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Talking Among Friends

My brother had an odd assortment of colorful friends with names like Bobo and Joe the Pump and his best friend, my uncle Henry. They weren’t the most educated bunch, but my brother did have a command of the English language thanks to my mother who made sure that we had every advantage in the world and who read and studied voraciously. She is probably the reason that I am a writer today.

I remember challenging each other with the Reader’s Digest Word Power quiz where you were given a series of words and tried to match them to the proper definition. My mother always scored at the top, or in the parlance of the digest, excellent. We also laughed at the antics of Borscht Belt comedian Norm Crosby whose bit was always based on his malapropisms of the English language.

Recently, my mother discovered a sheet of paper on which my brother had written down some of the same type of malaprops uttered by his friends and other acquaintances. I do remember some of these, having worked with some of these guys. What follows is a list of words and definitions as hilarious today as when I first heard them.

Not surprising, this is kind of a Mexican thing or New Mexican thing because of the mixing of cultures and languages. There were always superfluous phrases like old Viejo, two twins or La bajara hill and there were always the Spanglish versions of words, like pumpa instead of bomba for pump and chezmosa instead of raton for mouse.

This list is just some of my brother’s favorite malapropisms gathered over years of hanging out with the vatos in his circle.


Jet rag:verb
Weariness from a long trip.
The dude got the jet rag when he drove from LA back home in one day.

Rand: verb
Past tense of run.
I was riding my bike down 4th street and that guy almost rand me over.

Mongoose: noun
A tropical fruit.
I went to the store and bought some of those mongoose.

Medium: noun
A concrete or asphalt divider on a road or highway.
I was trying to make a left turn and I rand over the medium. (Attributed to my Uncle Henry)

Windshield window: noun
The windshield on a motor vehicle.
Can I wash your windshield window for a dollar?

Baboons: noun
A tall grass that grows in hotter regions and has hard, hollow stems.
I got some baboons growing in my yard by the ditch.

The Ku Ku Klax: noun
A secret US organization of white protestant Americans who oppose peoples of other races and religions.
That vato’s a cross burning Ku Ku Klax.

Corrosion: noun
Dishonest or bad behavior by those in authority.
We have to stop the corrosion by the politicians.

Crawpot: noun
A clay pot designed for slow cooking.
I put some potatoes and meat in the Crawpot this morning.

Starvation Army: noun
An organization dedicated to helping the poor.
She had to go get some clothes from the Starvation Army.

Over floated: verb
When a liquid spills over the edge of its container.
I left the water on when I answered the phone and the bathtub over floated.

Dissmolished: verb
To destroy something.
I worked to the wrecking company where we dissmolished buildings.

Incumbent: verb
To sit or lie in a reclined position.
I’m going to get me one of those incumbent bikes. (Attributed to my Uncle Henry)

Principal Charles; name
The second oldest male member of the British Royal family.
That Principal Charles has really bug ears.

Winding: verb
To continually complain in a high pitched voice.
Pendejo. Quit your winding.

Squinging: verb
To partially close your eyes to in order to see better.
The sun was so bright I was squinging.

Nervous Wrecking: adjective
A condition or situation that causes worry or anxiety.
Eeee, this job is nervous wrecking.

White Whalers: noun
A dog bred for its aggressive nature.
I like pit bulls, but I like white whalers better.

Miss two goodie shoes: noun
Someone who is always ready to do the right thing no matter how uncool.
He’s such a lambe. A regular two goodie shoes.

Hibernating a fugitive: verb
Hiding a wanted criminal.
The chotas were trying to arrest my girlfriend saying she was hibernating a fugitive.

Neggar Swartzman: name
Actor and former governor of California.
Neggar Swartzman is my favorite movie star.

Horrors Corpus Crispies: noun
A legal demand from a prisoner to ensure that they are not being falsely imprisoned.
I told my pinche lawyer to write me a Horrors Corpus Crispies.

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Jose Antonio Ponce
Author. Actor. Musician. Songwriter.

Jose is the author of three books, Lunch Hour, 53 and From father to son and has been a working actor and musician for the past 35 years.

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