A few posts ago, I recalled a childhood story regarding me, magic, shoplifting, and prison. You can find it here: https://rtcvers.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/sometimes-you-tell-your-six-year-old-hes-going-to-prison/
As a response to that story, I found several people in my life bringing up another traumatizing event from my more tender years. It is a tale of pain, misunderstandings, and body parts (as is any good tale). And since it is perfectly acceptable to put embarrassing stories about your childhood on the internet, I present it to you now. Sit back, relax, and journey with me to suburban Maryland, circa 1990.
In my family, we have all boys. Three boys. No girls. My poor mother never got to pass on her womanly wisdom to another of her own kind. She instead had to learn to live peacefully among this alien race of men, not unlike Leia and her brief stint among the Ewoks.
There were no Barbies in this strange land; there were no dresses and tea parties; there were no Easy-Bake Ovens (well, except for the one time my little brother asked for one for Christmas, but that’s another story). My mother had to learn the practice of alien customs, the use of alien tools, and – most importantly – the language. And the word around which our world was built was THINGER.
Now, Artie, what in the world is a thinger, you may very well ask. Well, reader, please allow me to expound.
Urban Dictionary likens the use of “thinger” to something akin to “whatchamacallit” or “thingamajig.” It purports that “thinger” can be used to describe that which has no name, or that whose name name cannot be recalled at the moment of description. i.e. – “Hand me that orange linking thinger, Billy Bob,” or “I went to the store and bought one of thos paper towel dispensing thingers.”
This was not necessarily the case with my family, however. In my family, it was a moniker for that certain special something that all of us boys had but my mother lacked (and I don’t mean moxie, kid).
I should have really queried my parents before I sat down to write this, as I’m not certain as to the date or origin of the word. I’m not certain who coined the term, and under what pretenses. Was it used to replace the scientific descriptor? Was it adopted after I, as the eldest child, discovered my own and created a suitable sobriquet? Or was it just a vernacular handle that was founded before I even entered as the third wheel into my parents’ relationship?
Whatever the case may be, “thinger” was as much a part of me as, well…
[I would like to take this opportunity here to showcase the pronunciation of the word. The g is not stressed as in “finger,” but is softened as in “singer.” It lives quietly in the back of the throat. (Insert joke about a thinger in the back of the throat here.)]
Now that you’re introduced to my thinger, I shall relate the story:
One day little five-year-old Artie was sitting at the kitchen table. He had before him a bowl of chicken noodle soup, the steam billowing over the edges. It was a cold winter’s day, and the soup was perfect to warm little Artie up. His mother busied herself with something or other by the stove or the kitchen cabinets or something. She was off to the right, if you’d like to picture it in your mind.
Artie sipped bits of broth from the spoon, slurping with glee. What a wonderful lunch he was having. All was right and good in the world.
Treachery brewed nearby, however. Something distracted little Artie. Was it a chunk of chicken that was slightly too warm for his sensitive little tongue? Was it something heard on the television in the next room? Or was he just a clumsy little boy, too proud of his own motor skills to really monitor them in the way he should have?
Whatever it was, Artie spilled the soup.
And oh, a spilled spoonful of soup was never so fraught with (the aforementioned) treachery. The piping hot liquid spilled directly into the lap of little Artie, creating a sensation between his legs that made him cry out in anguish. Little Artie let out a yelp of pain, throwing the spoon across the kitchen in agonizing rage.
Mother called from the other side of the room: “What’s wrong, Artie? What happened?”
“I burned my thinger!” Artie screamed, his speech garbled in torment. “I burned my thinger!”
Mother cooed in a sympathetic voice: “I’m sorry about that, hon. Just put it in your mouth.”
Artie’s breath caught in his throat. His eyes widened in bewilderment. He froze, at once confused and horrified at the suggestion by his own materfamilius.
Poor Mother – she had misheard the boy. Thinking little Artie had said “finger,” she assumed she had given him a perfectly logical suggestion for what to do until she had completed her own chores and could come over to look at it herself.
Now she gazed at her son and saw the befuddlement in his eyes. She saw the wheels in his mind churning, trying to decipher the real meaning behind what she had just said, and trying to decide how to actually make the suggested action happen, if that was in fact the proper procedure for such a set of given circumstances.
Suddenly, it clicked. She had made a terrible mistake. “Oh no!” Mother cried. “No, don’t try to put that in your mouth!”
The aftermath of the event is lost to the ages, as it has never been included with the story told to me. (This anecdote has been included in the catalog of Little Artie Stories since I can remember.) Mayhaps little Artie went to change his pants. Mayhaps a bag of ice was used to lessen the burning sensation. Did he finish the bowl of soup? Did he run screaming from the room? Alas, we do not know.
I am happy to report, however, that my thinger is fully operational and suffered no residual damage after its harrowing ordeal that fateful day.
Did anyone else have child-speak words for body parts? Have you ever burned them? Has your mother ever told you to put them in your mouth? Please share.