Note: Today marks 10 years ago that Christopher Mele’s fiancee, Carla Carlson, died.
Those who knew her celebrated the larger-than-life character she was. For those who never met her, this tribute — in the form of a Carla-to-English dictionary — will give you a better sense of who she was and why she was unique.
Rest in peace ODB. You are missed.
English was a second language for Carla. Her primary language is something I call “Carlaese” or “Carlaspeak.”
She had a shorthand expression for so many things. Here’s a glossary of some:
Earchs: Ears, or sometimes referring to her hearing aids
Mock milk: My skim milk
Pussycat list: Her favorite actors who were hunks or sexy, as in: Sam Waterson is on her pussycat list
Bunnies: Butt, behind. As in “Nice bunnies.”
Put my eyeballs on: Put on her eye glasses
Pray to St. Yolanda Vega: Her homage to the woman who picks the winning Lotto numbers in the hopes that she would pick Carla’s numbers
Boogeritis: A runny nose, a bad cold
Frowzy: To be in a state of disarray or unkempt, as in: When he woke up, he was all frowzy looking.
Scrunch: To get a rub or massage, as in: Can you give my shoulder a scrunch?
Gripper pads: Usually referring to the cats’ padded paws, sometimes referring to devices with Velcro
Eggie wegs: The plastic Easter eggs the cats like to play with
Gum snapper: A term generally applied to a young, inept cashier or receptionist, as in: Some gum snapper couldn’t find the price of the carrots.
Belly warmer: A reference to a young girl, generally in her late teens or early 20s, often in a relationship with an older man, as in: Yeah, that college professor was seen having coffee with some belly warmer. Derived, I think, from the notion that if they were together that she’d be on laying on top and keeping his “belly warm.”
Forshnoricated, to forshnoricate: To get organized, to tidy up, as in: Before we go on vacation, I need to get the bills forshnoricated. This is one of my all-time favorites.
Handyman: A reference to the handicapped sign to hang on the rearview mirror of her truck so she could park in a disabled person’s parking spot
Glom: To steal, to take without asking
Gonif: A thief, or someone crooked not to be trusted
Fish eye/Godzilla eye: To be looked at sideways; at a glance; with one eye open and one closed; to be viewed with disdain or distrust, as in: Yeah, she was giving me the fish eye from across the room.
Pike off: Spy on; check out; snoop
Dirt alert: Juicy bit of gossip, high-priority dish
PUD file: Potentially Useful Dirt, something to tuck away for a rainy day
Amies: A reference to animals, as in: We are going to the zoo to look at all the amies.
Hidey hole: Some secret spot for stashing things
Hide in plain sight: Usually referring to something that went missing that was right in front of her
Perp chirp: A reference to my First Responder pager, which would sound a little chirp with bulletins about police activity, hence Perp chirp
Whoziwhatsis: Her all-purpose term for an item the name of which she could not remember, but somehow I would always understand what she was talking about.
Walking sideways: To be a crab, or to be in a crabby mood, as in: I can tell you had a bad day at work because when you got home, you were walking sideways.
Lit up like a whorehouse on a Saturday night: A house with lots and lots of lights on
As Irish as Patty’s pig: Um, I guess this one is self-explanatory. I never quite got it.
As bold as brass: Again, self-explanatory. Usually reserved for when the cats got caught doing something bad, like jumping up on the table, and then denying that they had done anything wrong
Poooooor: An expression of sympathy, sometimes in a mocking way, but again usually reserved for the cats, especially if they’ve not been fed yet, as in: Pooooor baby. Nobody fed you yet?
The hairless ones: A reference to the boys as pre-teens who were sans body hair
EBS: What the cats suffered when they had not been fed: Empty Bowl Syndrome.
The Man/Daddy: Talking about me in the third person to the cats, as in: Are you glad Daddy is home? Did the Man feed you?
Keeplock: A term from her days in correctional services, meaning to put the cats in solitary confinement, as in: When I serve the turkey, the cats are going into keeplock.
Big Perch: When she got her new bedroom set years ago, the queen-sized bed became Molly’s “big perch” where she liked to stay during the day and sleep. The name sort of stuck and the house in Lords Valley, with its viewshed, also became “The Big Perch.”
MBC: Might Bitey Cat, a reference to Misha, who likes to gnaw on feet and toes.
Tumbleweeds: To brawl or fight; to roll around in the street in a fight, as in: If she makes one more snide comment, we’re gonna be tumbleweeds.
…or know the reason why: This usually came at the end of some kind of question or statement, as in: I’m going to find that bank statement or know the reason why. Never quite grasped this one either.
Lemonsucker: A sourpuss, someone who thought they were high and mighty or uppity, as in: That priest was a real lemonsucker.
Looked like a bum in a fit: I don’t know the origins of this, but it means to look disheveled, unkempt; see “frowzy.” Also could be used interchangeably with: “Looked like the “ ‘Wreck of the Hesperus.’ ” (After a poem by Longfellow.)
