What Happens When You Get a Bug in Your Ear

One of my very favorite southern sayings is “like a duck on a June bug.” You know, he was all over her like a duck on a June bug or like white on rice. I have friends who had a great time as kids tying strings to the legs of June bugs and watching them fly in circles.

These things make June bugs seems charming, even cute.

They are not.

This summer I came face-to-face, well, ear to body, with a June bug. We went to the woodshed and I survived, but it wasn’t pretty.

JPEG image-7BC76CC603FD-1I was enjoying an evening at the Romp Bluegrass Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky. It was a lovely evening, despite the tiny little chairs we brought to sit on for hours. In an effort to relieve our rear-ends we laid on a blanket in the grass. It was just like a country song – laying under the stars with your boyfriend listening to music and enjoying a warm summer night. It was until, without warning, a bug flew into my right ear.

This wasn’t just a bug crawling on my head. This bug dive-bombed my ear and was in my ear canal before I could raise my hand to swat it away.

What happened next was mostly a blur of me crying, screaming, and dancing around trying to get the moving, wing flapping, biting, and scratching bug out of my ear. I can only imagine what the other concertgoers thought as they watched me. In a moment of desperation I opened our Nalgene bottles and poured water in my ear. By the time we reached the security tent the June bug stopped moving. I was relieved that the pain had stopped and horrified that I was bleeding from my ear and had a dead bug in my head.

The kind security guard called for a cart to take me to the EMT (the first aid tent closed at 8:00 p.m.) and talked to me until it arrived. Very encouraging. But that feeling quickly faded when the cart arrived. The driver, a man I can only describe as Bubba, told me to get in. He was accompanied by what appeared to be his girlfriend and her little sister, who was holding a dog. I explained the problem and the little girl, sitting next to me, said “you can get a bug in your ear?” I braced myself.

We started down the narrow road, carving a path through the concertgoers who were surely camping (all night – long after first aid closed). I noticed the cart slowing and heard Bubba call out to a man at our right as he stopped the cart to say, “hey man how’s it going?” I was near the end of my rope, as nicely as I could I said “dude, seriously?” He promptly starting moving and announcing that there was a “woman in the cart who is bleeding.” This did not do much to move the crowd.

We arrived at the ambulance. The EMT was not there. But in the distance we saw a small form running toward us. He arrived and while nice he seemed about 19. He looked in my ear and promptly declared that he could not see anything, “could not do anything” for me and that I would have to go to the hospital.

We explained that we are from out of town and aren’t familiar with Owensboro or the hospital. He attempted the give us directions, which culminated in, “Do you have GPS? Use that.”

We walked silently back to the car. In the dark. In the middle of a field in Owensboro, Kentucky.

I started to cry – the I-am-at-the-end-of-myself slow weeping – as I opened my Google Maps app and found the directions to the hospital. It was nearby.

I walked into the emergency room and spoke to the nice lady at the registration desk. I gave her my information and story with big tears rolling down my cheeks. She sweetly asked if I was alone, I said no and that I am from out of town. She tilted her head and looked at me as only an elderly southern woman can and said slowly and sweetly, “bless your heart.”

Then we sat in the waiting room for an hour, my head in the only position that wasn’t painful and bleeding on my boyfriend’s shirt.

After an hour they called my name. I went back and met with a cheery physician’s assistant who wanted to know “what’s going on tonight?” Through my now dry swollen eyes I explained that there is a bug in my ear.

He took a look in my ear and proclaimed that he “could see something brown and it could be a bug, but it could be earwax.” He does not know how close he came to getting smacked in the face. I calmly but condescendingly explained that I could feel the bug moving in my ear (back when it was alive) and I am certain that is not earwax. Suddenly, he was a bit more motivated to take a closer look.

We went into a procedure room where I promptly refused to lay on the bed because there was a distinctive looking black hair on it. We moved rooms. He was annoyed. I was indignant.

I laid down on my side in the clean room. The PA took forceps with a long nose and immediately dove into my ear. I immediately screamed and insisted on sitting up. As I did I watched as he examined a tiny piece of something he pulled out of my ear, which he described as “not part of your ear.” Duh.

Meanwhile, I was reeling from the pain. He did not warn me that taking whatever was in there out would be far more painful than when it went in (and that was very painful). I asked, nearly begged, if there was another way? He offered irrigation but said it might cause the bug to break apart and that did not seem desirable.

So, I braced myself, squeezed my sweet boyfriend’s hand, and employed my yoga breathing as he made 3 more pulls from my ear. The last drew out the bulk of the bug’s body to which he exclaimed “oh my God.” Turns out, it was a bug. I exclaimed, “thank you, Jesus.”

IMG_9437

I thought we were finished, but he explained that he thought that there was a leg left behind in my ear (we counted only five on the bugs body). He could not go searching for it because of the blood and swelling and danger for my eardrum, but “it isn’t a big deal, it will come out in wax.” Easy for him to say, he didn’t have a bug leg in his ear.

JPEG image-3E68EC8E76E1-1I was release from the hospital a short time later. The next day we returned to the festival (I wore ear plugs), listened to some great music, and celebrated me not having a bug in my ear.

