“Don’t step on that skank. You have to be careful because she’s so small.”
This was the warning my mother issued to my daughter this morning. I know it sounds like I live in an absolutely insane household, but it’s not really that bad. Simply, whenever any animal is especially filthy or ill-looking, my mother refers to the creature as “skanky.” Due to her unique vocabulary, I had always accepted this adjective to mean just that; skanky = very dirty and pitiful in appearance. At one point in the past, I used this word in my classroom when asking the students if anyone wanted to adopt a stray cat I had recently found. My students instantly erupted in laughter, and I didn’t initially realize that I had just told them I found an extremely promiscuous cat. So, the current skank to be careful of was another stray cat my brother had recently found outside his place of employment.
In addition to referring to this creature as a skank, both of my parents have often spewed some unique phrases I once accepted as normal. I remember when I was young and couldn’t immediately locate my mother; I would ask my father where she was at. He would reply one of two ways: “Ah, I took her out back and shot her,” or “she’s buried in the back forty.” He would then proceed to laugh hysterically at his joke. Apparently, lying to your children about having murdered their mother is a fucking laugh riot.
While my mom has always bitched at most of the pets, calling them skanks or nuisances (she honestly named one of our past cats FC for fucking cat), my father was adamant that we give them proper attention. To this day, if I walk past one of the animals without acknowledging their presence, my father will state: “Say a kind word.” This is his request that we say “good dog” or something of the like. He will also holler at me from another room, “Angela! Angela! Get downstairs!” I always go, still expecting that he has some urgent need that I must attend to. I am then told, “Look at the dog.” Usually, the dog is doing nothing but lying on his lap and slobbering, but apparently I have just missed the cutest, most adorable, heart-melting thing in the whole wide world … ever!
While unlike my father in almost every other way, my husband also uses the most random of phrases. His expressions are those of an eighty year old man. I think I’ve actually heard him say “Hot Dog!” in excitement before. He’s generally quite mild in comparison to me. On one occasion, however, enthusiastic about something he had just witnessed, he exclaimed, “That’s the cat’s ass!” This was new to me; I had heard of the cat’s pajamas, but never the cat’s ass.
So -- if you listen well to the world around you, you will constantly be delighted and entertained, learning new expressions and terms nearly every day. To be observant and subsequently amused by your surroundings is totally the cat’s ass.