Names

My friend has a son who is 10. I have been in a room with him. But, we haven’t actually been introduced other than “This is my friend, Kitty.” directed to his grandmother, who was in the room at the same time. I have no clue what he is expected to call me. It will be interesting to see if he ever actually calls me by name.

When I was growing up, I had an Aunt Nel and Uncle Carl who weren’t actually related. But, they have known me since I was a year old and are still good friends of my mother. I, also, had Mr. Jim, Mr. George and Miss Esther, who were friends of my grandparents. Also, no actual genetic connection. But, close enough not to require the formality of last names.

An African-American friend once told me that her parents taught her never to Miss This or Mr. That to anyone because it was a slave time holdover. And I can see that. But, that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the names we used for the older family friends. I told Diane about Miss Esther and Aunt Nel and she said “Hm. That’s interesting. I’ll keep it in mind when I hear those used in the future.”

My sister works in a daycare. The children there call all the teachers Miss Firstname. So, my sister is Miss Amanda to her 3 and 4 year olds. I’m not sure why the school chooses to do that. It is surely no more difficult to say than Miz Whoever.

Because I am called “Kitty” (birth certificate says “Katherine”), I get the extra silliness of Miss Kitty. If you are of a certain age in America, you watched Gunsmoke on TV. Miss Kitty was the madam working at the saloon in Dodge City. Even the director of my department at work adds that superlative to my name. And that feels odd. “Miss Kitty” from someone under the age of 20 would fit my family’s traditions. But, from people my own age or older, it is just peculiar.

Lalochezia

Lalochezia lal·o·che·zi·a (lāl’ō-kē’zē-ə) n. Emotional relief gained by using indecent or vulgar language.

One day, I was at my parents house and needed to store some kind of food. (I’ve forgotten what.) I had a container and was sitting on the floor going through all the lids that had accumulated in the cabinet trying to find the one that fit. And, as is my habit when I’m doing something that’s frustrating me, I was swearing to myself. A kind of sotto voce “shit, damn, hell, fuck, hell, shit, damn, damn, damn, shit fuck, hell…”

My father came in the kitchen, heard me and started laughing. I said, “What? It’s funny that I’m sitting on the floor look for a lid for this damn bowl?”

He said “No. I came in your room one time when you were about 4 years old and you were looking something in your toy box. And you were talking to yourself saying ‘shoot, durn, shoot, durn, heck, shoot, heck.’ It’s funny how somethings don’t change even though the language is more mature.”


I work in a medical lab and our work space is called a bench (even though it is a long table). And the benches in my department are about 3 or 4 feet apart. It is possible to be facing someone else while you are minding your own business doing your own work in your own space. Also, there are days that are a little stressful and my lalochezia kicks in to help me deal with it.

One day, my manager called me in to tell me that another employee had complained about my language. I asserted that I had not been swearing at my coworker. I had simply been doing my work and talking to myself as I did. “Also,” I said, “if she has never heard those words, how does she know what they mean? And if she does know what they mean, clearly she has heard them before and I haven’t been giving her an accidental education.” I thought about it a minute and said “And another thing. If we were that close to each other that she could hear me, why did she need to come complain to you? Why didn’t she just day ‘Kitty! Shut up! You’re bugging me.’? I probably would have.”

Sometimes, I add an extra “fuck” to my conversations at work when she’s around, now.