Thursday, September 27, 2012

Shut the front door.

Okay. Here's something to make you smile.

So I was talking to this Grady elder and her granddaughter this week and she was doing well. Like so well that, really, there wasn't a whole bunch to talk about other than small talk. That small talk included questions about her life including how many kids, grandkids, and greatgrandkids she had.

Mrs. Carter had ten kids that grew into adulthood. Then three of her own kids had ten, too. The rest all had at least four but most had somewhere around "six or seb'm." Now. This woman was easily into her late eighties so by now all those kids' kids had kids, too. That was a lot of lineage.

"Well, I know I gots well over fifty-some-odd grands. I done lost count of the ones after that."

"Over fifty grandchildren? Shut the front door!"

Right when I said that last part Mrs. Carter narrowed her eyes and had this look of disdain. Her granddaughter chuckled and wiped her face with her hand. Shaking her head she said, "Here we go."

Mrs. Carter lit right into me. "Shut the front door? I don't like that figure of speech. See, I don't like it when somebody say 'shut the front door' like that 'cawse I know what you really want to say and it ain't nothin' you need to be fixin' your mouth to be saying."


"I'm sorry, Mrs. Carter."

"See, 'caws what you really wontin' to say is the f-word. And don't no lady need to be saying no f-word. It jest make you look ugly when you do. 'Specially in front of your elders."

"Yes, ma'am," I answered, "I can see your point."

"See, y'all go and take something that's PRO-fanity and then go on and twist it into something thanking you being all cute. But see to me, it ain't cute hearing no lady saying 'shut the front door' when I know what she tryin' to say."

"Yes, ma'am."

"My next door neighbor had her little great-grand over to the house and that little girl gon' tell her grandmama that somebody could 'kiss her asphalt' thanking it was funny. Naww, see. That ain't funny to me."

"No, ma'am, it's not funny at all."  Although I kind of secretly thought it was. Just a little bit.

"We was right out front, mmm hmm. She betta be glad she ain't no kin to me. I woulda pulled a switch right off that bush out front and got her legs with it."

"Mama, you can't spank nobody in public like that," her granddaughter chimed in. The expression on her face was soft and amused. I could tell this kind of banter took place often in their house.

"The hell I can't. If you one of my chil'ren and you 'round here acting a damn fool, I'll beat your tail whenever and wherever I choose. Kiss her asphalt. What a ten year old child know about somebody kissing anything?"

I just nodded and tried to look more deferential than entertained. I'm not sure I was succeeding.

"THAT'S the problem with these chil'ren now. What business you got being a doctor in the doctor's office telling somebody 'shut the front door' when you really want to tell somebody 'shut the fuck up.'"

Whoa, Mama! That is NOT even what I was saying! 

Besides. It sure sounded much worse when put that way.

"Mama!" her granddaughter interjected. Her eyes widened at her grandmother.  "Mama! Don't say the f-word. That's horrible. Plus you a lady, too." Granddaughter shook her head.

"Well, I been here long enough to say what I wont to say lady or not."

Love how the rules don't apply to the elders. Fair enough.

"Mama! Really, Mama?"

She ice-grilled her granddaughter while making this chewing motion with her mouth. I think her dentures were loose. "Well you know. . . I could just tell YOU to kiss my asphalt, now couldn't I?" 

Freakin' awesome.

"Or you could just say shut the front door." As soon as I said that Mrs. Carter swung her head in my direction. I offered her an innocent expression kind of like Steve Urkel.

"Did III do that?"

Mrs. Carter was not EVEN amused.

Her granddaughter was still reeling from Mrs. Carter's f-bomb. "Mama! I can't even believe you jest said the f-word! Mama!"

"She said it first." Mrs. Carter pointed at me.

"What? Nuh unh, Mrs. Carter!"

Now she was on to something else. "What's that other one, Gayle? That other one that Marshawn 'nem was sayin' that day?"

"When Mama?"

"When we was watching the TV conventions. With Obama and all them that day."

"Ohhhh!" She clapped her hands and chuckled simultaneously. "Ohh, yeah!"

"What he said, Gayle? Said somebody going . . .some kind way."

"Marshawn said Miss Obama was going HAM"

"You know what that is?" Mrs. Carter gave me what I am certain was the hairiest of eyeballs when she asked that. "You know what H-A-M. is?"

Eek. I'm afraid I do know. But if you think I was about to admit it to this octogenarian who'd just torn me a new one for saying "shut the front door" you could forget it.

"Uhhh, HAM? No, ma'am, I sure don't." I felt my nose grow just a tiny bit.

"Well," Mrs. Carter said, "I know the 'm' stand for 'mother' even though you know they really mean 'motherfucker.'"


"It do! What it mean again, Gayle? The whole thing?"

"Dr. Manning, you heard somebody say they going H.A.M? Like they going hard as a mother?"

"No. . . .I've never heard that expression."  Fingers sooooo crossed behind my back.

"See, that's what I mean. Everybody done got all cute with these expressions like somebody don't know what they mean. Then you got little bitty kids saying HAM and shut the front door and all that foolishness."

Foolishness. Such a grandmama word. Love it.

"You know this man on the radio named Tom Joyner? He always saying that somebody using some BIG-A words and that make me mad that he can say that full out on the radio cawse everybody know he really trying to say 'BIG ASS.'"

"Yes, ma'am."

