Whole Lotta Nothing And The Barnyard Funk (Add That To My Collection Of Future Band Names)

I cannot tell you why but I just googled "is Ryan Seacrest Ryan Seacrest's real name?" (Spoiler alert: yes.) I have no idea why I did this---I have no interest whatsoever in Ryan Seacrest, other than a passing query about whether "Seacrest" was a real name or a made-up one---but I have been kind of spacy and dazed all day, which is probably one part Dayquil, one part grogginess from the Nyquil (is it normal to have such vivid dreams or did the spirit of Jim Morrison slip a tab of acid inside my half-closed mouth as I was drifting off?), and one part disorientation from the fact that my left ear blocked up a couple of hours ago and has yet to unblock, no matter how many hold-your-nose-and-breathe-out-forcibly maneuvers I do. Those get you some funny looks in traffic, by the way. There are many San Francisco motorists who were probably under the impression tonight that my car smelled really, really awful. Look at her, honey, she's holding her nose! Must have left a pint of milk to go bad in the backseat again!

I have nothing to say, so I'm not sure why I'm typing, but it was either this or get sucked into Ryan Seacrest's Wikipedia page, so here I am. And excitingly enough---for me, not you---I'm sitting on my new couch! We went with the darker fabric called Geo Raven, if you can even cast your mind back three weeks to remember that I was all fraught about it, and I would like to offer a hearty high-five to all Geo Raven proponents, because it's perfect. (Actually, let's just nod warmly at each other instead. Wouldn't want you to catch my germs.)  Yesterday also brought the delivery of the rug I'd been visiting for months on Overstock---the morning I woke up to find the email that it was back in stock again was AKIN TO CHRISTMAS, I tell you---and it is, if I do say so myself, beyond my wildest dreams. Actually, it's not beyond my wildest dreams, because I had my wildest dreams last night on Nyquil and they were pretty wild---I took my cat on a road trip through Vietnam in a big open-top jeep with various people I used to go to school with in England and haven't thought about for years---but it's still pretty awesome all the same. The house is finally, finally starting to come together a little bit, and I am very excited to have my parents coming up this weekend so they can see the progress.

(Also because they are bringing my turquoise bicycle! Hallelujah! I must find a basket and a baguette posthaste!)

**********

Anyway, let's talk about "just about," shall we? You know what, I categorically refuse to believe that I was wrong, despite the fact that 1,106 people said I was. The 554 who said I wasn't were overwhelmingly English (or Canadian or Australian or Irish, or raised by someone who is) and so we are just going to have to agree that the use of "just about"---in the sense of being just about able to do something---is a particularly British construction, the sort of subtle language quirk that divides our two fair nations. Commenter Saucepan Man said it best, I think, with his assertation that:

"...both the English and the Americans use 'just about' in the context of time to mean something that is about to happen but hasn't happened yet. 'I was just about to brush my teeth' was a good example somebody gave. Both sides of the pond would have no disagreement with that; we'd both assume the action hadn't yet been attained or completed.

When 'just about' is used outside the context of time and as a statement of, or as a response to, a question about achievement, then the English have a separate construct which gives it the meaning of being achievable. ("I can just about reach it" or "Can you reach it? - Just about")

Interestingly the Americans, by and large, seem to continue to adopt the same construct as the time-related usage in this situation. The action can't be attained or achieved."

This is the kind of thing that makes me want to buy a white lab coat on ebay and set up some socio-anthropological language experiments, because it turns out that even when our vocabulary is the same, the meaning of that vocabulary can differ wildly.

I have always long been fascinated, for instance, with how harmless and cutesy the word "bugger" seems to be in the U.S. "Awww, look at that little bugger!" cooed my (very conservative, buttoned-up) boss at my first job out of college, while tickling a client's toddler under the chin. I, meanwhile, just about fell out of my chair---actually, off my stool: I was a receptionist so I had to sit on a stool---because calling a client's toddler a little bugger in the UK is....well, I guess what I'm trying to say is that the client wouldn't be your client for very long. Back me up here, British people. I don't even need a poll for this one.

*************

Wow, for being about nothing, this blog post is turning into the longest blog post in the entire world, so I guess I will wrap it up by telling you briefly about my 31st birthday, which happened last Tuesday, when I still had full functioning access to my throat and both ears. Entre nous, I was just the slightest bit melancholy about turning 31, but only because 30 had been such an excellent year, filled with fabulous new things and opportunities, probably my favorite year since nineteen, if not my favorite year altogether.