Slit-eyed: Tired; eyes like slits from not being able to open them
Rags: Her beloved rags, The National Enquirer, The Globe, The National Examiner, Star. Fridays were “Rag Day,” because that’s the day they hit the newsstands. And woe unto you if you forgot to bring home the rags.
Fershstunken: Stinks, smells bad, as in: I need to take a shower to get rid of the fershstunken.
Whoopin’ it up: Partying and drinking pretty hard
Price of rice: To set someone straight, as in: I’m going to tell him about the price of rice
Purpsi: Her favorite soft drink: Pepsi
The Disease Store: Her name for the local supermarket, which is called Mr. Z’s.
Sunday goin’ to meetin’ clothes: Your finest threads; dressed up for special occasion
No big whoop: No sweat, no big deal; also No biggie
Clutching their pearls/Getting a case of the vapors: Sort of evocative of Victorian upper society and being offended at something relatively small and feeling faint or light-headed over it; think the straight lady in a Marx Bros. Movie, as in: When I cracked that joke at the meeting, the chairwoman was sitting there clutching her pearls.
Crazy hour: Not any particular time or not even an hour long, but it referred to that point of the night (usually the night) when the cats would be so hyper and frisky, jumping around, springing backward, etc.
Whimwhams: Feelings of anxiety, butterflies; insecurities
Don’t touch my shit: One of her golden rules. Just leave her stuff alone and no one gets hurt.
Since Hector was a pup: I have no godly idea where this comes from. It is used to refer to a significant passage of time, or age, as in: That store has been there since Hector was a pup.
Knee-high to a kitten: Again, another measure of age, usually referring to kids who have now grown up, as in: I remember him when he was knee-high to a kitten.
Growth experiences are a bitch: Sort of a variant of what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This one is a Band-Aid to get you through a tough time by making you laugh and reminding you that you will get through it.
Shit happens: A bit of a variation of no big whoop. A general dispensation and way of addressing something big or small that has gone awry, especially if it’s out of your control, as in: Yeah, it sucks that the tree limb fell on the car, but you know, shit happens.
Plo-plos: Pillows. Especially used if she was switching from the dayside decorative pillows to the nighttime ones, as in: Can you get the plo-plos out of the closet?
Smokin’ dope: To express disbelief or something absurd, as in: I looked at the prices for steak at Mr. Z’s. Forget it, they were smokin’ dope.
Beams: Indoor lights, as in: Why are all these beams on?
When the student is willing, the master/teacher will appear: Very Zen like. More or less that when you are ready to change or to learn, an opportunity will present itself for you to grow or change.
Ambiance: Yes, this of course is a legitimate word, but she would draw out the ‘a’ so it was “Aaaaambiance” but it would refer to her desire to have the lights turned off and candles lit in the room.
White trash tables: Folding snack tray tables, the white trash reference comes from the notion that white trash uses them as everyday dining ware.
Appropriate: Here it is a verb, as in to appropriate something, which in Carla’s case, meant taking it, usually on the sly. Not exactly stealing but not exactly kosher either. As in, I needed to appropriate some office supplies from the jail.
Dipseydoodle: Flim-flam, to con, to get away with something, as in: I had the cashier so dipseydoodled that she forgot to charge me for the bread.
Parlay: Just one of those words she liked to use as in, I parlayed my coupons.
Three thousand nine hundred ninety nine: Again, one of those words she used a lot. For some stupid reason, this one grated on me. Maybe because she never used a different number, ever. Example: We have 3,999 rolls of toilet paper in the closet but none in the bathrooms.
Babies: The deer. Again with the elongated pronunciation: “Baaaaabies.”
Hurty: To hurt, to ache
Clicker: TV remote control
Heaterarator: The heating elements, the baseboard heat.
Nappy: Nap, sleep, as in: The cats and I are going to take a little nappy.
Ching chow: Chinese food
Wontonton: Wonton soup
Poofy: Her way of describing swelling, as in: My feet are all poofy.
Firin’ around: To be running around, especially doing chores or work; sort of implies an aimlessness to the effort
Sue my ass and get a fart: Especially popular expression when it came to bill collectors
Go scratch your ass with a broken bottle: An all-purpose insult
Eat shit and bay at the moon: See above
Snout: Shout, the washing pre-treatment
Greedy Gus: Someone who wants a lot, takes a lot
Friends in low places: We like these people, such as clerks and secretaries
Better to be lost than found: Sometimes it’s better to keep a low profile
Pataki cigarettes: When the governor signed legislation mandating that cigarettes flame out quickly if they’ve not been puffed on as a fire safety measure, Carla went nuts because her smokes kept snuffing out, hence her hatred for “Pataki cigarettes.”
Gussied up: To be all dressed up, spiffed up, could be implied to be in a slutty kind of way
Naked cats: When the cat is without its collar, it is naked
Cut from the cheek of his/her ass: Someone who is very much alike someone else, as in: Michael is cut from the cheek of his dad’s ass.
