Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three Bags Full

If there is one thing I love about the Tool Shed it has to be the vernacular. It can only be described as a healthy butchering of the South Cheatham dialect combined with a mastery of fixed expressions most of which are extended phrases coined by Ken Petty. Of course, each participant is welcome to incorporate ridiculousness into the mix. Correct spelling typically counts against you. The only requirement is that you must somehow express a feeling or idea where the audience understands your intent, however grammatically incorrect one's conveying may be.

When my caller identification allows me the identity of some particular callers, I typically answer the telephone, "Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full please..." While I am not privy to the medical mechanics of the response, I do know it provides the incognizant throw back to the days of nursery rhymes which typically produces a smile much better than a standard, "hello." Elementary genius as that is, it pales in comparison to the colorful explanation of a "shoot low Zeke!" In my formative years, I used to wonder just who this Zeke fellow was. Eventually, I realized, it really didn't matter, but the intended use was for me to hold on tight to something or move out of the way of something else. I might die wondering the significance of my good man Zeke. "Reckon which way is North?" is a much better phrase to start the work day off than an insincere, "Did you have a good weekend?" Fact is, I typically don't care about the particulars of which one of those Nancies watched Brokeback Mountain. But you have to say something, or do you?

Some of my favorites are when the communication has a total breakdown. My dad once noticed that I was attempting to back up a truck to a trailer, and he came over to give me the universally accepted hand signals. I became puzzled when he dropped the usual signals for what can only be described as upwards and diagonal shooters of an emphatic nature. I shrugged, which apparently just made him angry. Stressed by the useless gesture (as well as the inability of my vehicle to not lift off the ground in an emphatic Northwesterly direction), I rolled down my window and exclaimed, "I'm not flying a helicopter!"

If you ever visit the tool shed, I will be glad to give you a quick reference. You should know that all medication is called "ibepropanal." Most people under use the word "grim," but not us. "What made you want to do that, reckon?" should not offend you. And we allow or "low." We also work "lespedeza" (pronounced lespedezer) into conversation frequently.

The funny thing is that this vernacular is contagious. One becomes almost myopic to it after a short period of time until it gets extended too far like the phrase"...that coffee tastes like panther piss."

While I'm not sure when these practices began, I do know that my Grandaddy Petty was a master. His phrases would often be set as a poem or a song. To date the most sick I have ever been was while stuck on a small fishing boat in the choppy Atlantic. It's like being totally nauseated all the while being stuck on the Wallbash Cannonball. He was as sick as I was, but he coined the lyric, "If I live to be one hundred and three, you'll never find me, back down by the sea." thereby making a horrific experience into a funny one.

So the next time someone asks you how you are doing, I hope you'll respond with a "magically delightful my good man" or a "if I were any better, I'd spontaneously combust into two of me."