I vaguely recall learning grammar in middle school. Or rather, I vaguely recall being taught grammar in middle school. I didn’t actually learn it. I am fortunate that my parents speak in grammatically correct sentences most of the time, so grammar class was mostly me wording things the way that sounded most right.
Fritz is learning grammar (being taught grammar), and he is doing the same thing: resting on his knowledge of what sounds correct versus actually understanding things like what it means to combine a helping verb with a past participle to form a compound tense (huh?). Up to now, his exposure to, shall we say, unrefined conversations has been very limited. Sure, we say things like “It’s me” or “Who does this belong to?” but that’s probably the extent of our poor grammar, and we know it is improper and we don’t speak that way in formal conversations.
But, oh my, what my kids are hearing on the baseball field. “Where you at, Fritz?” I suppose it doesn’t matter that the words end in a preposition…because it’s not a sentence. It makes me cringe. Other things make me laugh: “Stop your jibber-jabbering on the bench and pay attention to the game!” Hoo, boy.
Now, not all the good ol’ boys have Southern Drawls or speak like they were raised in the hills by moonshine swillin’ elementary school drop outs. But there are a few other ways we Reitemeyers have proven that we’re not from around these parts.
That ball cap Fritz likes to wear has this logo. Perhaps you recognize our favorite football team of frozen tundra fame? Down here they have never heard of a frozen tundra. In fact, I’m not sure they even know that there are football teams that don’t have “State” or “University” in their name.
When the coach realized it wasn’t the Georgia Bulldog logo, he forbade Fritz to wear it.
Last weekend, Bill went camping with the Cub Scouts. Our tent is one of these. We are 900 miles away from their nearest retail store.
Locals shop here.
One other way we show we aren’t local: we don’t know how to order a Coke, with a capital c. If you ask for a Coke, the waitress generally asks you, “Which one?” because in the South, coke, small c, means “carbonated beverage.” A warning to Diet Coke addicts, ordering a Diet Coke might get you a Diet Pepsi without the slightest thought from your server that you might want a specific brand of diet carbonated beverage.
And we may never learn how to get a Coke without a lengthy conversation. I generally avoid “soda” (how I refer to carbonated beverages) and stick with water instead. Bill is trying to act like he’s a native, so he’s been ordering “sweet tea.” And the kids like root beer and Sprite. So far, Sprite seems to mean Sprite, and not any old, carbonated, lemon-lime concoction.
Although I don’t care if my kids think a soda is called a coke or if our supplier of outdoor equipment has a wide mouth in its logo, I do hope that my kids don’t pick up the local jargon. In two years, if my son hears, “You ain’t from around he-ya, are ya, boy?” I do hope he is able to answer, “No, sir, I am not.”