Slam’s Club: Sam’s Club
Wrinchkey: To tear, mangle, break; to make more difficult; or sometimes to twist, turn, remove as in: I need you to wrinchkey this bolt off or Don’t wrinchkey the envelope, use an opener.
Sleept: To have slept
Grade Z movie: Really, really bad movie. A stinker but possibly fun anyway.
Kidney killer: The muscle-enhancing supplement creatine that Garth would take
God squad: A holy roller, someone who is very religious or preachy
Cat’s paw: Someone who is being manipulated to do something on behalf of someone else, as in: Danny will sometimes unwittingly be Michael’s cat’s paw.
How you doin?/Whatya doin?/What’s shakin’ baby?/What’s on your agenda today?: All different ways of asking what’s going on.
Check please! Meant to convey a desire to get out of there, to remove oneself from a tight spot, as in: When I saw security coming for me and Arl at the mall, I was like check please!
Fleabagus: What she would call the cats if she saw them scratching
‘She’ is the cat’s mother: I don’t know the origins of this and it was not cited too often, but it would come out if one of the boys used the pronoun ‘she’ in some context where it was no clear who she was.
Dead: As in empty, broken or flat, usually referring to her cans of Pepsi which might have been left open for some time, as in: This one is dead. Can you get me a new one?
Bird bath/whore’s bath: To get scrubbed up just using a washcloth and water in the sink. It’s a quick bath to get ready vs. a full-fledged shower.
Hire the handicapped week: Usually said in connection with shopping at ShopRite where the baggers or the cashiers were slow-witted, or in some cases, outright retarded
Getting a bath: When the cats would lick her hand or arm
One toke over the line: A person who is a few fries short of a Happy Meal. They are just a little more crazy than the average person. Someone who is a bit of a burnout.
Cocksuckers from hell: This is an all-time fave of mine. Used only in the most extreme of stress and anger, especially if she was trying to fix something and it would not work or if something broke, spilled or if she was scared badly enough from one of my practical jokes.
Ease into the day: To lounge in PJs in bed, reading the paper or watching TV until about noon or so; the idea being not to act too rashly by jumping into the daily chores (just the opposite of me!)
Sidewalk superintendent act: Someone who watches from the sidelines but does no work
Farfel mouth: I don’t know the origins of this one, but it was a reference to the cats meowing
Would you jump in my grave as fast? Usually reserved for someone who cut in front of her on line
Muscular spiders: Big spiders that needed the exterminator’s attention
I’d rather clothe him than feed him: A big kid
..could put a saddle on him: Usually a reference to a big dog
Felony fliers: Expensive sneakers
Lounge wear: Comfortable pajamas
Fuck me where I sit: An exclamation of agitation
Didn’t even get kissed first: The notion that she was getting screwed over without the benefit of a kiss first
Case of the ass: Someone who is a state of disagreement or unhappiness; pissed off
Drunkin Doorknobs: Her nickname for Dunkin’ Donuts
Marlboro miles: Someone who looked like they had been around the block a few times and had the wrinkles to prove it
Fellow traveler: A member of AA, a recovering alcoholic
If I were president, there would be one brand of toilet paper: One of her soapbox speeches. Always made me laugh
Tapdance on your eyelids: What she would threaten to do to you if she got pissed off and angry
Staring at the inside of my eyeballs: To sleep
Valley of Fatigue: Getting sleepy
I’m getting in the car: Her oft-repeated threat that, if carried out, meant she was getting in the car and headed to do harm to someone. This one was especially used in the direction of Pat, who pissed her off to no end. So I would often have to talk Carla out of the treetops and convince her that it would NOT be a good idea to go to Pat’s doorstep and shoot her.
Paying for the sins of others: Her lament that other people were causing her discomfort. For instance, because Oxycotin has been so widely abused, it was that much more difficult for her to get her legitimate scrips filled in a timely way. Or the docs would hem and haw about giving it to her. Because “others” had abused the drugs, she was now paying for their sins.
Tut!: What she’d shout at the cats to get their attention and to reprimand them for doing something they should not be doing. Also worked well on sons and significant others.
Jailin’ it: If someone’s pants were droopy or falling down, they were jailin’ it, a la gangbangers or inmates who would dress that way for fashion
Beat it biscuit lips: What she would say to the cats if they were trying to beg for food, or to the kids if they were eavesdropping somewhere they should not be.
Arthur-it is: Referring to arthritis, especially with Molly
Fart smella: Her play on words. Instead of saying “smart fella” someone would be a “fart smella”
In addition to her shorthand expressions, she also had a nickname for many people:
Big Gay Al (BGA)
The Ungrateful One
The Divine Miss M.
The Crow Lady
The Bear Man
Plumer the Plumber
The Rat Bastard
More Than Just A Hat: A Story of Loss
Man in Mourning: Where Do You Put the Pepsi and the Pain?