Friday, February 12, 2010

My native vocabulary

After a lovely chat with a friend last night, I had a realization about my childhood: it was quirky. Not bizarre or difficult or memoir-worthy, but certainly a little different from most of my friends. My childhood was out of sync with its time. For example, here are some words that I grew up using that most people have had few opportunities to use:
  • Root Cellar (as in "I need to go down to the root cellar to get some potatoes for dinner.")
  • Draft horses (as in "Tom and Jerry are the good team of draft horses; that damn Lady is too stubborn to work with another horse.")
  • 2-room schoolhouse (as in "I was one of twelve kids in my 2-room schoolhouse. It was really heart-breaking when that school had to close.")
  • Cork boots, often called corks (as in the sign on the front door of the restaurant where my mother worked: "Please remove your corks before entering the building.")
  • Bookmobile (as in "I wish the bookmobile came more frequently than every two weeks. I only checked out 55 books last time, and I had to read The Odyssey when I ran out.")
  • Gypo logger (as in "My dad likes being a gypo logger better than working for one of those big companies, especially since he lost his job in Alaska.")
And in the midst of using all these words, words that colored my life with a certain turn-of-the-century (and I mean the 20th century) tint, I was going to my friend's house and playing Nintendo games. Some of those 55 books (one record stack, checked out in the heart of summer doldrums, contained 125 books) were Sweet Valley High and the rest were probably Dean Koontz and Charles de Lint. We had a VCR. I listened to Milli Vanilli, Motley Crue and Paula Abdul on my cassette player. We even watched tv--although reception was so bad we had to imagine the people weren't purple and sometimes we lost audio in a flurry of static.

So I primarily feel like an ordinary child of the late-80s. But at times, I feel a kinship to the people of a generation or even two generations before my own. It's as if they speak my native tongue, a language I have almost forgotten but can still recall a few odd words.

1 comment:

Jak said...

I feel the same way.