Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Booger Man

It's "The Boogey Man", Mom
I grew up in Northeast Louisiana. Not Cajun country. Most people have the impression that all of Louisiana is Cajun, but it isn't. Louisiana is like two different states. Two totally different cultures. From the middle of the state north to Arkansas is more like Mississippi, Arkansas, or Tejas. At least culturally. I grew up eating what you would normally associate with southern cooking. Fried chicken, rice and gravy, greens, cornbread, etc. Stuff like that.

From the middle of the state southward to the Gulf, is where the Cajun culture dominates. Etouffee. Boiled Crawfish. Stuff like that. The whole, French speaking, Catholic, Mardi Gras culture. Of course there's lots of cross pollination going on there, transplants from one culture to the other, but in general, that's the way Louisiana divides up culturally.

My parents were pretty much simple, hard working country folks. They both worked incredibly hard all of their lives and sacrificed so much for us kids. My Mom though, is one of those people who is funny without trying to be. She just comes up with the funniest sayings and does some of the kookiest things. If she doesn't know a proper colloquialism for the moment, she just makes one up on the spot. So, she's this sweet, funny, hard working woman that we all love and respect, but we also can't wait to see what'll come out of her mouth next.

Then there's me. One of my life-long issues is that I over analyze things and sometimes cannot mentally make the leap from words I hear to what I should know to be true. But as a kid, with less experience to draw on, this resulted in many mistakes. For example, I'm not always good at getting puns. When I hear words, I assign meaning to them, and if there are other meanings, someone often has to point them out. Not a big problem, but one that has left me scratching my head from time to time and missing the punch line of many a joke. But I digress.

My Mom being who she is and me being who I am can end up being a strange combination. You know how every region, especially the south, has such different words for things? Different ways of expressing ideas? Like "Mama, I'm fixin' to go to the store...". Or "Hey, looks like it might rain." Response: "I reckon it maht" or maybe "I 'spect it maht."

So, here's this small child (me) in north Louisiana with his mother, and the kid plays a joke on his mother. Mom says to me (in good humor) "Booger Man's gonna git yoo!"

Booger Man? Hmmm. (How will my young mind process this new creature?)

All my life, to my mother, when life owed me a spanking (usually when I scared a few years of her life off of her) this retribution was invariably supposed to be delivered by the mythical "Booger Man". Then, the first time I heard someone say something about the "Boogey Man", I was like, who the heck is this "Boogey Man?" Could he be kinda like Mom's Booger Man? I was too embarrassed to ask. I knew intuitively this would result in, "Hey, John doesn't know who the Boogey Man is!" jokes. Silence has always been my policy in the face of uncertainty and/or impending embarrassment. Still is. But the fact of the two terms differing by only one letter was a co-inkidink too big for even me to miss.

There was a girl I went to grade school with that continuously, for all the time I knew her, had a runny nose. Not the clear, quick-running snot, it was the thick green slow-motion-dripping kind of boogers she had. We avoided her like she was dripping bubonic plague. So in my mind that was a REAL booger, and by my childhood logic, the Booger Man must be just a gi-normous green slimy booger that will get you, like the Blob in the original movie The Blob.

When I finally realized that the Boogey Man was what my Mom was talking about, I pictured a different creature. A movie type monster, hairy with claws and fangs and such. And man is this guy fast! He could run me down in nothing flat.

The Booger Man never really scared me, I felt I could always outrun him. But after I knew the Booger Man was my Mom's term for the Boogey Man, I knew I should be afraid. Like that old Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs gets away from Elmer Fudd by walking over a cliff and onto air. Until, that is, Elmer explains to Buggs what gravity is, and after he knows, Buggs can no longer walk on air.

Yeah, just like that. I have good reason to be afraid of the Boogey Man, the Booger Man I can outrun.

Some Things I Don't Miss...
*Alcoholic beverages - I drank my lifetime allotment between the ages of 15 and 19. Now that I don't want to get drunk, I have no use for it. It smells bad to me and tastes bad too. Always did hate the taste, but oh the foolish choices of my youth. My father used to say that God watches out for fools and little children. Maybe I survived that period because I was both at the same time.
*Vinyl records - From the moment I started buying CDs, I never looked back. I still don't, and there are actually people out there who are vinyl snobs. Go figure. Give me a CD any day.
*8-Track Tapes - Of course my favorite song on most of these straddled two tracks and I had to suffer through the 'track change' song interruption every time I listened to them.

1 comment:

Qtpies7 said...

My wierd mom used to torture the dog by threatening her with the "boogie cat." Its was pretty funny! We cat-sat a giant orange striped cat, and our pomeranian was so afraid on him that she called it the boogie cat, and would say "watch out or the boogie cat will get you." and the dog would run in circles trying to find a place to hide!