My mother - Nana as my children call her - is difficult to describe. To say she is emotional, passionate, funny, opinionated and unpredictable... would be a understatement. She is personality multiplied by 1000.
She was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria, has a Ph.d in Plant Sciences, and today has a thriving online business via eBay selling antiques and linens. She has lived in this country for about 40 years and has managed to avoid grasping American slang -- which makes everything she says... brilliantly funny.
Mom got her Ph.d when she was 45. She attended college the same time I did. At the same university.
I would often walk through the student union and find my mother at a table surrounded by cute college guys - all laughing up a storm at her jokes, wit and charm. And then, to my complete embarrassment, yell over the noise of the union and beckon me to meet "the boys."
I looked for the nearest exit.
So... now to our story about Nana wanting to use a bad word.
We were having lunch together one day and she got quiet leaned in towards me and said in a hushed voice...
Mom: I have to ask you something.
My heart is already pounding, thinking she has found out about something I've been doing in college that she wouldn't approve of... and there were many...
Mom: What is a prick?
Mom: What is a prick?
Me: Uhmmm... why are you asking?
Mom: Weeeelllll. In class today, the boys were calling Dr. XX a prick. And I didn't understand what they were laughing about. Is a prick funny?
I'm still trying to decide how to handle this conversation. As I mentioned, my mother can be unpredictable - so who knows where this could lead - like back to stuff I have done that she would not approve of...
Me: Well, yeah. It's not something nice to call someone.
Mom: Yeah - I know that! But is it bad? Is it a bad word? Or is it something you can go to someone and say "You are a prick." Like, can I go up to Dr. XX and say "Dr. XX you are a prick."
Me: Oh. My. God. Mom. No. Do not go up to your professor and call him a prick. That would be bad. Very, very bad.
Mom: (now in a hushed voice again - as if we are talking about something really super dirty. She is now very intrigued) So - what is a prick then?
Me: Oh God mom. Why do you have to do this to me? Why can't you ask Dad about this stuff.
Which reminded me of the first time I saw the F word scratched into the back of the seat on the bus in about 1st grade. I came home and asked her what it meant. She said she didn't know. Then she asked my dad. Who explained it to her in Arabic. She looked horrified. He turned to me and said - "It means tutu (which was the family word for penis). But don't use it - because it is a very bad word for tutu."
Come to think of it, tutu sounds like a pretty weird word to call a penis.
Anyways, back to our story.
Me: A prick like calling someone a tutu. But not in the way we use the word tutu. Like saying, you are penis - but worse.
Ok - bear with me now - I'm going to try to write this so you can hear her accent.
Mom: Ooooooooohhhhhh. Vedy Goude. Aheye seee...
Mom: Weh-llll.. Dr. XX es eh preek.
We stare at each other for a moment... and I see her eyes begin to narrow. Shit. We are taking a turn in the convo...
Mom: (now in her angry voice) How doo you node dis wurd? Huh! Deed we teech u dis wurd? U r using dis wurd? Shem on u!
See? What did I tell you? Totally unpredictable.
And pretty damn funny.