Friday, November 09, 2007

Datsa Nice

One of my hobbies has become reading novels and stories written about the Bronx. About a month ago, I was reading "Vito Loves Geraldine," a short story by Janice Eidus. Most of Eidus' stories fit into the "self-important literary fiction" genre; they're peopled with oversensitive prima donnas who are having incredibly meaningful moments that change their worlds forever in ways that lesser souls could never understand.

In other words, they're absolute dreck.

"Vito Loves Geraldine" is different. It basically tells the story of Dion from Dion and the Belmonts: a 1950's-era Bronx doowop star and the girl who falls in love with him. It is clever, funny, and filled with local detail. Vito's catchphrase, "Aaaay! Geraldine Rizzoli!" quickly became a staple in our house. Georgia, of course, picked up on it, and would walk around piping "Aaaaaaay! Dewadeen Bazzoli!" She sounded like a miniature, lisping version of the Fonz.

Georgia's gotten to the age in which she is compelled to repeat everything she hears. One big problem with this is that Virginia and I both swear like sailors. This isn't too surprising, given the fact that we are both the children of sailors, but it is getting to be a little dangerous. We've started watching our language and policing each other, but we still slip up from time to time. It's generally pretty easy to figure out who George is imitating. If she says "shit," the culprit is my wife, while if she says "fuck" or "douchebag," I am usually to blame.

I never realized it before, but swearing is as idiosyncratic as any other form of expression. Personally, I don't care for "shit," and will only use it on the spur of the moment. My wife, on the other hand, thinks it's the shit.

Another problem is the fact that George's renditions of classic swear words are pretty funny. Her version of "doos bag" particularly kills me. Of course, we can't laugh, as she will see this as encouragement, which means we spend a lot of time biting our lips and trying to think of sad things.

The other night, I said "goddamn," and immediately regretted it. My embarrassment came a moment too late, as George immediately picked up on the word. She even gave a perfect copy of my intonation: "GOD-DAAAAAAM...god-dam, goddamn, goddamn...GOD-DAAAAM!" I found myself trying not to laugh as I told my daughter "okay, honey...once is enough...okay, you can stop now...Look! Dinner is on!"

To her credit, my wife refrained from scolding me.

This isn't to say that we are George's only influence. She also peppers her language with words from Spanish, generally delivered with a Dominican accent. Often, we think that her words are childish gibberish, only to discover that she's simply speaking another language. For example, she recently told her mother "Keefer shirt!," followed by "keefer shoes," "keefer pants," and "keefer socks." We subsequently found out that the Spanish word for "to remove" is quittar, which sounds a lot like "keefer" when you say it Dominican-style.

Her time in Little Italy and Spanish Harlem have also given her the gestures and attitude of a miniature Caporegime. Tonight, I picked her up from behind after we were done watching a movie. She leaned back and snuggled against my shoulder. I smiled and said "that's nice." She leaned into me further and said "Ohhhh...datsa nice. Datsa weely, weely nice" while giving me little slaps on my cheek. My wife couldn't stop laughing. I couldn't either.

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  • George will either be a citizen of the world or a schizophrenic.

    This is hilarious! Robin Williams used to tell a wonderful story about driving with his toddler in the back seat. Someone cut him off and he said "FUCKIT."

    Instantly and for days afterward (or maybe years,) his son chanted "fuckitfuckitfuckit" often and for all occasions.

    You've been warned.

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, At November 9, 2007 at 10:18 PM  

  • My parents were the same way and I had a little trouble after they put me in Catholic school, goddamnit.

    Sr. Grace actually asks me, "Is this how your parents speak at home?"

    I had to lie.

    By Blogger M@, At November 10, 2007 at 9:40 AM  

  • They're some salty dogs.

    By Blogger M@, At November 10, 2007 at 9:40 AM  

  • Ohmigod! that is too funny!! I can't wait to hear about when she starts cussing in other languages!

    By Blogger Claudia, At November 10, 2007 at 3:19 PM  

  • Hearts-
    I think George will probably land somewhere in the middle. I only pray that she will learn where and when it's appropriate to swear!

    Sometimes I think that you and I had the exact same childhood.

    Bite your tongue! I have a hard enough time trying to control her language in English!

    By Blogger Crankster, At November 11, 2007 at 6:31 PM  

  • Thye're like little sponges at that age. Personally, I'm more of a 'fuck'-er than a 'shit'-er, but I do like a good 'shite'.


    By Blogger Glamourpuss, At November 12, 2007 at 7:07 AM  

  • Oh, this is good! Sweet little George is a little mambo Italiano!

    Asshole and shit are the words my kids picked up. Fuck was reserved for if I was really really mad and it slipped. oops. Poor Bill never curses so, he was less impressed by our toddlers rendition of Asssss Ho.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 12, 2007 at 9:20 AM  

  • Puss-
    I'm bollocks with the shite, but am quite a good fuck-er.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to write that sentence.

    Part of me has a hard time stopping her when she shows such enthusiasm. I feel like such an Assssss-ho.

    By Blogger Crankster, At November 12, 2007 at 12:34 PM  

  • If/when I have kids, I'll try to turn them into minced oath factories...

    "Kiss my hand, you motherfather piece of shoe!!"

    By Blogger tokenscot, At November 12, 2007 at 5:47 PM  

  • Tokenscot-
    Thanks. I needed a sense of perspective on this.


    By Blogger Crankster, At November 12, 2007 at 10:13 PM  

  • Datsa soooo cute!!!!! ;d


    By Blogger Odat, At November 13, 2007 at 11:33 AM  

  • Weely, weely cute!

    Good to hear from you, Odat!

    By Blogger Crankster, At November 13, 2007 at 8:21 PM  

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