Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My First Ayup

When I was a little girl, Hallmark produced a made-for-TV movie based on the book Sarah, Plain and Tall. I was obsessed with that movie. My parents taped it for me, and I watched it over and over and over. I couldn't get past the part where they go to visit Sarah's family in Maine. Those Maine people in that movie--man, they were crazy. They had funny accents, and when they answered questions with an affirmative they said Ayup.

"What IS that?" I asked my mother. "I've never heard anyone talk like that. Is ayup even a word?"

"That," my mother told me, "is how people in Maine say 'yes.'"

So when I learned I was going to be moving to Maine, I was prepared for the ayup. In fact, I expected it, but my first semester left me scratching my head. I hadn't heard a single person utter that strange version of yes.

What I had heard was wicked. I'd heard wicked about eight thousand times. Everything was wicked cool, wicked awesome, wicked sweet. My students would utter that with completely straight faces, unaware that they sounded like they were reciting monologues from Good Will Hunting. They'd hustle into the classroom and say, Aww, man! Did you see those wicked cool moves Tommy was doing in the parking lot? They'd say, Jess, that article you assigned was wicked funny! They'd say, I'm buying that wicked awesome video games this weekend! They inserted wicked into any place that would--in polite society--be served by the word fucking.

But today as my students were working on an in-class writing assignment, I caught the tail-end of a conversation between two guys. One of them, clearly excited about whatever the other had said, smacked his hand on the desk. "Ayup!" he exclaimed.

I was so thrilled. I wanted to march over there and chuck that student on the chin, ruffle his hair, and give him a treat for being just exactly what I wanted him to be, just exactly what I'd expected all this time.


Diana said...

I had students at Syracuse who inserted everything with a dose of "wicked." I sort of like it. It's better than the Midwest-ism I've shuddered to hear myself say: "Want to come with?"

Jess said...

Oh, I said "Want to come with?" way before I ever came to MN. I don't know where I picked that up.

The "wicked" is fine--I just feel like I'm in a movie that takes place in Boston.