A Littleville Dictionary -Addendum

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Thanks to contributions from both native and temporary Littlevillians, we have a brief addendum to the Littleville Dictionary.

Several of these words are not limited to Littleville, but are broader regional expressions.  We don’t claim them as ours exclusively.

One other disclaimer:  I’ve been informed that there is an actual Littleville on the map.  Our apologies to the real Littlevillians.  We are a very real place with the mythical name Littleville. All clear?

reckon – verb; figure, speculate, calculate.  “Reckon what time Dennis’ll get here?  I need those handrails put in.”

tump – verb; tip over, spill, upend.  “Get in the car, Max.  And don’t tump my Diet Mountain Dew!  That’s breakfast.”

Momma and them – noun, pronounced “Momma ‘nem”; Mother and any family residing at or regular visitors to the homeplace.  “Momma and them had some corn for us so we ran by to get it. Uncle Earl and Aunt Helen were there and we ended up staying for dinner.”

dinner – noun; any hot meal eaten from noon to 9:00 p.m.  “After dinner they all had a nap and Carla and I went by The Pig.”

The Pig – noun; franchised but family-feeling grocery store named Piggly Wiggly whose logo is a helpful, enthusiastic pig in a grocer’s hat.  “Swing by The Pig and pick me up some Jiffy mix.  I’ve got to do something with all this corn.”
*The Pig is aware of its own appeal and sells T-shirts with slogans like ‘I dig The Pig’ and ‘What happens at The Pig stays at The Pig.’  And that’s why a grocery store called Piggly Wiggly still works in the 21st century.
*The receipt used to have a pig for all seasons at the top:  a patriotic pig holding a sparkler, a pilgrim pig holding a blunderbuss, and so on.  Alas.

coke – noun; ALL carbonated beverages*.  Period.  “I’ll get you a coke for your headache.  What kind do you want?”
*For some reason, other words for coke – pop, soda, cola – fill us with anxiety and outright hostility.  I apologize for this.
*Important:  This does not include Pepsi.  Some restaurants here have contracted with Pepsi.  We’re not sure why.  Bless their hearts.

Bless Your Heart – Now let me just pause a moment.  Many people have hazarded definitions of this versatile but precise phrase.  It takes a native to use it correctly, though it can be employed in a wide variety of life’s circumstances.  I am treading on holy ground here.  Among other things, it can mean:

You poor thing

I hope it resolves itself

It won’t and you are doomed

Thank goodness it’s you not me

I could have told you this would happen

Well, you tried

Sweet little baby

Um

Hello

Glad to meet you

Goodbye

You are of a younger generation and I don’t know what to say to you

Congratulations!

Well, what do you know?

I feel you

Come here

Intonation changes with each circumstance.  Usages might include:

“Bless your heart, come in!”

“Oh, an iPod, you say?  Well, bless your heart.”

“Bless her heart, and acid reflux on top of it all.”

“Bless your heart!  When’s the happy day?”

“Bless it.  Look at all that hair!”

“Bless your heart.  You just come live with Nana.”

“Well, bless your heart, we all said he was a mess on wheels.”

“Bless his heart.  His mother will never survive this.”

fixin’ – verb; preparing to, getting ready to, just about to.  “I’m fixin’ to get up and get going here in a minute.”
*This one is a common target for mockery, but shouldn’t be.  Try it.

here in a minute – adverb; soon.  See above.

covered up – adjective; busy, overwhelmed.  “Sorry I didn’t get back to you. We’ve been covered up.”

wet/dry – adjective; the county status in terms of alcohol sales. “Don’t tell Momma and them Carla’s daddy voted wet.”
*This one is so charged with emotional freight, that we forget how much it sounds like a diaper report.
*We’re wet now.  Though some would say ‘damp’ and others ‘sodden.’  But during the dry years, many a Littlevillian (me, anyway) witnessed to our amusement the poor interstate traveller stopping off for a hotel room and much anticipated beer.  He would look confused and ask where the beer aisle was, and the BP clerk would say, “We’re dry.”  Maybe it was the clerk’s accent, “Were drah.”   But the thirsty traveller, uncomprehending, would try again, “Where’s the beer?” Whereupon the clerk would repeat, “We’re dry.”  The traveller would begin to work through the implications of this. Incredulity would dawn on his slack face,  “Are you telling me . . .” And he would get back in his car and hit the interstate ramp, apoplectic and shouting at his indefatigable wife, “Can. You. Believe. A. Dry. Town?????”

