Monday, November 12, 2007

You Can Take the Girl Out Of South Philly....

Yes. I am from South Philly. Actually, I am MORE than just "from" South Philly. I actually lived 35 years in South Philly. My parents, all their 65 years, and counting. And my grandparents, all their 88-89 years. There is no hope for me now. I went to Catholic school, from kindergarten through high school, which in my time as a kid was compulsory. I attended a high school which was---and probably still is ---THE penultimate stereotype of what it means to be/talk/act/think "South Philly:" St. Maria Goretti. How I made it out of there speaking recognizable English and not pregnant is a major triumph of my will.

We had phonics in grade school. Sometimes I think my generation must have been the last one to actually have phonics as a subject. But man, oh man, in retrospect? I am so glad that we did. I can only imagine what I'd sound like if I didn't. I think, because of the wonder of phonics, I learned to suppress my South Philly accent. What is a South Philly accent? Oh boy. It's pretty bad. If you know what a Philadelphia accent is like, then times that by like eleventy. There you go.

Mostly everybody knows the colloquial things we say as Philadelphians. Like "Jeet?" "No, Joo?" And all that garbage about cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, and water ice (pronounced "wooder ice"). People, listen, I've only ever eaten like 5 cheesesteaks in my entire life and none of them was from either Pat's or Geno's. Both places suck. Cheesesteaks, in general, SUCK. They are greasy and gristly (at least the ones from Pat's and Geno's are) and just meh.

I digress.

What I am talking about is the distinct linguistic difference regarding how all of us from South Philly were brought up pronouncing certain words when compared to the rest of the universe. To better explain what I'm talking about, please read this very informative article. Here's a quote:

"But there is a distinguishing feature of some South Philly speech: it's r-less, like the rest of the East Coast. There used to be a sign in my neighborhood that said, 'Frankie is a Bastid.' Good phonetic spelling, but not north of Fitzwater Street."

Once you fully comprehend our bizarrely complex vowel structures, how we randomly drop Rs and Ts in words, and how we make up words that don't exist, then you can fully appreciate this story:

How Gina, a "growed" woman, got "all South Philly" on a cashier in Petsmart.

People have always told me that I have the patience of a saint. I don't. I have no idea where anyone got this idea. For this reason, I could never be a teacher, nurse, or parent. I do, however, have a strong ability to control my impatience and swallow my rage and frustrations. Thus why I have been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, acid-reflux disease, and nervous bowel syndrome. A doctor once told me, "Gina...you're an Italian from South Philly, you are going to have stomach problems." Agita is as prevalent as dandruff in South Philly---if not more so.

So, anyway, last week Todd and I were making one of our many visits to Petsmart to load up on supplies for our beasts. You might say we rolled-up there. :-) It was straight after work. I had to pee and I was starving. Two conditions that tend to wear on my already frail patience. I forget most of what we bought there because we are constantly buying the necessities like food and kitty litter (which my family has now termed "cat rocks." Hey, it saves 2 whole syllables) . I do recall two unique items that we purchased during this particular shopping visit: a hooded pet bed and a cardboard, ramp-style, scratching thing. This is it:

Note the dimensions: 17.1 x 8.2 x 10.4 inches.

Ok. Todd was carrying something really heavy and large, probably a 24-pound bag of dry food or a 40-pound box of cat rocks. I had the pet bed and that scratcher thing. We may have very well had more stuff too. So we get in line. We're in line for about a minute and a new cashier comes and opens up right next to us. She says out loud, apparently to Todd, "I can take you over here." So, Todd jumps over into her lane. The lady in line in front of us kind of got pissed. I guess she figured that she was technically "ahead" of us so she should have gone into the new line first. Normally, I would agree, but I think that because Todd was so heavily burdened, the cashier spoke directly to him. So the lady gets in line behind us, slams her 2 puny items on the counter. What-ever. She is standing like 1.6 centimeters from me. Literally, breathing down my neck. I feel my RAGE level rising. I take out my Petmart discount card and debit card and pay. She gives me the receipt and my cards back. I am fumbling with putting away my cards and zipping my purse as fast as I can because the lady behind me is like OMFG ON TOP OF ME. Todd is practically out the door already. I pick up the pet bed. For some unknown reason, the cashier chose to put the scratcher thing in a bag. A bag, which, might I add, was WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too small for it. Then, she didn't hand it to me. She put it behind her on a counter. So I had to reach over there and get it. Well, it nearly falls out of the bag and then I drop the bag. I drop the pet bed and try to pick up the bag. Meanwhile, at this point, the lady behind me is IN MY COLON. I squish the pet bed under my arm and pick up the bag with the scratcher. It falls out altogether and slides across the floor. Todd comes back in like, "What is taking you so long?" So I pick up the scratcher and out loud say:

"WHEOWUH PUTS 'ISS INNA FRIGGIN' BAG?!?! JEEZUS H. CHRIST-UH."

Todd's like, "Gimme that pet bed...." So I hand it to him and he puts it under his arm. He goes, "You got everything?" And I said, "Yeah. Let's get out of here before someone ELSE gets UP MY FRIGGIN' ASS." (with the -a sound, like in "hair")

Sigh. Yes. As soon as I got outside I started laughing hysterically. You really can't take the South Philly out of the girl. And guess what? I'm kind of glad.

3 comments:

Marsha said...

What--you didn't deck anyone? Or call out a hit? :)

Yeah, even though you say "roll up" all the time now, I just can't see you ever turning into a Southern girl.

Katie J said...

Gina, you are so funny. So when I get annoyed with someone, do I say I went all "mid-western" on their ass? Um, yeah...it doesn't have the same ezgsyr, does it?

Great article on Philly-speak, btw.

the nicole kline experience said...

OH man i remember you telling me this story!! it is still awesome.