Word Families

bookopen2Every family possesses a language all its own, independent of its own nation, region, or race. Here in the U.S. despite the fact that we all (supposedly) speak the same tongue, we rarely understand one another. As Mark Twain reminds us during one of his visits to France: In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language. Perhaps French families teach their children a different form of the language then our American textbooks teach us.

Our family is no different; in a house of eight kids (give or take several) and two frazzled adults (not to mention aunts, uncles, cousins, and a multitude of friends), our home rivals the population of a small mid-west town. As such, variations in language emerge everyday to confuse and bewilder those foolish enough to believe that vocabulary should remain static. The following represents only a small chunk of aberrations of speech typical of the Murphey family:


A – (noun) abbreviation for ass or mule, an irritating individual

Etymology – a truly worthless substitution used by Mother Murphey in order to insult someone like my brother Sean without being crude (i.e. actually saying the word ‘ass’). Though the insult endures despite the replaced terminology, Mom still affirms that it is a much politer method to degrade an insufferable twit.


Mo-gift – (noun) a gift or present given to another solely for the benefit of the giver (presumably because both individuals live together)

Etymology – derived from the Christmas gifts given by my Aunt Mo, such as a blender to her husband, an iron to her daughter, and a Steel Magnolias DVD to her son


Ijit – (noun) A poor driver (i.e. one who drives too slowly, cuts others off, sidles between two lanes, drives without headlights in the rain, or generally reads, texts, shaves, applies makeup, picks nose, cleans car, or checks email all while driving)

Etymology – typically an ijit applies only to others never the speaker regardless of how many infractions he or she commits while condemning others.


Warsh – (verb) to clean, wipe clear

Etymology – origin unknown; however, Mom affirms that this word is quite common across the country (none of my college friends can confirm this despite their state of birth). Often mispronounced by the general public as ‘wash’ (note the absence of the ‘r’); after years of usage, this word earned several younger Murpheys poor scores on their Spelling Bee’s

See Also: Warshington D.C., Warshinton state, General George Warshington


Moth-van-bush-wooken – (part.) to shove up in one’s face

Etymology – created by Pat’s good friend Matthew, who irritated by the tendency of ESPN newscasters to make up words (i.e. winningest) wished to illustrate just how easy it is to report the sports when proper diction is no longer required.


Which-come – (noun) a missing object; a lost tool or instrument so well hidden that its very name eludes the speaker

Etymology – My family’s word for anything we cannot remember: “Ok, so we have our hammer, nail gun, and the jigsaw . . . where’s that whichcome I left here?” “Your iced tea is behind you, Dad.”


Japanese porn – (noun) manga or anime

Etymology – Sigh. Ok, so one little misunderstanding and my hobby deteriorates into an activity for freaks or deviants . . . anyway, term derived by Murph’s brothers and sisters after browsing through some Love Hina comics he had received for Christmas. Despite my constant and continued protests, this appellation continues. I am so sorry Mr. Miyazaki.

Of Fiends and Fountain Drinks

conquer3In these times of financial difficulties (i.e. “Hey! Where’d all my money go?”), lifestyle changes are expected.  Many of my cousins upon graduating high school have shied away from out-of-state education, investing in used cars, gas stations and morning commutes from home; others have ignored the traditional college altogether, seeking apprenticeships in trade schools, community colleges, or donning their suits or aprons in the work force.  In the Murphey house, with several of the siblings already in college, expenses have been tight: fewer meals outside the house, more carpooling, and no unauthorized visits to the bookstore . . . unless somehow linked to another far-more-necessary errand such as picking up the kids from practice or restocking our dwindling supply of breath mints.  You know . . . essential stuff.

Yet even my weekly rations of manga and short-story anthologies must be curbed.  Barnes and Nobel employees find me staring longingly at the latest Bestsellers like a twelve-year old at a pet store.  No one seems to mind me petting the spines, but when I start chatting up the authors many of whom have been dead for centuries, someone typically comes and asks me to leave.  This never halts my conversations but out in the parking lot, people seem to mind less.