I find you can pretty easily fend off the melancholy if you eat and drink enough naughty things, however, so I started the day with a pain au chocolat in bed, marked the middle with a picnic of Sentinel sandwiches in the park, and ended with the most enormous smorgasbord of cheese you've ever seen in your life, because that is what I chose for my birthday dinner. Sure, we could have gone out, but I had this nostalgic recollection of my first birthday in San Francisco four years ago (four years ago!) wherein I ran wild in the cheese store, and so we did that again, stopping at both Cowgirl Creamery and the Whole Foods cheese counter where I made pleasant banter with the on-duty cheese enthusiasts---on-duty cheese enthusiasts always make pleasant banter; it must be a requirement of the job---and bought (along with some salami and olives and marcona almonds) no fewer than six different varieties, one of which, I kid you not, sold us solely with its promise of "a barnyard funk." 

A BARNYARD FUNK! I'll take it!

It was really, really, really, really, really strong and stinky, but my god, was it delicious, particularly with some fig jam to balance it out a little, and I only wish I could remember the name of it, but it probably doesn't matter because I can just walk into Whole Foods and follow the barnyard funk when I want to buy it again, which I realize doesn't make it sound particularly appealing, but OH IT WAS.

There are lots more pictures of my birthday, most of them food-related (like you're surprised), but for now I shall have to bid you adieu and swallow my magic green Nyquil pills and catch you on the flipside after a night of sweat-soaked hallucinating. That's normal, right? Tell me that's normal.

Filed Under:
1
Caroline
Feb 15, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday, Holly! Hau`oli La Hanau! I must say, your cheeseday sounds like fun, and one I may have to recreate on the next anniversary of my own birth.

I'm sick, too, and very sympathetic. But I don't have any Nyquil. I would like some, I think, because my bird and I (I don't have a cat, but Rooney likes to travel) sure could use a road trip.

2
Kate (and Ben)
Feb 16, 2011

So, I recapped my beloved Rock Star on the entire "just about" debate. I read directly from your original post as I didn't want my opinion (which is that it TOTALLY and ABSOLUTELY means, "I can just barely reach that item.") to muddle his thoughts. And before I can even get to how very right you are, before I even conclude the paragraph, he interrupts with, "WHAT!?! Oh, hell no! She can't get out of the car!" And we are both born and bred in the South of these here United States. Which is to say, I'm completely outraged that double the number of people [congrats, by the way, on your readership] said "just about" means "not really at all."
Also, I'm super jealous of your cheesy birthday dinner.
Also also, Happy Belated Day of Birth!
-K

3
AlisonC
Feb 16, 2011

Ok I'm Irish and agree with you on "just about" and did vote on your behalf. And also "bugger"?? hahahahahaha

4
Helen
Feb 16, 2011

I lived in Canada for a year and was constantly amazed at the subtle differences in vocabulary between there and the UK. My absolute favourite was when a friend informed me he was "going cottaging" that weekend. He meant he was going to his cottage by the lake for a few days; I understood it in the British context (which, for those who don't know this meaning, just think of George Michael and public toilets, and then you're there). I lost my eyebrows in my hairline for a good while until, thank goodness, he elaborated on his meaning and I realised it was another example of the way the English language adapts itself in different countries!

5
Vicki
Feb 16, 2011

Definitely with you on bugger, I was amazed the first time I heard it used in America in a family friendly context. But I guess the Americans are just as surprised when they hear us asking someone for a fag! :0)

6
greyfavorite
Feb 16, 2011

Nyqul is the dream maker, or at least the dream revealer. Every time use it I discover something new about what happens in my head while I sleep.

And, oh yes, keep the posts full of nothing coming!

7
Monica
Feb 16, 2011

I feel your pain... since I'm in bed, hugging my Kleenex box, eye my Theraflu night medicine and hoping that I live to see another day. Unlike you typing hurts, so I better stop now..before my drug infuse self types something incoherent.

8
Erin @ Fierce Beagle
Feb 16, 2011

I've had to downgrade to children's Nyquil, just to keep the sleepy-time hallucinations more manageable.

9
dmnuckels
Feb 16, 2011

I feel the same way about the cheese enthusiasts at the Whole Foods cheese counter! Even states away (I'm in Utah), those guys can always make pleasant banter.

10
Shut The Folk Up
Feb 16, 2011

The only thing that makes a blocked ear redeemable is that INCREDIBLE feeling when it suddenly becomes clear again, and you remember the simple pleasures of being able to hear out of the left side of your head.

Hope you feel better soon!

11
Kate
Feb 16, 2011

When I first read it, I thought you said the cheese had "the promise of a barnyard fuck"
Whoa, I thought, interesting marketing slogan.

