Sunday, August 05, 2007

They Call Me Mr. Tibbs

Once at an Allman Brothers concert, Greg Allman kept saying "Thank you, good night!" and would proceed to play another guitar solo. This, of course, makes for the ultimate Allman Brothers experience except that Hank and I were exhausted and kept wanting the wrap-up to be a real one. But it was as real as a Baptist preacher ending his sermon (Old joke -- what are the sweetest words to a Baptist? In conclusion . . . ), and we went home saying Thank you, good night! over and over, laughing about it. The phrase became the code for it's time to go, something we could use in crowds when it was time to wrap it up. Still use it when necessary although the actual night is forgotten by everyone but me. But that's how language is -- it morphs way past its origin into something else, the most living and versatile thing there is. I think about how much I speak in code, much of it derived from The Sopranos -- ie, Pine Barrens (for a situation in which one bad idea leads to another leads to a huge mess where communication is impossible) or FICA (how Tony was busted about his Russian mistress by a jealous employee who fights with her over a tiny bit of money -- one small stupid detail that reveals your deception), or this from Carver's story "Gazebo" -- "They can do their dirt at the Travelodge." (meaning a situation where your personal life has taken such a bad turn that you can't do your job and people will have to go elsewhere for help).
My favorite two terms, though, come from the military. I often speak of snafus (situation normal all fucked up) and fubars (situation fucked up beyond all recognition). I find myself in both all the time, as do we all. Or maybe there's people who never do -- I don't know them, of course. Sometimes I wish I did, but I suspect they would, how to say this delicately, annoy the fucking shit out of me. Love depends on speaking the same language. I recently had a dream where I was watching Sidney Poitier play Virgil Tibbs where he yells, "They call me Mr. Tibbs." I'm going to adopt this into my lexicon, a way of demanding a respect of sorts and also calling upon an entire mythology that will keep me away from people too young to remember important things, things like In The Heat Of The Night. If they don't, they can do their dirt at the Travelodge. Because God knows, I'm probably busy in the Pine Barrens, worrying about someone reporting some FICA-like detail that will bust my ass before I can whisper into the ears of my companions, Thank you, good night.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Silence is just so accurate." Mark Rothko
Cocktail Hour
Drinking music suggestion: Ghost In The Machine The Police
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Sunday!


Charles Gramlich said...

Those secret things in relationships, whether family or romantic, are such great elements of character. Lana and I have quite a few of these, some from the Simpsons, some from Monty Python (Wafer-thin mint.) I try to remember this when I develop characters in relationships.

miller580 said...

My wife calls this talking in code. I have a few close friends where in the middle of a conversation one of us will drop one of these in and (if funny) a round of laughter follows...leaving my wife to stare at us wondering what she missed.

The drive home leads to a discussion of how it is "annoying" when we "talk in code."

While we (my wife and I) have our own "code" it is more personal and typically not shared in public. What she doesn't understand, though I've told her, is that our code is my favorite.

paul said...


the walking man said...

The old lady and I have a code...unfortunately i have never been able to find the machine that will help me break it, so I am never sure what the hell she means when she says something.

I guess in our lives that is my SNAFU but fubar's go...well that just makes it time to say thank you and good night.



eric313 said...

What's "in the heat of the night"?

kidding! Just proving your point.

Pythia3 said...

You brought back the memory of an Elvis Costello concert I took my son Adam to, a few years back. I accidentally left my money in the car, and they wouldn't let me out of Freedom Hill to get it - well, they'd let me out, just not back in.
So, we sat on the lawn (we got there extra early to get a good lawn seat) under the hot evening sun and watched everyone walk by with cold drinks and snacks. The concert went on forever. I love Elvis, but I never heard so many (and such long) encores!
To top off the night, we lost our car in the sea of haphazardly parked - and mostly all black - cars.