Translating Barbism: A Child’s Lesson

Some lessons in life are easily taught. Lessons like:

– The stove is hot
– Sorbet is a disgusting excuse for dessert
– I before e except after c

Then there are the lessons that require a little more work. The kind of lessons that you have to live through to really appreciate.

That lesson for me was that my mom was a god damn dirty liar.

The woman had been making up her own words and phrases for years and passing them off as if they were commonplace.

And while that may not seem like a big deal to you, the fact that she knew her only daughter was entering the hellish years of high school and college with an arsenal of nonsense words and did absolutely nothing to stop it, gives me the right to hold onto some resentment.

Barbism#1: Brown Bread

beard-myrtle-brown-bread-istockBrown bread.



No matter which way you slice it (!), brown bread is not a real thing. I will concede that it is a fairly accurate description of the color of most bread.

However, I was lead to believe that this product was purchasable in a store.

Yet maybe the most embarrassing fact of all is that I was once engaged in an argument with a Subway employee over the existence of brown bread.

Subway Employee: What kind of bread would you like?

Me: Brown bread.

Subway Employee: What?

Me: Brown bread.

Subway Employee: That’s not a type of bread.

Me (internally): You’re not a type of bread.

Well, not too fast there. Brown bread, I later discovered, was what I mom affectionately called whole wheat bread.

Well, go ahead and add Subway store #754 to the list of places that have politely asked me to leave. And if you’re wondering, yes, Girl Scout camp is also on that list.

Barbism #2: Scatter Brain

The key to this is all in the pronunciation.

While a hard “er” may appear at the end of the first word, you’re going to want to immediately ignore that and replace it with an even harder “ah” as in:

That girls a scattah brain.

According to this Barbism, a scatter brain is someone whose common sense and intelligence has left them as if it has been scattered all over the place.

Another key to this Barbism is who you apply the label of “scatter brain” to. I have found in my many years of research that scatter brains work at a variety of locations:

  • Starbucks
  • Target
  • Apparently many other locations my Mother frequents

They also come in a variety of ethnicities and sizes. So, there’s a plus: diversity welcome!

Barbism #3: Lip Chap

Not: What is the thing that happens to my lips in winter? but rather the lip ointment product that many will recall is named CHAP STICK or LIP BALM.

giphy (31)

Me: Hey do you have any lip chap?

Friend: What?

Me: Lip chap.

Friend: You mean chap stick?

Me: Sighs. Yes.

Friend: Lip chap? Who are you, Huckleberry Finn?



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