Georgia hates it when I drop my aphorisms, axioms, and proverbs on her, or any of the little sayings I grew up hearing, such as “can’t (pronounced ‘kaint’) never could” or “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” or “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” or “everywhere you go there you are.” I don’t think it’s the intent of the phrases she’s opposed to, really, but more the fact that she doesn’t understand them.
She fails to appreciate the conciseness of the sayings, the way your brain has to slow down when you hear them the for first time, to concentrate while traversing their short distance. It’s like crossing stones in a creek bed.
Georgia has the patience of someone who’s never even had to pop popcorn on the stove and the mental endurance of a kid who’s spent seventeen years making those intellectual sprints from She-Ra to Laguna Beach. In other words, I usually have to explain the sayings to her, for which she has no patience. She’s plenty smart; it’s just—like I said—she doesn’t appreciate the beauty. She considers my sayings outdated and useless. She believes I should be punished for them.
I realize that’s a lot of background for this tiny story I’m about to tell, but it provides context.
Not too long ago, Chik-Fil-A was going through this phase where they’d chat you up when you came to the drive-thru speaker. You’d pull up to the menu and hear, “Hi! I’m Michael! What’s your name?!” It was most surprising and annoying. I didn’t care what the voice’s name was; I just wanted to get Lo’s kid’s meal with four Polynesian sauces and get home in time for Dr. Phil.
After enduring this routine a few times, I'd had enough. One day, when asked, “What’s your name?!” I replied, just as I used to on the playground at Powder Springs Elementary School thirty-five years ago, “Puddin’ Tane.” Then I laughed my ass off on my way to the window, where, as I turned over the money, I saw no fewer than five shocked and curious teenaged faces, crowding to get a peek at me.
Home again, I told Biggy the story, bragging about how funny I am, to which he responded, “You said WHAT?!”
“I said Puddin Tane,” I repeated. “A mean little grade-school response to their stupid marketing ploy. I still don’t understand why they were looking at me--”
Biggy cut me short with, “POONTANG?!
“NO! Puddin’ Tane! Don’t be an idiot!”
“What in the hell is puddin’ tane?” he asked.
“You remember.” I felt like I was speaking a different language. I sang the old rhyme for him: ‘what’s-your-name-Puddin’-Tane—ask-me-again-and-I’ll- tell-you-the-same…’
He stated smugly, “I’ve never heard that. I guarantee they thought you said Poontang.”
I was upset—and sure he was wrong, that everyone had heard what’s-your-name-puddin’-tane, the same way they’d all heard ring-around-the-rosies. I certainly didn’t like the thought of all those minors scrambling to see the pervy lady who said the other thing.
So I found Georgia and related the story from the top, still managing to muster up a chuckle over my spiteful, yet innocent, little retort—Puddin’ Tane. That would teach them to ask my name. Then I noticed Georgia wasn’t laughing. In fact, she was shaking her head--her expression, horrified.
She eventually managed to speak: “WHY WOULD YOU SAY POONTANG?”