Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What are the Huron to do?

Everyone has their secret language with the people who know them best. Phrases, words, inflections that mean something only to them. It's part of how we feel connected. Whether it is referencing a specific memory of an event or saying something with, for instance, on outrageously bad French accent, we reinforce our ties to one another with cues about our history together.

My oldest friend and I can dissolve into a fit of giggles if one of us says, "Follow that Bug!" because that's all it takes to evoke a long ago escapade we embarked on together.

I sometimes listen to instrumental music while getting things done. I can't just put my iPod on shuffle because changing music tends to hold my attention. Instrumental music blends into the background and helps promote thought rather than demanding focus. I'd love to claim that I listen to the great composers, but I don't do that frequently, instead I tend to have the musical soundtracks for movies that I've liked. Why? I don't know. Again, classical music is something I tend to focus upon, soundtracks just exist in the background, pretty much by design.

Long ago when I met my husband I was listening to a soundtrack while compiling a project.

"What is this?" My now-husband asked.

"It's the soundtrack to Last of the Mohicans."

My now-husband didn't know me all that well at the time and said, "I didn't think you liked cheesy romances."

I stared at him for a moment. Let's see, was the scene of Magua ripping out the heart of his enemy cheesy? Or the scene of Chingachgook practically vivisecting Magua what he thought was coated in fromage?

"Huh?" I replied, because no one speaks eloquently all the time.

"Stay alive, I will find you!" He quoted. "Talk about drippy."

"You've never actually seen the movie, have you?" He confirmed that he had not. I downed tools, went in search of the DVD and sat my action-adventure-loving then-boyfriend down for a viewing party. As it happens there are a lot of cheesy elements to the movie, but it's visually gorgeous, and it's actually rather violent.

"God, this is hardcore." My husband said, staring at a scene I'd rather not describe seeing as I don't have a mature rating on this blog. The movie segued into one of its cheesier moments when poor doomed Duncan translates the Chief at a speed only seen in movies, and envied by those who work for the United Nations.

"What are the Huron to do?" Soon-to-be-crispy Duncan translates at a breakneck pace, and in a very amusing French accent. My then-boyfriend started laughing and parroting him.

"What are ze Uron tu dew? What ARE ze URON tu DEW?", and then Duncan meets his incredibly grisly fate and that shut him up as effectively as throwing a switch. He switched tones, "Gaaaaaahhhhh! Don't mess with the Huron!! Don't mess with the Huron! The Hurons get things done!!"

Now over a decade later, we still say that to each other when trying to accomplish something. It doesn't really fit with the scene in the movie, but it's one of our points of connection. That personal shorthand we work out with the people who know us best.

Every October a blog called Tomato Nation rallies together and helps to fund public school projects through an organization called Donors Choose and I was fortunate enough to participate last year. Here's the funny thing, I don't read Tomato Nation. That's not any kind of judgment on my part, it's a good site, but there are only so many hours in any given day. I found the drive through a blog that is now defunct, but I still read Velcrometer, the blog of a humor writer whose work I've always liked.

It's a great feeling to be able to participate, but I understand that not everyone can. Still, it's a fun thing to check out because people get together, address the problem of under funded classrooms, and make a difference together. Shorthand on the internet for getting things done, and all that.

We all feel a little bit lost sometimes. We have things come up, we aren't sure how to solve some problems. Life is sometimes a difficult path, but there are other things that come up, things that make us feel as if hurdles can be taken on, and put behind us.

When I found that another blog I read was linking to TN's efforts, I went to my husband, who is the family accountant. He loves this project. Like me, he is a fan of direct impact charities. We're fortunate people, and grateful to be so, and we try to make a difference in the ways that we can.

Even if you can't participate, check it out. It's just amazing to see the "Project Funded" icon put in place through the efforts of people banding together to bring a problem down.

Sometimes we all feel helpless to our problems, and sometimes we get to feel as if no effort is wasted.

"Remember that school funding organization?" I asked my husband, as I entered his home office. He was busy doing something, I'm not sure what. He was playing music, the kind with those distracting lyrics, I don't know how he gets anything done.

"Hmmm." He answered, then he turned around and said, "Oh yeah, I do. Well, What are the Huron to do?"

Our personal shorthand. Sometimes we also say, "Release the Kraken!" and sometimes we actually communicate in fully intelligible sentences, just not in this instance. We'd been discussing a budget for this last month, and that we had done in actual, understandable English.

"Be the Halloween Cat, just be him." I answered because when you get right down to it, I married the right guy.

By a lot.

14 comments:

The Bug said...

I was just getting ready to stalk you because I thought "hmmm - Shimp hasn't been around - or at least not around when I've been around (& it's all about me)" ;)

I love hearing about other people's shorthand phrases. We have a few in our household too. Maybe I'll do a post myself one day.

I like the idea of the charity. I'll have to check it out.

Kathryn said...

Ours is "Wanta buy a duck?" Long story.

I like direct impact charities, too. Will check this out.

Alane, i like your writing so much. You follow an interesting, logical story-telling pattern that simply flows so well.

Ahh, brain fog setting in. Have a lovely day. :)

Miss OverThinker said...

Even though I replied back to your comment on my blog just wanted to say it again there: thanks so much for your kind, encouraging and understanding words..
got to say I love the way you write, the way you tell all your stories.. and unlike The Bug I actually have been stalking you and am usually one of the very first ones to read your posts..