As with most problems, money is the issue.  Therefore, in order to satisfy my bibliomania I’ve curtailed other less-necessary addictions like eating (half-portions), gaming (goodbye WoW), and education (graduated . . . finally).  One final expense remains: raspberry iced tea.

No force on earth, save its total destruction (thus rendering this whole argument moot), can sate my hourly need for half-way decent tea.  Other men have their Starbucks and Bud Light; I have my Lipton.  I cannot change this.  What I can do is try to cut down on the cost of my caffeine, thus saving capital for more pressing addictions: books and comics.

Thus I put my college math to work for me.  Borders like many cafés offers refills on a few of their beverages for a discounted price (50 cents or so, not including tax). Therefore my $2.40 iced tea with a refill actually decreases to about a buck and half.  As the number of refills gradually increases – assuming of course the serendipitous occasion of finding myself at the bookstore all day – the average cost per cup will decrease to about fifty cents.  My costly obsession with caffeinated beverages might actually provide a useful everyday application to my high school calculus and save me money in the process.  A rare treat indeed!

After all, apart from simple arithmetic and remembering how to spell ‘cat,’ how often can we honestly admit using those high school factoids oh so necessary for our mid-terms and pre-lunch pop quizzes?  Without the aid of Wikipedia, the name of the 30th president, conversion of meters to inches, and forty or so state capitals are long forgotten, buried under years of academic trivia, for use only during reruns of Jeopardy or boring parties.  Thus, it’s a real pleasure when I can apply these archaic mental-nuggets for use in my daily life.

Back to the calculus.  Stopping at a red light I formulated the following equation:

(2.40 + x(.50)) / (1+x)                                      x = being the # of refills consumed

Cost of Iced Tea per Refill at Borders

Cost of Iced Tea per Refill at Borders

Naturally the more I drink, the less spent per cup, offering more capital to invest in novels, Japanese comics, and the like.

Last Tuesday gave me the chance to test my theory.  The boys’ graduation practice ran a little longer and so I found myself with another hour at Borders to snoop through the shelves and tempt myself to some new fiction.  I managed to refill my cup three times, and as you can see from the graph, decreased the cost of my drink to nearly a buck.  With each delicious sip, I managed to steal the wealth of corporate America through some legal loophole.  I felt empowered, heroic like that weary young man, who upon returning from war and torture abroad built his keep among the trees, thieving spoils from the wealthy and distributing it to the destitute.  The Robin Hood of book buyers.

Yet all great ideas have their flaws.  Mine revealed itself half-way through my third cup while gazing at a polar bear peeking from the cover of a travel anthology.  My body twitched.  My breathing faltered.  I tried desperately not to think of flowing water, but row after row displayed rushing rapids, majestic waterfalls, and winding Amazonian rivers.  Instinctively my feet rushed me to the bathroom until my brain kicked in, reminding me of my half-filled cup, my sole source for more tea and economic superiority.

Alone without a Wingman, my options were limited.  Cutting my losses did not seem feasible; I had at least two more cups of tea left in me and another half-hour before I needed to don my chauffeur’s cap again. Carrying the cup inside the restroom likewise proved unsavory.  Most bathrooms – public or otherwise – possess an unsanitary aura, a gastronomic No Man’s Land, at least for items which you might like to stick into your mouth minutes afterwards.  Crossing the lavatory threshold drink in hand to me is akin to washing the cup with toilet water.

The Robin Hood of book buyers.

The Robin Hood of book buyers.

Few other choices remained.  Relinquishing my plastic chalice on the small table set aside for unpaid merchandise, I went about my business quickly, aware that some conscientious employee might toss my cup. Or worse, defilement.  Literary souls inevitably breed oddity; it’s what makes us so interesting . . .  and dangerous. Immediately I checked the remaining dredges of iced tea for tampering: any unnoticed fingerprint marks, lipstick, or powdery residue – I imagine passing out among the audiobooks only to wake hours later in tub of ice with only one kidney.  Finding no traces, I returned to my browsing and another refill.