 A warm Happy New Year to you and yours!

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A Littleville Dictionary

 LV dictionary pages 001

Have I mentioned that Andrew and I love Littleville?  18 years in, and one child born here, we are so at home we’ve picked our cemetery.  When the kids became old enough, we would leave them for an hour or so on sun-spangled Saturday afternoons for a motorcycle date – a free and glorious ride down county roads that smelled of earth and looked like heaven.   Gradually our motorcycle dates took the same road every time – past the gun club and stone house, a wave at the turn to Dale and Christie’s, across the low bridge in the curve, through the four-way that got hit hard by the tornado, and up the gravel path to the hilltop cemetery marked with a wrought-iron sign.  It was a peaceful place to talk and wander.

Those dates are on hiatus for now because one Moto Guzzi motorcycle is worth a few months of college tuition.  But I am not complaining.  The memories are close to perfect.

Meanwhile, because I am Littlevillian enough to plan to be buried here, I feel qualified to compile a list of local terms and usages that newcomers need to know.

comeapart – noun;  meltdown, tantrum.  “Skylar had a comeapart at Walmart because I wouldn’t buy him a Minecraft Lego set.”

complete comeapart – noun; total and complete meltdown. “Skylar had a complete comeapart when I told him that because of his comeapart I was taking the batteries out of his RC Nano-Falcon helicopter and keeping them.”

ill – adjective; pronounced ‘eel’, in a bad humor, grouchy, bad tempered.  “Skylar was just ill, so we went on back to the house.”

ideal – noun; idea, plan, scheme.  “My ideal was to put the Christmas tree to the right of the window and decorate it in all Auburn.”
*This is so accepted a way to say ‘idea’ that a series of hardbound ‘how to’ craft books at the library is entitled ‘Christmas Ideals.’

squall – verb; cry loudly, vehemently, or with great emotion.  “I just squalled and squalled overThe Notebook.”

tickled – adjective; highly pleased, glad.  “We are so tickled that y’all have been part of the whole wedding weekend.”
*This word is perfectly acceptable for an adult man to use and lose none of his virile masculinity.  It’s endearing.  Usually preceded by ‘so,’ it is pronounced ‘sa tickled.’

carry – verb;  to take or bring a person by vehicle.  “I carried Misty to the drug store to get a humidifier for the baby.”
*This one takes a little getting used to because to the uninformed it seems that the speaker is bodily carrying Misty, when in reality it is a vehicular carry.

rotten – adjective; spoiled, bratty.  “He’s just rotten.”
*This adjective is reserved for male toddlers and is used by grandmothers and mothers.  With pride.

‘I don’t care to’I don’t mind.  Though it looks the opposite, this phrase signifies compliance and willingness.  “I don’t care to babysit.  What time?”

Decoration – noun; one of four Sundays in May in which descendants converge on the rural family church and change out the flowers on the graves of ancestors.  Dinner on the grounds and hymnsings accompany this warm reunion.  “Pastor Andrew,   we can’t have our covered dish that day.  It’s Decoration!!”

mash – verb; push, press.  “I mashed the button, but nothing happened!”  “Well, mash it again!”

proud – adjective; glad, happy.  “Thanks for carrying Mother to Belk’s for the Red Dot Special.”  “Oh, I was proud to do it.”

