I’ve been saying the word “yikes” a lot lately. Too much. Way too much.
The Peanut screams, “Yikes! Inside voice please!”
D says he has to work late, “Yikes! That doesn’t sound like fun!”
Ms. B. remembers at 9:30 pm that she has a paper due tomorrow, “Yikes! Better get a move on, kid!”
I don’t know where it came from, but it’s become this annoying automated tic. One more thing I berate myself over. Every time one slips out, I think, “Stop it! Stop using that word! What’s the matter with you, woman? Try a little creativity in your vocabulary, for cripe’s sake!”
You would be appalled at the number of ways I find to say “Yikes” on any given day. Yikes! How annoying!
The following is going to feel like a non-sequitur, but in the messy filing cabinet of my mind, it’s related, so just roll with me here.
When I was in 5th grade, I intentionally and methodically adopted an obnoxious laugh for the express purpose of annoying my mother. (Sorry, Mom!) It was a gasping, wheezing donkey-bray of a laugh. Super-effective in terms of achieving new heights of parental annoyance. At its height, when I would perform ‘the laugh,’ I got to gleefully watch my mother’s eyes close while she struggled to maintain her typically saint-like levels of patience and understanding. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing.
After a couple of weeks of this, however, I decided enough was enough and I’d probably pushed my mother as far as a child who values her life should. I decided to retire ‘the laugh.’
Only the problem was, I had used the laugh so much, had so effectively trained myself to laugh in that obnoxious bray, that it had inadvertently become my default laugh. I’d be on the playground, my mother nowhere in sight, and a friend would tell a joke. Instead of my previously normal giggle, ‘the laugh’ would come rushing out of my mouth. I no longer sounded like an 11-year-old girl. I sounded like a highly-entertained mule.
I had to retrain myself to laugh like a normal, socially-acceptable person. Those first few weeks, a normal laugh was the one that felt weird and unnatural. D says that when I giggle now, I sometimes sound like Betty Rubble from the Flintstones. I personally don’t hear it, but it sounds like an annoying idea. Is that my ‘real’ laugh? Or is that the way I trained myself to laugh in the 5th grade? I’ll never really know, which is a weird thing to think about.
I don’t know why I’m sharing this story with you girls, and I’m not really sure how to wrap this post up. Is this a cautionary tale about not working too hard at annoying your mother? An inspirational story about changing the things you don’t like about yourself?
I also have the annoying habit of trying to look for too much meaning in the written word. All signs point to the fact that this is probably just another story about what a dork your mother is. Yikes!