An hour and a half later, my cup full once again with tea, three books in hand, I strode to the counter for check out, confident that I had saved myself ten dollars at least of valuable income.  In celebration I added another ten-dollar manga volume to my arm.

Arriving at the counter, I smiled at the cashier, dropping my pile before her, half-wondering if she would be interested in the results of my little science project.

“Hey Miss, did you know that I reduced the cost of six iced teas to nearly fifty-cents per glass.  Whatcha think about that?”  Her eyes glisten.  Her cheeks blush.  Her hands grab hold of my shirt.  As our bodies disappear beneath the counter, the remaining customers shout in unison, “Get a room!”

Or not.

I set the books too close to the sub-counter magnet, which triggered several loud beeps somewhere near the register; the cashier stepped on something near the floor silencing the alarm. Several armed guards and German shepherds shuffle away, disappointed.  Meanwhile she stared at my pile and counted.

“You know,” she said, “if you pick up one more book you can get one of these free.”

“Huh?  What?”

“Buy four get the fifth free,” she said pointing to the various cardboard signs stapled to the shelves around the store.

“Really?!”

I affected some surprise at this, having spent nearly two hours at the bookstore without noticing the words ‘free’ and ‘books’ together.  Then with a quick look at the clock, I took off again towards the children’s lit.  Ten minutes.  If I grab another eight dollar book (the price of my less-expensive purchase), I’ll have essentially just robbed the store.  When people think of me, the word ‘badass’ rarely comes to mind.  Nonetheless, I felt like buying a belt-chain and not recycling my old Snapple bottles.  That’s right, tossing ‘em in with the plastic bags and used iTunes gift cards.  Hardcore . . .   Desperate times, they can bring out the worst in all of us.

Road-ents

Katie called me today with some disturbing news.

“Murph,” she said.  “You know how before I left you warned me about that tick you found on your dashboard today?”

“Yeah,” I responded, recalling the large eight-legged blood-sucker skittering around my volume control, nearing digging into my skin like a mole.  “The parasite was big too.  I nearly crashed into an old woman and half-a-dozen parked cars before I could kill it.”

“Right, well I got off the interstate a moment ago when I felt something crawl along my feet,” Katie told me dramatically.  “I was like ‘Oh my gosh!  A spider! I got a friggin’ wolf-spider in my car.  It’s going to bite me and I’m going to die.’  Guess what it was?”

“I don’t know . . . a tick?”  Frankly I find ticks to be much more frightening than spiders . . . well at least the normal spiders we have around here, which are nowhere near as big as some of the South American varieties.  Those monsters kill birds.  Have you ever seen a spider take down a crow?  If so, I highly recommend the Delmarva area.

“No!  A mouse!” she nearly screamed over the phone.  “A mouse.  In.  My. Car.  And then when I got to BJs to meet Mom, there was another one in the passenger seat, munching on something.  Sitting on its hind legs like it owned the joint.  Murph, my car is infested with mice . . . Stop laughing!”

“Sorry,” I say wiping the tears from my eyes.  “Just be careful on the way home though.  Mice sometimes can chew through wires and stuff.  I don’t know much about your car, but I’m sure some of that must control your brakes, accelerator or your radio, right?”

“Oh thanks, Murph,” Katie sighed.  In the background Mom asks her which brand of trash bags we need.  Kate repeats the question to me.  I tell her the largest brand they sell with handles.  “ . . . yeah, the ones with the blue handles there.  Yeah, those.  Well, you know whose to blame, right?”

“Sean, didn’t necessarily bring the mice in your car, girl.”

Say hello to my little friend . . . “But he’s been driving it for the last few weeks, leaving me with no gas and a backseat full of empty drinks and McDonalds trash.  Mouse treats.  I probably have an ant problem too.  Army ants with my luck.  Or snakes.  Ugh, snakes . . . I’m going to kill him.”

“Well, they would get rid of your mouse problem . . .”

“Uh, thanks but no thanks.  I’ll take my chances with Mickey and Minnie . . .”