Tuesday, January 26, 2016

OMG I've Turned Into One Of Them!

Well, let me tell you about the way she looked
The way she acts and the color of her hair
Her voice was soft and cool, her eyes were clear and bright
But she's not there - "She's Not There", The Zombies 1964
Buggerlugs - "A gibe or friendly term of greeting particularly when one has forgotten somebodies (sic) name - "Ah G'day buggerlugs, what's 'appening - from Wordbook of Australian Idiom Aussie Slang: No Worries! She's Apples! Kerrin P. Rowe

Upper East Side New Yorkers
"Excuse me, sir," I asked the bus driver, "but can you tell me if you stop at 72nd Street?"

He told me. It was a few stops off so I went back to my seat. "You just can't see what stop you are at," I commented to the woman seated next to me. "That's right," she replied, and told me a story about her daughter and her grandchild and a bus in London 100 years ago.

I pretended to listen attentively while I rehearsed in my head the topics I wanted to discuss with my therapist. When the bus pulled into the stop at 72  I nodded  a thank you to the driver, and headed off past the Dakota. Remembering to remember John..

And then it struck me.

OMG, I've turned into one of them. Calling bus drivers "Sir", conversing New York style on a bus - first it is your turn to talk and your unknown travelling companion's to pretend to listen, and after an acceptable time the roles are reversed. The stranger can talk and you can pretend to listen ....

Calling a bus driver "Sir", talking to total strangers, and the therapist. OMG. Even thinking in  acronyms. What have I become?

Not that it is a bad thing to be,  a New Yorker. Look at Bernie Sanders. Feel the Bern! And Michael Bloomburg who might run for President. And that guy with the orange face and the bizarre comb-over Three New Yorkers standing for Prez. It is OUR year.

Then there's Ted Cruz talking disparaging about "New York values". I didn't think New Yorkers HAD values. That's one of the points of being a New Yorker. I didn't understand any of this stuff when I first came here. I found it odd to hear people call the janitor "Sir".

I had understood that "Sir" was an Englishy sort of thing related to knights in shining armour, and peasants tugging forelocks. Clearly it meant something else here.

It is a fill-in polite sort of word when you don't know someone's name. Of course you could say, "Excuse me, driver," to a bus driver. But "Excuse me janitor," would somehow sound impolite.

So we say "Sir". First person plural intended.

In Australia we too have a word for people whose name  we don't know. "Buggerlugs". It is a friendly semi-derogatory thing. Very Aussie. As in "Who brought Buggerlugs?" when referring to a hanger-on at a party. Or, "Will you give this drink to Buggerlugs over there."

A more polite term in OZLand is, "Hey you!" "Hey you, where does this bus stop?"  Or the friendly generic term of address, "mate". Possibly the most polite of our terms of address. Though it can be used to mean its opposite. As in, "Christ mate, who do yer think you are? Keep that up and I'll kill ya. Mate."

But more often than not, the unknown person is not given a name at all. "Where does this bus stop?"

I remember a year or so ago I asked a bus driver in Clifton Hill , Victoria wthether the bus stopped at Lygon Street. He was a Chinese Austalian and possibly a little  deaf. I asked him twice, louder.

Then a fellow passenger - a "digger" piped up, "Don't talk to him luv, he won't answer, he's not an Aussie." Charming.

Buggerlugs,  "Mate" "Hey you." Or not acknowledging a person at all.

On reflection, he man with the orange face and the bizarre comb-over aside, it's pretty good to be a New Yorker!

But lest you get the wrong impression mate, I'm still an Aussie. And  yes I'm talking to you, Buggerlugs!

1 comment:

Andrew Bishop said...

Funny! I would have thought that the US equivalent of 'mate' is 'buddy'? Anyway, bro, we kiwis have our own lingo - and it's choice!

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