Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Mean-Muggin' On Me

Caroline always keeps me abreast of the newest slang... or, if not the newest, then the funniest. The sorts of things that are said by the sorts of people I usually don't know, the flowers of hip-hop culture, as the slang has evolved over the last decade or two. One of my favorites of the past was "scrilla" for money, it's ever so much fun to say. Another favorite is "up in my grille." Not to mention the gales of laughter induced by referring to the police as "po-po" (which is even funnier to native Bay Areans of my generation, who might remember Popo the Clown who used to meet and greet and emcee at Children's Fairyland when I was a kid).

More recently, Caroline was telling me about an altercation between herself and a carload of young "straight up ghetto" women concerning a parking-space, and she described the three young women as "mean-muggin' on me all the way down the mall."

That's the best feature of hip-hop slang, you can generally visualize something from the phrase without ever having heard the phrase before... I could very easily see these three girls scowling at Caroline from within their late-model Toyota Celica, their eyes squinting and their mouths pursed, a trio of squash-faced Persian cats staring steadily as the car moved away. I could imagine them with elaborately unbecoming hairstyles and large swaying earrings, their heads gyrating on their necks as they denounced Caroline without using a single consonant.

Of course, some slang is meant to be obfuscative, a secret language among those using it. Yesterday as I was entering the Ross Dress for Less store on Shattuck in Berkeley, I overheard two young men talking; they appeared to be Berkeley High students, both tall and very slender African-American youths in voluminous track-suits. One of them asked the other where a third of their friends was today, to which the other replied "he's probably up at Skyline getting his salad tossed."

I'm still not sure what that means. I know what Skyline is, it's a high-school in the Oakland hills, which many of my friends attended. So if the absent third party was up at Skyline, perhaps it was to visit his girlfriend and the girlfriend was tossing his salad sexually; or perhaps he went up there to make trouble, in which case rival high-schoolers would be tossing his salad violently; or perhaps he was there under the auspices of intramural sports, and was getting his salad tossed on the playing field. He might have been taking his SATs or participating in a debate... or taking a cooking class, even. It could mean just about anything.

Nevertheless, the phrase has a certain poetry: he prolly up a' Skyline gettin' his salad tossed. I've been pondering it off and on ever since.

There's not much else taking up space in my brain today. The cold that was threatening all last week, when a cold would have been quite convenient, has decided to come to roost this week, when it is extremely inconvenient. This week is peculiarly packed with events, rehearsals and shopping and shows and birthday parties galore, and I have a sore throat and chills and stuffy head and congested chest. It's not pleasant.

I've always thought it very strange that having inflamed sinuses or clogged nasal passages will make cognition difficult... just because they're near each other doesn't mean they necessarily should effect one another. I mean, my eyes don't hurt just because my ears do, so why should my brain cease to function correctly when my nose is acting up? It doesn't make any sense.

I suppose, though, that the decreased cognition has more to do with the blood system being too busy with fighting off the germs and microbodies to bother bringing a bounty of oxygen to my little grey cells. But then, that doesn't explain why my allergies make me stupid, too.

Oh, well, yet another little mystery of life.

Tonight I am attending the first rehearsal for the HallowQueen Pageant, in which I (or rather the Baroness Griselda von Beitte-Meihasse) will be competing on October 31. Tonight I hope to get a better idea of how many people are involved, and what the show will be like. I do know that we are opening with a fairly elaborate production number, that's what the rehearsals are for. But besides that, I'm a little at sea... like, how many costume changes? How many people are performing as finalists? Are there semifinals as well as finals, with poise question?

Mostly, though, I want to size up the competition. It doesn't do to get my hopes up for winning unless there's a pretty good chance. Though it would probably be better for all concerned if I didn't look at it as a competition at all, just as a show. When I get competitive, I'm not at my kindest nor most serene. So perhaps I should just tell myself right now that I'm not going to win, that I'm not even going to try to win, that I'm just performing in a show in which no winning is involved.

And of course I believe everything I tell myself.

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