Chapter 11—Obfuscate and Derail
I have to face facts, I’m ridiculous. The problem is, I’m the oldstyle ‘ridiculous,’ not the new, bitchingly cool ‘ridiculous!’ To some of my daughter’s friends, I’m crazy—except it’s not the good kind of modern ‘crazy,’ it’s the old, stoo-pid crazy. If I say in friendly greeting, ‘Hey Nigger!’ I’m a raving bigot, not a brotherly soul. I’m ‘okay,’ but slightly anachronistic. I try to be ‘hella’ current, bitch, but come off as an old beatnik lost in an unknown part of the city.
I’m verbally behind the times, and have retreated into a real language with universally accepted terms: English. I capitulated, in other words. To some of Katy’s friends, this renders me oft-unintelligible and arguably superior, the way I like it.
One of the greatest allies parents have is their vocabulary, along with a platform from which to use it. Teens are obligated to listen to you, as a parent, so long as you have leverage. When you hold the keys to the car, you’re like EF Hutton—they listen when you speak. However, no matter what the situation, your teen will come to you prepared with an arsenal of arguments to prove what they want is just, correct, and the only decent course of action. They’re all lawyers at that age. That’s where having a vocabulary comes in handy.
“Dad!I need new clothes…”
What? I’m buying clothes all the time, most of which I see later in a brown bag earmarked for The Salvation Army. “What happened to the habiliments I keep getting you?”
“Look it up.” Teens will do anything other than crack a dictionary, even if they have to do it with no clothes. Mostly, they’ll slip away in silence. Sufficiently obfuscated, now I derail. “Besides, you’re always wearing Missy’s or Kelly’s clothes. Have them buy something new. Have you done your homework?”
“Yes,” of course.
“Aren’t report cards coming soon? How’s algeb…” I’m talking to her back.
Like the cat who’s walking away, poor kid’s only got one eye… I chuckle to myself.
We’re in the car, ready to head to the movies. Missy is with us, a friend of Katy’s. The three of us are waiting for Babe in the carport. I can feel Katy ramping up to ask the obvious question and employ some pre-emptive derailment.
“Say something funny…” I say. This way I can deflect any hard questions before they arise, like: Is she coming? Meaning Babe, which I would have to answer with an unsatisfying and irritating: Eventually…
“Like what?” Katy wants to know.
“I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking you.”
Missy thinks about it and says: “Tushy…” She remembers that whenever someone says ‘tushy’ I laugh. I don’t know why, I just do. “Tushy, tushy, tushy…”
I laugh. “Very FANNY…” and struggle with what to say next. Say anything that comes to mind… I think. Quickly! “We should open a sushi place and call it Tushy Sushi.” Which is so hard to say even once we all have trouble with it.
Missy: “Tushy Shushy.”
Katy: “Tushi Shushi.”
We’re all laughing and trying to say Tushy Sushi correctly, even once, then three times fast. It’s impossible.
“We can advertise that it’s ‘all that it’s cracked up to be,’” I offer.
The two girls reply in unison, “Ewwww?”
“That’s so asinine, Dad.”
“Think it’s a BUM idea?” (Delayed laugh.) While they’re scrambling for “ass” puns I get us back on track. “Sound YAKI?” (Shrieks of laughter). “HAMACHI wanna bet it’ll work?” As a sushi aficionado already, Katy gets this but Missy is lost.
I tell them, “I know… you can’t TEKKA MAKI me anywhere!” (This cliché is before their time.) “You SASHIMI on a good day though.” (Groans.)
“One more word and I’m gonna SAKÉ you,” Katy jumps into the verbal fray.
I mentally congratulate her. “Okay, okay, but it’s TOBIKKONTINUED though. TUNA in later—”
“Oh my gawd! Shut up?”
Thankfully, Babe makes it out the door, checks the doorknob to make sure it’s locked then stops—wondering, I’m sure, if she’s left a cigarette burning.
“What’s she doing now?” Katy wants to know, long past being ready to leave.
“I don’t know,” I set her up. “Looks FISHY to me.”
“Will you stop!”
“Want me to CLAM up?”
Both the kids groan. Babe makes her way to the car and gets inside.
“Thank God you’re here,” Missy says to her.
“Can we go now?” Katy asks.
“What are you guys talking about?” Babe wants to know.
“Tushy Shushy…” I try to tell her but it comes out wrong, again. The girls laugh.
“Tooshy Shooshy…” Missy laughs.
“Tushy Shlushy… Ha-ha!” Katy fails in her attempt to tell Babe what we’ve been talking about. Both the girls start flinging words around.
The three of us are laughing out loud. Babe is eyeing me with a sidelong glance as she situates herself in the car. I get the feeling she’s searching for an explanation.
“Ass fish,” I tell her.
“What the hell?”
“Best not to ask,” I suggest, and start the car.
Copyright © 2009 Mitchell Geller