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Monday, February 4, 2013

The Demise of Yeahbut

I think I'm a pretty fun Mom.

Besides the usual silliness, I engage in some "off the cuff" kind of silly stuff, like making up limericks, or silly lyrics to songs.

This is nothing, NOTHING, like what my Dad did, though.

He was a storyteller extraordinaire.

For example, I clearly remember sitting around the table when we were living Italy,
openmouthed and breathless,
while my Dad would regale Richard and I with stories about a naughty boy named Larry Landers.

Oh, Larry Landers was every child's secret hero.
He was disrespectful. He broke the rules. He got himself into all kinds of scrapes and managed somehow, with wily cunning, to escape scot-free every time.

Oh, how I loved Larry Landers stories. I probably developed a crush on the boy from my Dad's youth as I listened to my Dad spin his tales.

I'm sure there are kernels of truth in the stories. Maybe Larry is real, maybe he's an amalgam of several friends from his boyhood. Either way, they were thoroughly entertaining.

Then, there were stories or tricks used to alter our sorry-ass teenage speaking habits.

Like most teens, we went through a long extended phase in which EVERY DAMN THING WE SAID SOUNDED LIKE A QUESTION.

(Me: "So then Lisa said Let's go to the Mall? And so we did? And then we saw this rack of jeans on sale? So we bought some?"  Dad: BANGS HEAD ON TABLE REPEATEDLY.)

So my Dad proceeded to parrot back everything we said. In a question. In an undeniably obnoxious way.

Yes, it got the job done.

We stopped saying that, as well as saying "like" ie: "and then I was like running to school..."
We also stopped saying "he goes" or "she went" ie: "and then she went 'wanna go to the mall?' and I went 'Yes!'"

The jewel in his crown, though, has to lie with the tragic death of Yeahbut.
This will stay with me forever. In fact, I was just telling Trey this story the other day.

Richard and I had both developed the habit of saying "Yeah, but..." to just about everything. I'm sure it must have driven both my parents completely up a wall after a while.

They tried to get us to stop.
Corrected us, commanded us, mocked us.
None of the usual tricks worked.

Until one day when we were many feet above the ground in an airplane, flying over the Gulf of Mexico.
Suddenly, there was the sharp inhalation of breath from my Dad, eyes wide and staring out the window at the shiny body of water below.
"OH NO!!!!!!!!!!" cried my Dad.

Panic stricken, my brother and I ask "What? WHAT? WHAT HAPPENED?!" as we shoved and craned our necks for a peek at the water below.

"It's YEAHBUT!" my Dad exclaimed. "He has jumped from the plane and plummeted into the water below! YEAHBUT has drowned in the Gulf of Mexico! YEAHBUT IS NO MORE!!!"

Richard and I stared at each other in silent confusion.
What? Yeahbut was real? Yeahbut is no more?
Moments later, we broke out into peals of laughter. Even as kids, we recognized the cleverness of this trick my Dad was playing.

And play it he did.
Every single time "yeah but" came out of our mouths, we were instantly halted by cries of "He's dead! He drowned in the Gulf of Mexico!"
And how could you argue with that? So Yeahbut met his watery demise and we learned other phrases to express ourselves.

Well played, Dad. Well played.

1 comment:

HynesMom said...

Love it! Can't imagine it working with my son - he would get upset and angry at me. But I love it! Your dad was a genius!