12
Jessie
Feb 16, 2011

I have a friend who, while visiting Ireland, lost her favorite pair of black slacks from the clothes line. She ran to the next door to ask if he'd seen her black pants, only to realize later that the poor man looked so uncomfortable because she was, in fact, asking him if he'd seen her panties. Whoops. I moved from Louisiana and found out what I and other sane people call a flip-flop, the entire state of Wisconsin calls a thong. Indeed.

Lesson: be patient, and precise, when speaking to people who are from anywhere different than you....even when you're from the same country!

13
Kris
Feb 16, 2011

I voted with you and use "just about" in the same context even though I'm American (of English and Irish decent). If I were going to say that I haven't yet done something yet I would say, "I'm about to" or "just about to" not "just about". Without the "to" it doesn't make sense.

14
Sarah
Feb 16, 2011

I hope you feel better soon Holly. And dude, I have that rug in my new house. It sheds something fierce doesn't it? I keep vacuming up dust bunnies the size of enormous cats and I've had it for 6 weeks.

15
SuzRocks
Feb 16, 2011

Happy Birthday a bit late- Technically, on the 'just about' thing, you could call it a draw. Since you're English and all, you could claim you win in England and your husband wins in the U.S.- so you're both right.

16
NothingButBonfires
Feb 16, 2011

SuzRocks, that is EXACTLY what I claimed!

17
Liz
Feb 16, 2011

There's also that cute little word, "fanny."

18

The thing about which I am MOST EXCITED for my wedding???

I have a multi-hundred dollar budget for cheese. JUST FOR CHEESE!!! Cheese is approximately 1/3 of our reception menu, and I cannot wait to walk into Cowgirl and Whole Foods and go completely spend-crazy!

19
anna
Feb 16, 2011

Waa! Is that round uncut one La Tur? My FAVORITE. Happy birthday to you!

20
NothingButBonfires
Feb 16, 2011

Anna, I love La Tur too, but it's actually Cowgirl Creamery's Mt Tam: http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/cheeses.asp

21
beth g.
Feb 16, 2011

i'm american and i still think "just about" means i can do it but just barely. and be careful with the nyquil. i think i had the same cold and i never get sick. it's lasted three weeks and i think i'm just about over it. just about. but not quite. and i refuse to buy another bottle of nyquil.

22
Ivy
Feb 17, 2011

We grew up in the States, but my parents learned the Queen's English, so it was a strong influence in our use of words and pronunciation. (I remember having quite the argument in grade school with friends over the pronunciation of "aunt".) And then in high school, there was the Australian exchange student who shocked the teacher (and the class) when he asked the teacher for a "rubber".
Happy (belated) Birthday and I hope you shake that cold soon.

23
Mymsie
Feb 17, 2011

I was married to a Brit for 5 years so lots of British colloquialisms crept into my vocab, "dodgy" being my favorite. Anywho I just remembered that my ex would also say "only just" to mean "successfully but barely." Just thought I'd throw that into this roiling linguist stew! :)

24
agirlandaboy
Feb 17, 2011

I've got the same head congestion too. Ugh. Happy belated birthday! Thirty-one's not so bad. :)

25
Alecia
Feb 17, 2011

Happy Birthday! Cheese seems like a splendid way to celebrate! Add to that some wine and you've got yourself a party!

26
Ari
Feb 18, 2011

Happy Birthday!

I'm glad we've sorted out "just about". I figured it had to be a cultural thing when I went to the poll to emphatically agree with you and saw how many people did not. We use it in the British sense in my part of Canada, but we also use "bugger" in the cutesy way. Living in Britain now it has never gotten me into any trouble - I already knew its more troublesome definition. But it can be a total minefield. Having lived here for five years I just had a very embarrassing incident where I seemed to be flipping off my boss when I thought I was just indicating the number two with my fingers. Luckily it was seen as hilarious by all the Brits involved.

27
edj
Feb 18, 2011

Cheese! THat spread looks fantastic. I could just about get outside of all that! Or something.
Happy belated birthday. Hope you're feeling better soon--and good that you managed to enjoy your cheeseday before you got sick.

28
Marcheline
Feb 20, 2011

Regarding "bugger" - it means the same thing in America that it means in the UK. We just don't care. 8-)

Regarding "just about"... juggle it how you will, it still means "almost", which means "not quite", which means "not yet", which still means NOT. Until it's happened, it hasn't happened. And only time will tell...

29
Liesl
Feb 20, 2011

As a 19-year-old studying abroad in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, my American friends and I never got tired of saying "I need a ride, I've got a hole in my pants," and watching as the "colours" of our local companions' faces changed. Bonus points if you added: "Someone might see my fanny."

I love cheese, too! I have also found that the stinkiest ones have the best flavor.

Unfortunately, cheese is not very friendly to the weight moderation goal. :( But sometimes sacrifices must be made, no? The hips will have to deal.

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