When I was in middle school, I fancied myself an aspiring poet. Instead of gently pushing me toward other more lucrative career choices, Dad bought me an album to collect my poems. I wrote them on all on different kinds of paper, you see, and he wanted to make sure that I kept them all together. He read all the poems and complimented all of them and always asked me, “What did you write today?” Though I’ve moved on from poetry (let’s all be thankful), Dad still always asks me what I’m writing. It’s just one of the great things about him; he’s always supportive and always encouraging of creativity.
Today, Dad, I’m writing about you.
Dad has a sentimental heart, but I know he likes lighter fare better than sappy tributes. In that spirit, I’ve collected and defined some of Dad’s most often used and most amusing expressions (with the help of my charming older sister A). Feel free to adopt these for yourself– you’d be in good company.
Later than skunks Usually said in a cartoonish voice and with a fake startle reaction. You might guess that he says this when he is running late, but only when he’s not really upset about being late. If he’s really upset, he paces in the kitchen and checks his keys and yells, “COME ON, MARSH. WE GOT TO GO.” (“Marsh” would be my mother. She’s more likely to be tardy.) I googled this expression and I can’t find it online. Congratulations, Dad, you are an original.
Let’s blow this taco stand. You probably know this one- it means, “let’s leave.” Why it’s a taco stand, I can’t be sure. I looked around online, and it might reference an obscure 70s song, a Mork & Mindy episode, or it may just be an alternate for, “let’s blow this joint.” I think it’s probably the last one. Dad went through a phase when he had to change all of his favorite expletives and expressions because my sister was repeating them in context and that didn’t fly at her preschool. Which brings us to….
Manischewitz! (man-ih-shev-itz) Dad uses this in moments of frustration, and it’s usually hissed under his breath. I believe it’s a replacement for “mother effer,” only that “effer” would be more explicit. As to why he chose a Jewish wine, it has something to do with the Polish community he grew up in, but none of them were Jewish so I still don’t totally understand. While we’re on the subject of being Polish, he also likes to say…
Don’t be such a dupayosh (spelling??) When I was little, Dad tossed this one off to my sister and me when we were acting like brats. He told us it was Polish for “ass” and his old aunts would say this to him when he was acting up as a child. When I got to college, I gleefully told a friend from Poland about this. He gave me a confused look and said, “Is you dad’s name John? Because that means, ‘John is a pain in the ass’.” John is my dad’s name, as it turns out.
Bummeruski You may have guessed that we’re a Polish family by now. As such, we like to add “ski” to many common words when talking to small children. “Helloski!” and “Oh No-ski!” are favorites with my nephew. “Bummeruski” is the original example of this practice, and my dad uses it with people of all ages to describe a variety of situations ranging from an emergency vet visit to a broken glass.
I’ll give you a cox in the hoisin (again, spelling?) As I typed this one, I realized it sounds kind of dirty. But I’m confident the meaning is closer to, “I’ll tan your hide.” Actually, this also sounds bad. I want to be clear: my father was never ever abusive. This was more of an empty threat when one of us was being frustrating. Like, “Quit repeating the word ‘bambino’ or I’ll give you a cox in the hoisin.” I can’t begin to guess where this originated.
Let me see if I get this straight… A) yes, B) no… I rest my case. This is usually delivered with a sly, superior smile. Dad loves to use this one to win an argument or point out something he thinks is ridiculous. It’s his ultimate way of shutting you down because he takes away your gray area and gives you two choices: yes or no. If you try to say “yes, but…” or “no… but,” he’ll interrupt you and say, “Oh no… A) yes, B) no.” It goes something like this:
“So, let me see if I get this straight: you and you friends got together and decided to have a party in an abandoned house and you brought alcohol with you even though none of you are 21. A) yes, B) no.”
“Well, yes, but it’s not really abandoned and I didn’t–”
“Ah, ah, ah… I said A) yes, B)no. Which was it?”
(disgruntled and begrudging look) “A) yes.”
(arms folded over chest in triumph) “I rest my case.”
I’m beginning to get the picture and it’s not a very pretty one. Delivered in his best Sherlock Holmes voice, and it means you’re explaining a situation to him that is sounding worse and worse. He likes to use this when we escalate with him. You might start off telling him that you need help picking something up from the dry cleaner. Then once he has his keys, you tell him you also need some milk and eggs and special shampoo from the store. Once he writes down your list, you tell him to stop by the bank to get some cash. And this is about when he starts talking about the picture and what it’s really showing him.
Jim Dandy When you ask my mom how she is, she’ll answer honestly: “Tired,” “Oh, not great,” “Fine I guess.” My dad almost always answers “Jim Dandy.” Most people use this as a noun and it’s supposed to be old school slang for someone who’s very pleasing. Dad uses it as an adjective to mean basically the same thing. So I guess he’s always saying that he’s pleasing to everyone. Real modest, Dad.
Jee-man-eez This is another one that he uses in lieu of the curse word he actually wants to say. I don’t have any idea what this one actually means because it doesn’t sound like any curse words I know. I most often hear it during the holidays when my mom gives him an errand list or when he sees all the stuff he has to carry down from the attic.
Work! Said in a high pitched shrieky voice that you might also use when jumping away from a mouse. He likes to use this often since his retirement a few years ago, and it’s in the spirit of, “Oh, you have to work for a living? How horrifying!” He thinks it’s hilarious. And I also think he’s a little smug that he had to work all those years and now he doesn’t have to but everybody else does. It goes something like this:
Dad: How was your day?
Me: Okay, I guess. I just went to work.
It’s my belief system that… This is another favorite debate tool. I think it’s his way of softening his statements, like he’s making it clear that this is just what he thinks. There’s something very moral high groundy about it, though. Usually when he uses this he’s really saying, “Well, you’re a total idiot and I’m about to say something that sounds really simple and is way more logical that you can ever hope to be.”
I’m innocent! He says this whether he really is or not, so it’s hard to know when he’s being truthful. He usually says it while making the surrender gesture. Some things he might be “innocent” of: not putting more Diet Coke in the fridge after drinking the last one, breaking something while washing the dishes, or leaving the back door open and letting all the bugs in. He likes to use this one when he is falsely accused and he follows it up with some variation of, “That was lousy, Missy.” (“Missy” would be his nickname for my mom.)
If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’. Used when he just said something outrageous. Dad is a good storyteller and he likes to tease, and he’s done enough strange things in his life that it’s often difficult to tell when he’s making stuff up. Sometimes we accuse him of fibbing about something particularly spectacular, and he’ll reply with this. My dad is a pretty honest guy, so when he says this, you know he’s not messing with you.
Dad: And then my friend drove his motorcycle down the hall.
Me: No way. Dad, you’re making that up.
Dad: If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin.
Happy Thanksgiving Day to you… You won’t understand why this is unusual until you realize that Dad sings this to the tune of “Happy Birthday” and he does it every Thanksgiving when he gets us out of bed. He loves Thanksgiving because he doesn’t have to buy anything or go any where and the point of the day is to eat with his family. He sings this song with gusto, and there is usually an accompanying dance.
Cat-as-trophe! Yelped when something only moderately bad happens. For example, one might drop a lightbulb or spill a glass of milk, and this would be the reaction. If a child falls and splits his or her lip, he wouldn’t yell this, but he would take said child outside to bleed on the concrete until my mom shows up to deal with it. True story.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. You really are the best guy I know and the best dad for me. If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’.