"What you thank about beating chil'ren? Kids don't get no real beatin's no more. Tha's they problem."

"Uuuhhh, beatings?"

"With a switch. Don't nothing put you in your place like a switch."

"Uuhhh, yes ma'am."

"If I heard any of my kin talkin' 'bout some 'kiss my asphalt' I woulda got them legs good. Sure as I sit right here."

"Yes ma'am."

"And 'nizzle'. You know they be saying shizzle for sure and nizzle for --"

"--Oh LORD. Please Mama."

"Now what somebody look like saying that word? That's some foolishness if I ever heard it. Shizzle and nizzle.

And after that, Mrs. Carter spent no less than ten more minutes lamenting about the same thing. Seeing as she was in her eighties, I just sat there and took my lumps.

Finally, finally, finally I managed to get out of the room. But as I did--I kid you not--I could hear one of the residents clear as day belly-aching about the four patients still waiting to be seen by him. The schedule was busier than expected.

"Are you freakin' kidding me?" the voice rang out. Her granddaughter dropped her head and I cringed.

Lucky us. Mrs. Carter was so busy still going off about kissing asphalt and the shutting the front door that she didn't hear any of it.

Phew! That was close.

And can I just say how much I love working at Grady? And especially how much I love the Grady ultra-elders like Mrs. Carter? Because I do.

Like, OM-eff-G, I do.

Happy Thursday.


  1. This. Is. Amazing!!! (And I would even say... Effing Amazing. ;)) I was laughing out loud, especially picturing you sitting there, trying to keep a straight face. :)

    1. It took every bone in my body not to laugh. She was SO serious. And you know from working at Grady that this absolutely happened.

  2. Okay. Thanks for the education. HAM? See, I had never heard that one. Oh Lord. Mrs. Carter would hate me. I am actually PROUD of myself if I say "freaking" instead of...that other f-word.
    This was a beautiful post. Thanks. You were definitely going HAM.

    1. I know, right? That interaction between that grandmother and her granddaughter was so sweet. And to think she has more than fifty additional ones! You know? I really wanted to tell Mrs. Carter, "Why you goin' HAM on me today? Geeze!"

  3. Bwhahahahaha! Love this! Not real sure how my Grandma got to ATL from South Central and back before we noticed - this has got to be her - sounds exactly like something she would say. Mostly because she's said it :)

    1. Don't you love the part about her "getting them legs with a switch?" That is the part that almost took me over the edge. LAWD she was funny. She's probably still going off somewhere right now.



    1. Awww!! Thanks Gramps! YOu know how much I love the elders!

  5. Well you gotta respect an elder that knows her own mind. She obviously drilled the pride of good grammar, kind words and saying what you mean into her children. My mother always said swearing was the sign of a poor vocabulary. I TRY to remember that. Doesn't always work.

  6. Love this!! Switches and child' rens!!!

    1. Don't make me get them legs, Davita! LOLOL! Isn't that hilarious?

  7. Dude-this was seriously the funniest " A" patient encounter that I have ever heard.

    Maria, fellow Meharrian

    1. Now see? What is a full grown anesthesiologist doing saying 'A' when she knows she wants to say ASS! I'm pulling out a switch and getting your legs, too!

  8. LMAO. I laughed reading this whole post.

    She has a big family. I also wanted an extra big family. My grandparents (dad's parents) had 9 kids. They have 21 grandkids. And just as many great grands.

    1. Girrrrrrrl, how funny is that? It was SOOO hard to keep my face straight but I promise I was a little nervous that she was going to mistake me for some of her kin and beat my behind right then and there. LOL!

      Loooove Grady!

  9. Too funny! I had this same conversation with a fifth grader who kept saying "freaking this" and "freaking that". He insisted that he wasn't saying a bad word. I insisted it was all about the context. I'm not eighty-something yet, but I sure do get it!
    I think your great-grandmother, who had ten children, probably couldn't tell anyone how many grands and great-grands she had either. Your grandmother (Poop Deck's mom) had 11, one brother had 10, and who knows how many the others had? Gotta love those big families!
    And one more thing - my Mama used to make me pick my own switch from the tree! I found out early that the thin ones hurt the most...

    1. Yeah. . . kind of like how you told your grandson Zachary to stop saying, "What the. . .?" Ha ha ha. . .

  10. Your blog ALWAYS makes me smile, and this is hilarious. She reminds me so much of my grandma. I can't wait to be an old lady someday. :)

    And thank you, so much, for all your kind messages--the last one especially brought tears to my eyes. I can't tell you how much it means to me.

  11. Hilarious! I, personally, enjoy the various derivations that Phil Dunphy on "Modern Family" comes up with -- my favorite is "sweet and sour chicken!"

  12. Mrs. Carter is plugged in, do you hear me? I don't think my own mother knows what HAM means. She is sharp. Oh and don't feel bad about Zachary--my mom had to tell my 5 year old to stop saying 'what the', too. I think SpongeBob is the culprit.

  13. This was one of the funniest posts ever! I'm kinda impressed that Mrs. Carter knows what HAM even means. I don't know how you contained your laughter because I know I would've been cracking up at some point.
    - Bridgette

  14. On a daily basis, I hear kids saying "Merde" in my village (the French equivalent of "S#@t"). At first it was jarring to witness a toddler with a tongue like that, but I've sadly grown accustomed to it.


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