‘s – The possessive ‘s’ is added liberally to businesses whose names end in a consonant, i.e. Belk’s, Walmart’s, Kmart’s, Shogun’s, etc.  This makes perfect sense and needs no defense.

evening – noun; afternoon.  “We ‘ll go this evening around 3:00.”

set – verb; sit.  “My glasses were setting right on the counter by the Shopper’s Guide.”  “Don’t leave your dirty dishes setting in the break room.”

giveout – adjective; exhausted, done in, faint from hunger.  “I was giveout from ball.”

ball – noun; baseball, softball.  Pronounced ‘mbaw’, this word encompasses the whole of the sport from Park and Rec to high school, from tryouts to final series, to practices, travel ball, tourneys, the whole package.  It is never confused with any other ball sport.  ‘Ball’ refers to a season, to a life.  “This’ll be my last Girls’ Night because ball starts.”

the beach – noun; Gulf Shores, Alabama.  There are no other beaches.  “We’re off Monday, so we’re going to the beach.  We are taking Tyler’s little girlfriend.”

little girlfriend/little boyfriend – noun; teenaged girlfriend or boyfriend.  Under 20, one’s steady dating partner is referred to as ‘little’ no matter their size.  “Jaylyn’s little boyfriend is starting at center this year.  He’s precious.”

This partial list is offered with joy and humility and the knowledge that lifelong Littlevillians will be puzzled over it.  What, they will ask, is odd about these words, or worthy of note?

What indeed?

Rosa Parks and 87,451 College Football Fans

Perhaps the only thing connecting Rosa Parks with 87,451 Auburn and Texas  A & M football fans is that I encountered them both on the same day, an exquisite November day made for SEC football and an early morning run through the dew-damp Montgomery downtown. Somehow, though, at the end of the full day, on a late night drive up Highway 280, getting the preacher home so he could sleep and preach a sermon the next morning, Rosa and the almost 90,000 people at Jordan-Hare stadium seemed linked.

Let me back up a day to Friday.  Parents of athletes are used to driving to their children’s far-flung sporting events.  Parents of kids at little Christian schools that play 6-man football are used to redefining the word ‘far-flung.’   Three hours is a starting point, so off we went packed for our son’s state championship game, totally being that family we said we never would.  Hard-core.  Some dear friends had reserved us a hotel room for the night so we could go right over to the Auburn/Texas A & M game the next morning.  So here we were, the Littles of Littleville, unloading our coffee-making apparatus, and walking into the soaring atrium, fountains, wait-staff, and amenities of a high-end hostelry.  Having declined valet parking and strapped with bag and baggage, I walked through the revolving door and smack into, yes!, one of Texas A & M’s massive linebackers.  I called a cheerful hello to him and told him I would see him tomorrow.  He smiled, but his Beats I’m sure muted my fan-chatter. Mind you, I’m an Auburn fan, but hey, football mystique is real even though the players are 19 years old and probably from Littlerville than my Littleville.

So there he stood in team sweats, backpack, mellow smile, and 65 more just like him headed into the banquet hall which had been decorated with the Aggie maroon (with a tinge of eggplant) and black and no doubt served these man-children AYCE porterhouses and french fries.   The chef in his recognizable kitchen shirt moved through the hall ensuring the players’ dining satisfaction. Men in suits on cell phones directed the players into dinner and maintained this vast machine of human beings called a college football team. Food for thought there.  At one giddy point, I was wedged on an elevator with 7 members of the defensive line plus a coach.  I couldn’t help myself, but began talking.  I told them I would pray for their safety and for their mothers who would be worrying about them.  Again, the Beats (intentionally) hindered conversation.  Unfortunately, my prayers were answered and they won the nail-biter football game the next day with no injuries. Teach me!

I am going somewhere with all this.  Hang with me.

As for my son’s championship game, the opposing team was named Victory.  And they made sure we could spell it.