I am still okay with bugs and my ear no longer hurts, but I’ll never hear the old saying “put a bug in someone’s ear” quite the same way ever again.

Advertisements

App-uh-latch-uh

Appalachia is more than a place. The Appalachian Mountains are rich with customs, food and dialect that is not found anywhere else. Those mountains are at the core of the people who were raised there or have adopted it as home. The mountains become part of who we are, why we are, and how we go about what we do.

Great Smokey MountainsOne of the things that many Appalachia natives are particular about is how we say our name. This is also something that many people from elsewhere do not understand. In Central Appalachia, where I am from, it is app-uh-LATCH-uh, not app-uh-LAY-sha. I am told that there are people in Appalachia who were taught to use the latter pronunciation. Fair enough, I obviously get regional dialect. Please understand, when you say App-uh-LAY-sha in much of Appalachia people, in addition to knowing immediately that you are not a local, may think you are trying to be fancy or worse. How you say the word Appalachia matters.

As you can tell, I and many others feel strongly about this word. So, when stumbling around on the internet I found a company called Pronunciation Tees I was super excited. What do these people do? Well, they get me and my people. Pronunciation Tees produces t-shirts that proudly display the proper pronunciation of Appalachia – [app-uh-latch-uh].

App-uh-latch-uh

The moment I saw this shirt I had to have it. Oh, and it gets better, the mission statement of the company is to

Help raise awareness about the infection known as [app-a-lay-sha].

I encourage everyone to support these brave and creative folks. It’s cool, it’s fun, and it’s just plain right.

Southern Sayings That Never Get Old

I arrived in my hometown for the holidays and it took only moments for me to feel completely at home. I went directly to an event and heard a family friend declare, in that precious Appalachian twang, “I swanny.” If you do not know, “I swanny” is a Southern exclamation  akin to “I do declare” or “I swear.” My Grandmommy was partial to the term and it always reminds me of her when I hear it. She had a way with words and her favorite sayings have been adopted by my Mommy, Sister, and me. Grandmommy was funny, direct, and very-southern. We buried her 12 years ago tomorrow: December 31, 2000.

Grandmommy holding me on Easter Sunday long ago.

Grandmommy holding me on Easter Sunday long ago.

In her honor, I give you twenty of my favorite Southern sayings that I hear when I am around home (I’ve included a little context for fun).

Wishing your evil boss would take a hike? Grandmommy might say, “well, old devils never die.”

If you find out that they sent your redneck cousin to finishing school, then you’ll probably hear “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

Upon seeing so-and-so’s new toy-sized dog Dad would say it is “ugly as a mud fence.”

At my house if you are a smart aleck you will be told to “hush or I’ll box your jaws.”

I’ve lost some weight and my mother, who was walking behind me through a public parking lot said, “your daddy must be a coal miner, cause you have some slack in your britches.”

The Bible says “you reap what you sow,” but my Mommy says that “the mill stone grinds slow, but it is always grinding.”

When you tell my Mommy about your dad, brother, husband, or boyfriend getting up at 3:00 a.m. to sit in a tree stand for hours in the cold, she might say that “men lose their minds when hunting season starts.”

My father constantly teases my mother about buying him a truck; she now responds without fail or hesitation “I tried to get you to buy a truck.” Who knows if this is true.

Got an ex-boyfriend who won’t work? Grandmommy would say that “he’s about as useful as a tit on a boar hog.”

Beware entering the presence of an older Southern woman when looking tired, unkept, or sick, else you are likely to hear “I swanny, you look rode hard and put away wet.”

My Auntie O was always extremely thin and she used to complain that my Daddy would tell her that she was “so skinny she could use a clothes-line as an umbrella.”

If you threw away Daddy’s plate before he was finished with it he’ll be “as mad as a wet hen.”

My mother buys groceries as though the store will disappear tomorrow; so, when you find a rotten cucumber (the worst) in the back of the fridge it will “gag a maggot off a gut wagon.”

The next two are not particularly kind, but often used regarding someone’s boyfriend, kid, neighbor, or husband. Lord forgive us. “That baby looks like someone beat it with an ugly stick” or “He looks like he fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch.”

Remember the aforementioned boyfriend who would not work? Well, it might be because “he’s as dumb as a box of rocks.”

Everybody likes fine things. Not everyone can afford them. Around here that is having “champagne taste on a beer budget.”

In my Southern home laziness was shameful and you never wanted to be accused of sitting “there like a bump on a log.” I had a high school algebra teacher who was missing two fingers on one hand. She used to pound that fist on her book and tell us not to sit there like a “bump on a pickle.” She, too, was not a fan of laziness.

Long engagement? Taking too long to make a decision? If so, then Mommy would say that “it is time to fish or cut bait.”

The most Southern phrase of all: “Bless your heart.” This phrase, or the just as effective variation of “Love your/his/her heart,” can and often precedes a compliment, criticism, or tall tale. Other times it is an exclamation, a thank you, or a sincere prayer.

What phrases or euphemisms remind you of your family?

Bless your hearts for reading and have a happy and safe new year!

