Being from the Midwest means I grew up with Iowa talk and Midwestern lingo. Some of it applies across the country, but none of it seems to have made it to California. Like the pioneers who had to discard their prized possessions alongside the trail as their tired oxen could no longer take the weight, Californians have forgotten or filtered out those Iowa–isms or Minnesota-isms or wherever-they-have-come-from isms.
Then my mom moved in with my younger sister just down the road in the Santa Cruz mountains. Those isms are back in my life in a big way.
Not one iota!
Scads of laundry!
A pinch of salt.
A scoche of jam.
A smidge of ice cream.
A tad bit more coffee.
Okay, she hasn’t actually said all those things since she got here, but she did use the word “iota” the other day, and all the Iowa-isms came rushing back to me. I hadn’t thought about some of them in a month of Sundays.
Not since the cows came home (or something like that). When pigs fly.
See what I mean?
Then there was my mother-in-law from Nebraska. She had a whole different set of isms. Once she told me I was as independent as a hog on ice. I wasn’t sure if that was an insult or a compliment, and she didn’t explain.
Another time she said that I would complain if I was hung with a short rope. That one sounded bad. Her glare didn’t help either. Also something about white on rice.
Our relationship was complicated. She insulted my firstborn’s eyes. She insulted my last-born’s eye color and accused me of sleeping with the mailman. I hoped that she was kidding, but I don’t think she was at all.
“No one on Bxxxx’s side of the family has blue eyes,” she said when I explained to her that the blue eye trait is recessive, and it takes two blue-eyed genes to make a blue-eyed baby.
“Someone on his side did,” I said.
“Nope,” she said crossing her arms.
“Maybe in his dad’s family,” I pressed.
“Nope,” she said.
None of my siblings (nor I) has blue eyes. Neither does our mother. Nor did our late father. But each of us has one blue-eyed child. That’s an easy one for our side of the family. Our grandmother was a blue-eyed gal.
My ex-husband’s father passed away before I never knew him. So who knows?
At any rate, the mailman was not my type.
I wish I would’ve written down all the gems my mother-in-law said. She is gone now, and so are the isms. My ex doesn’t use them. My kids don’t say them. We are Californians, and the thing that distinguishes us from the rest of the country is overuse of “like”, which we insert in our conversations, like, all the time.
Californians are the first to use the cool slang of Hollywood and LA, like my bad, sweet, that is sick, bring the bling, etc. It flies around the state until everyone knows what it means.
Someone on the Facebook page I Grew up in Iowa, asked the other month what it meant when someone said that they have your back. I replied, explaining that it means the person will support you, no matter what.
It’s the least I could do for my Iowa peeps. It’s like, so easy to explain the West Coast lingo to the Midwestern Facebook friends.