The next morning the breakfast area was 98% maroon and black in every variation of boot, vest, scarf, custom leather coat, ditto shoes, western-yoked shirt, and felt hat.  It was like finding myself in a stranger’s living room at their family reunion. Or being at another church during prayer time – none of the names mean anything.  But then here came the talent; 65 sweat-suited Aggies, having had blessed, uninterrupted sleep (my son and his best friend decided not to pull the fire alarm after all), a herd of bacon, a generation of eggs, and an orchard of citrus, were now deferentially herded to the 8 luxury buses at the curb for the hour ride to the “Loveliest Village on the Plains.”IMG_0724

But what about Rosa?   During all this moonstruckness, we tied on our Nikes and headed out into the 48 degree morning to run to the Capitol.  Oh, the urban run!  How different from LIttleville.  And, oh, the unanticipated treasures!  I am a plaque person, to my family’s chagrin.  One block in, and a plaque stopped me cold announcing that this was the route that slaves would walk in chains from the river to the auction house.  Game changer, that.  A block further at a beautiful cobbled square and fountain a plaque informed us that this was the site of several auction houses and slave warehouses.  The mind tries to reconcile then and now and can’t.  And then, in one shady corner of the square I encountered Rosa’s bus stop.  There it was, the very spot she stood, weary from a day’s work and with all her own house work ahead of her.  If ever time travel was possible I longed for it then. To watch her.  Had she thought a million times, “Tomorrow, I won’t get up. Tomorrow when he tells me to move, I won’t,” and finally tomorrow came?  Or was it completely spontaneous, a split-second decision?  Is the conversation recorded by any witness? A man said some variation of “Move.” And she said some variation of “No.”

We moved on.  I touched the etched marble slab that commemorated the march from Selma to Montgomery that ended right here at the Capitol.  We Rocky-Balboaed up the marble steps and jumped the victory jump at the top.  The only people who saw us were the hoodied, DOT-vested construction workers. We admired the statue of my husband’s distant relative Jefferson Davis, though later my son would say it looked like Benedict Cumberbatch to him.  It was no doubt the caped coat.

But Rosa stayed on my mind.  Because if I wished I could time-travel to watch her, what if she time-traveled to see me?  I wondered what she would think of my last few hours.  I had fan-worshiped 19-year-old college students.  I had sat at breakfast among custom-leather-clad men and women who had money to spare and we shared smiles and have-a-good-games. I watched one couple from my hotel window, on the very Via-Dolorosa their ancestors walked in chains, exchange laughs with friends, load up their SUVs and head out to cheer on their sons and their alma mater.  Again, the mind tries to reconcile then and now and fails.

And the 87,451?  What is their connection to Rosa?  The Loveliest Village on the Plains, at least the campus, is indeed lovely.  From our perch in section 57, row 10, seats 1 – 4, we had a view of the slanting sun turning the brown rooftops gold all around us. 85,000 wore orange and blue, and made those colors look good. Impressive.  To be a part of that many people wearing the same colors and with one goal in mind – protect this house – was thought-provoking.  Rosa might find it interesting that the music they used to get 87,451 people on their feet, either in approval or outrage, was rap and hip hop.  A low-sounding synthesizer pulled at our blood and obligated us to get to our feet and scream at the intruder in the house. “Turn down for what?” compelled the home team on a third down to maintain its level of ferocious, competitive play.  Or so I gathered.  And when, on the first completed pass, I opened my mouth to proclaim my approval, a 90,000-strong roar came out of my mouth. It was startling and powerful.

And that’s the connection to Rosa.  She opened her mouth and a roar 90,000-strong came out.  I don’t trivialize her action at all in comparing it to a football crowd roaring approval or condemnation collectively.  They are saying to the enemy, “You shall not pass!”  She, too, was protecting her house.  She was saying, “You shall not pass.  You shall not encroach on my humanity anymore!”

Highway 280 north at 10:00 on a Saturday night is late and far from home for a preacher.  It’s a rare Saturday that finds us ranging that far from Littleville.  But we made it back in a van crowded with two sleeping boys, Rosa Parks, and 87,451 football fans.