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Culture

Skimptions

This old wooden beauty of a Buick was parked on the streets of Manhattan recently. It is the dead-opposite of a skimption.

For your amusement, I hope, I’ve done a Jaywalking episode. It begins with a bit of the overture to Semiramide — a Rossini opera I reviewed from the Met last week. Then I get into Russia and, after a while, China. The Marriott company fired an employee for “liking” a tweet by a Tibetan independence group. Makes me think of Cole Porter: “and they’ll all kow-tow.” So I duly play that song.

I talk a little trade, a little Ben Stein (“Anyone? Anyone?”), a car (long, long wood-paneled Buick LeSabre wagon). I conclude with some Rossini, for symmetry’s sake.

In recent episodes and columns, I’ve been doing some regional speech. A reader from Utah writes,

In the early 1980s, we had terrible flooding from the Great Salt Lake. Our governor was Norm Bangerter, a man who grew up in rural Utah. He was interviewed on television about the impact of the flood, and I’ll never forget how he started his answer: “Is what the problem is is …” This is perfectly and wonderfully typical.

Another reader gives us a lesson from Trinidad:

“Yuh have a good hand,” or “I like yuh hand.” The speaker has just complimented your cooking.

Finally, put some South in your mouth (to steal a phrase from Bro. Jimmy’s BBQ). This is a note about an Alabama family.

If you noticeably lost weight, my grandmother would exclaim, “You fell off!” She also called Coca-Cola “dope.” Peanut butter: “goober salve.”

I met a small farmer once who responded, when I asked him his occupation, “Oh, I pea-patch a little bit.”

If you asked my grandad whether he wanted some more milk and he wanted only a little, he’d reply, “Maybe a skimption.”

I have frequently heard the more profane among us insert swear words right smack dab into the middle of verbs, as in “I guaran-damn-tee it!”

Salty indeed. And savory.

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