Reading Mighty Girl’s recent post about “soup and mayo pigs” made me think about the first time I heard the phrase “bark like a dog monkey woman.”
Heidi and I and our mutual friend, Milton Glueck, were sitting in the Varsity Theatre at the corner of 24th and Guadalupe in Austin, Texas waiting for a showing of Reanimator to start. I don’t remember the extraordinary cirsumstances that got both Heidi and I to agree to pay good money to see a B movie creature feature, but I think it had something to do with the charisma and persuasiveness and general low-brow tastes of our mutual friend, Milton Glueck.
Anyway, we were sitting there joking about something, munching the top of our bucket of popcorn when the woman in front of us turned suddenly, giving us a quizzical look, saying, “Excuse me, did you just say, ‘bark like a dog, monkey woman?'” We assured her of the negative and that, if we had had a monkey woman with us, we would have had no desire to hear her bark.
Ever since then, we’ve used that phrase in situations when one of us mistakes what the other is saying
“Hand me that Spoon.”
“Whaa? Panty balloon?”
“Did you just say, ‘bark like a dog monkey woman?'”
All of this reminds me of how little anecdotes, like inside jokes, become part of the iconic language of a shared history, and how that language comes to demarcate a particular relationship’s space. After years together, the semantic field of a relationship grows and the number of words needed to convey complex ideas between the relaters shrinks. For instance, Heidi and I know exactly how the “Brian smell” and the “fish lamp smell” differ as unpleasant and acrid odors, with shared experience standing in for words of explanation. I can’t explain to you in words exactly how they’re different, but when Heidi reads this post, she’ll know exactly what I’m referring to.
You cannot replace the communication value lent by shared experience. “You had to be there.” has to be one of the truest phrases spoken in the English language.
And of course, I also wanted to get the phrase “bark like a dog, monkey woman” onto the Internet. I’ll be the first.