Tickled and Other Words Midwesterners Don’t Say

I recently spent a lovely evening looking at art with fellow Southern refugee, CLW. When we are together there is no absolutely no dead air and the conversation moves quickly from one topic to the next. Like, it will make your head spin quickly. But neither of us really notice, we just roll with the laughter. As we chatted a few classic Southern words crossed my friend’s lips. Words that I never hear anymore, because Midwesterners just don’t talk like Southerners. Here are a few that I miss . . .

No one in the Midwest is “tickled.” Well, they might be but instead they would say happy, amused, pleased, or excited. In the South we are tickled if we get a sweet gift or a nice compliment. Or as you might recall from the epic Southern tear=jerker, Steel Magnolias, if you are Southern you might find yourself “tickled pink.”

Also, no one here gets any “sugar.” You know, come on over here and so I can “give you some sugar.” Sugar as in affection – hugs, kisses, love. It is sweet! Literally and figuratively.

I have not seen anyone in FW that would admit that they were “fit to be tied.” If you are angry then you are if you are fit to be tied.

When someone stays out late having a “big time” my Daddy would say that they “laid out.” If Daddy says you laid out last night then he also thinks you were drunk.

Piddly. No one says piddly in the Midwest. It means little, insignificant, or inferior. Like she came over here on that piddly ole bicycle or your raise might have been piddly. Piddly always reminds me of kindly . . . that box is kindly small for your present.

If you don’t know the name of something or someone it is a thingamajig, whatchamacallitwhatshisname, whatshername, or a hootenanny. Of course, you can also lay out and have a big time at a hootenanny.

Now, I don’t recommend or advise that you call people names but some women are huzzies. my Mommy on occasion calls The Queen a “huzzy” when she is being difficult. It means a female of ill repute, if you will. People don’t say that here.

If you are poor in the Midwest, you are just poor. In the South “you don’t have a pot to pee in.” We like graphic images.

In the South after dinner, you might “be about to pop” or be “full as a tick.” Here you just had too much to eat, booorring.

If you are talking ugly about someone in the South you are probably “bad-mouthing” them.

Where I am from “cain’t never could do nothing.” In the Midwest you do hear an “ain’t” here or there but folks here have not graduated to “cain’t,” as in cannot, yet. We like to compound our negatives, proper English be damned.

What’s really sad is that no one here knows what it means if you are gonna “run down to the Pig.” Ahh, I miss the Piggly Wiggly. “The Pig,” as it was affectionately referred to, is the first grocery store I remember. Later it changed to the Food City, but it took years for Mommy to stop calling it The Pig.

Southern talk never gets old and it always sounds sweet even when it is not. That is why when I chance to spend time with my fellow Southern expatriates arises I jump on it like a duck on a junebug!

Here’s a little country from one of my favorite Southern women (introduced by my favorite muppet) . . .

 

Family Talk, Southern Style

I have established that Southern speak is its own form of English. Where else does your mama look at you and say something like “well, honey, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”.  I submit to you, no where.

Now imagine not just one Southern mother in a room but several.  Then imagine that they are all related.  Then add in their husbands, children, and grandchildren.  This is like a festival of sayings, slang, and general entertainment.

I was recently home for an extended visit due to the death of my beloved Auntie O. In the South when death occurs many visits and countless food deliveries follow. Luckily, my family loves to eat and there are plenty of us to do it. I have 13 first cousins ranging in age from 6 to 58, 14 second cousins, and 5 third cousins with one on the way.  These are just the cousins in my immediately family – on my father’s side they go on forever. In fact, there is one holler in town where I am related to everyone in it.  These 33 cousins are just the beginning. And, I know that this is not the proper legal designation for cousins – no need for some smart wills and estates lawyers to correct me here.  Of all those family members at least 29 were present at this sad occasion. In one house. Amongst the crowd were three lawyers, three physicians assistants, three nurses, five teachers, two ultrasound technicians, a speech language pathologist, nurse practitioner, a pilot, and a “hell of an engineer” as my Daddy says.

Below are some random comments that I overheard throughout one evening (please note that there is no way for me to put all these into context).  This will give you a taste of a close Southern family in all its glory.  Enjoy!

“I reckon we can tie a chain to it an pull it out?”

“That was the time we got that VW Beetle stuck in Bath County during the snow storm, that is what they are talking about.”

“We lived at the good end of the bottom, on the other side of the restaurant.”

“What is that (referring to a cousin’s tattoo)?”

“Donald slept in the Rambler that whole summer.”

“You were a happy baby, you just did not sleep.”

“Am I related to all these people?”

“Which one is your Dad?”

“Are you all still talking about the dogs?”

“Don’t give away my pickled beets.”

“Does he [vegetarian cousin] know that those green beans were made with fatback?”

“No, but I can’t wait to tell him.”

“She knew how to boss.”

“She hid the chicken and dumplings.”

“She made me give her a dip . . . the color drained out of her face . . . then she was laid out on the front porch throwing up.”

“This is no place for someone with a headache.”

“I can’t tell you I love you enough.”

“I can’t listen enough.”