One Thousand Words on Heather-isms

I have always picked up sayings fairly easily. If I hang around with someone for a while, I’ll probably end up using the same words or phrases that they use. Especially if they use them frequently.

Over the years I have put together quite the odd assortment of expressions. Sometimes I forget how strange some of these saying sound because I use them so much.

For instance, last week, our house manager for our school day matinee series was talking to me about a show. We had only sold 500 tickets and the youngest kids attending were fifth graders so told her the morning was going to be “easy peasy.”

Apparently not everyone says “easy peasy” because she came in today to say that she’d never heard the phrase before and she couldn’t get it out of her head. She liked it.

I told her the complete saying is “easy peasy, bright and breezy” which she liked even more. She even used it before she left for the day.

It made me think that I should share some of these gems. Here are a few I use on a regular basis:

JEEZ LUIGI

I’ve used Jeez Louise most of my life. I don’t know where it came from. I can’t remember anyone specifically using the phrase in my youth, but I must have heard it somewhere.

Then one day I was watching an episode of the Friends spinoff Joey (yes, I’m admitting to watching Joey. I didn’t like it, but I was trying to be loyal to the actors, support them in their post-Friends career. Luckily Joey didn’t last long.)

In the episode, one of the characters said “Jeez Luigi.” I suppose it was to remind the viewers that the family was Italian.

In this case, it wasn’t prolonged exposure that inserted a phrase into my repertoire. It was a conscious effort to use it repeatedly until it stuck.

I don’t know why the saying appeals to me. I guess it’s because it’s different, unexpected. And it makes me sound like I have a more interesting ethnic background that I really have.

GOOD GRAVY

Once you start using “good gravy” you’ll never want to start.

I picked up this phrase years ago from a college acquaintance / theater buddy named Chris.

I wasn’t close to Chris at all, other than doing shows with him, and I didn’t really stay in touch with any college theater people after graduation.

But I do have these photo-like memories of a lot of those folks.

A guy singing “The world was moving, she was right there with it, yes she was” in the hallway while we waited to go into class.

Another guy yelling “You’re hot, Heather” from the grid while focusing lights. (For the record, he meant I was standing in the light’s hot spot, not that I was good looking. I wasn’t good looking at all. I’m still not.)

A girl executing a giant sign of the cross in front of someone instead of saying “God bless you” when they sneezed.

This same girl used to say, “Fuck me gently with a chainsaw” or something to that effect. That’s one phrase I never picked up.

My “photo” of Chris is him saying “good gravy.”

BALLS AND FISHHOOKS

This is my all-time favorite swear.

If you’re thinking that it’s not a swear, I once saw Gwyneth Paltrow on Inside the Actor’s Studio and she said her favorite swear word is balls. If she called just balls a swear, then balls and fishhooks is too.

I got this phrase from my mother, although I have no idea where she picked it up.

I have it in my head that she once told me she started saying it when she was getting a divorce. I don’t know if she really did say that, or if I made that up to explain the phrase.

Either way, it’s kind of funny. And it usually makes guys wince when I say it in front of them.

IT’S A PLAN, NEIL or IT’S A DEAL, STAN

I started by using the reverse of these sayings. “It’s a plan, Stan” and “It’s a deal, Neil.”

There’s no interesting origin there. It just rhymed.

Then one day I was feeling perverse and switched it around. It makes no sense, and nine times out of ten when I say “it’s a plan, Neil” or “it’s a deal, Stan”” people look at me like I’m crazy. Like they think I actually believe their name is Neil or Stan.

I don’t. I’m just going for the non-rhyme.

OKEY DOKEY ARTICHOKEY

This may be the phrase I employ the most.

I started saying “okey dokey artichokey” when I saw a documentary (or maybe I was reading a biography) that said Hilary Clinton used the phrase.

I picture Mrs. Clinton sitting around a table with heads of state for important peace talks or negotiations. And to call the meeting to order she claps her hands and says, “Okey dokey artichokies. Let’s get down to business.”

I wonder if okey dokey artichokey translates to Hebrew or Iranian well.

I’M NOT A BIG FAN OF THE… or I’M A BIG FAN OF THE…

I believe I picked up this saying from my oft-mentioned friend Nan. (Have you ever noticed that I always call her “my friend Nan?” It is never just Nan. I guess that’s another one of my sayings.)

Here’s an example of how this one works. I don’t like eggs. I can’t stand the whites, especially if they are hard-boiled. But if someone asks me I don’t say “I don’t like eggs.” I say, “I’m not a big fan of the egg.”

The “the” is integral to the saying. “I’m not a big fan of eggs” is very different from “I’m not a big fan of the egg.”

So there are my Heather-isms. What silly phrases do you use regularly? If you don’t have any, feel free to try one of mine! Go ahead. It’s easy peasy.

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