Pauline said...

lol! I will be asking that question now... what are ze Uron tu dew?

I have a friend who says "whales" whenever she wants to change the subject suddenly. I know that she is about to depart in a radical way from whatever we have been discussing. (Whales are large, after all...)

Land of shimp said...

Isn't it funny, The Bug? We all have those shorthand phrases, and they almost mean more to us (speaking strictly for myself) when they carry little to no meaning with other people. It's just proof of an "Us", whether it's with a spouse, boyfriend, friend, family member.

Hehe, I love the fact that in the blogosphere telling someone you've been stalking them is about the highest compliment you can pay :-)

By the way, I recently figured out that your icon photo is from the "bug's eye view". Very clever! Sorry it took me an eon to figure out!

Thank you so much, Kathryn. That really does mean a lot to me. I like your phrase, it made me laugh without even knowing what it means.

One of the reasons I like direct impact charities is that you absolutely know that there is an action/reaction. We've got the charities we just write checks to, but it's a different feeling knowing, "This dollar goes specifically towards THIS."

Thank you, Miss Over Thinker. I'll reply over on your blog, but please know that I'm very grateful that anything I said was helpful :-) Also, again, I love that in blogs there's a pretty, ironic meaning to stalking. It's kind of like blog shorthand, isn't it?

Ha! I love the variation of the "How 'bout them Cubs?" of old that your friend uses! Again, there's an intimacy in understanding the quirky phrases we share with each other.

I know my husband, in one of the instances he told me about, accidentally said that to his assistant not that terribly long ago.

He received the blankest of stares in return. As if she was waiting to hear what the Huron were going to actually do.

He changed the subject, but presumably not to "Whales".

Amy said...

Great story Alane! Last of the Mohicans is one of my most favorite films mostly because of Daniel Day Lewis if truth be told. My husband actually read the book recently!

As to secret language, don't you think it's not just the actual words, but the tone that makes it a special connection? Personally I love the idea that we can have a secret language that no one else can appreciate, except maybe the dog.

And because my husband is mostly Italian, he is quite animated and shall I say loud sometimes, thankfully, mostly in a good way!

I checked your links and I like the idea of helping the kids directly in the classroom. I'm going to spend some time figuring out where I want to spend some helping dollars, so thanks for that.

I have to share that this morning I was shelving picture books in the juvenile section of the library and having a grand time laughing at titles and such. One was about a moose on the loose - it just tickled me!

Jennifer D said...

This post cracked my up!:O)
My husband and I also use "shorthand phrases" but I think more often we sing lyrics that apply such as when having a rough day my husband will sing "mama never said there'd be days like this... strange days indeed"

and then I'll sing "mama said there'd be days like this...there'd be days like this my mama said".
Sometimes we are amazed at how many lyrics we can apply in one day.

I related with this post in several ways... I LOVE Last of the Mochicans, movie and soundtrack.
I truly enjoyed this one, thanks.

Release the Kraken!

PhilipH said...

Strange; I read this post about five days ago but cannot see my comment! I don't understand; maybe I dreamt it or sumfink?

When I lived in the east wing of Mellerstain it was standard practice to blame Lady Grisel Baillie for any mishaps, odd occurrences, bumps in the night and suchlike stuff. 'Grisel Baillies about' was the usual comment. Her ghostly wanderings caused it all: false burglar alarms, fire alarms going off in the dead of night, stairs creaking at midnight etc., etc.

I developed an set of acronyms with my young son Graham. One was: "Do you want a backward TOE" for breakfast? The first time I asked him this he asked me what I was on about and I explained that I was asking if he wanted 'Egg On Toast' and he twigged it that EOT backwards was TOE. He enjoyed these silly games.

I shall now press PUBLISH COMMENT. If it just disappears again then old Grisel Baillie is in my cottage now!

Land of shimp said...

Oh, I missed comments! I'm sorry!

Hello Amy! I absolutely agree, it is partially about the inflection, isn't it? I really do think we have a secret language with the people we know, and love best, and they with us. Tones, songs, heck my husband can say, "Mar...CONEY Grill." to me, and I'll start laughing.

Helllllloooo Jennifer :-) Thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I like the movie also, and of course it now has a special meaning to us.

Philip, there you are! I thought you had forsaken me :-) I mourned, of course, but then decided to rise up, and somehow soldier through the life left to me.

I kid, I kid (I always like kidding you). I love the story about your son, and do know, I understood what TOE backwards was before you explained "Oh, egg on toast!" and then felt utterly delighted when I turned out to be right :-)

You see? Your comments help share delight.

In fact, you're all delightful people, and thank you for commenting!

Barry said...

"The Last of the Mohicans" pops up so often on TV or the music gets heard so frequently that my wife has come to believe there is no "Last" to the Mohicans. They will go on forever.

Land of shimp said...

Barry, hello :-) and that's marvelous!! "Despite all indicators to the contrary, the Mohicans at last achieved unexpected longevity. Never throw in the towel, Mohicans, never throw in the towel!"

Thanks for the comment :-)

Anonymous said...

David said...

Ours is "Wanta buy a duck?" Long story. I like direct impact charities, too. Will check this out. Alane, i like your writing so much. You follow an interesting, logical story-telling pattern that simply flows so well. Ahh, brain fog setting in. Have a lovely day. :)

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