Saturday, October 23, 2010

All Right!

all right [awl rahyt]*:
- adverb
1. yes; very well; OK: All right, I'll go with you.
2. (used as an interrogative or interrogative tag) OK?; do you agree?: We'll deal with this problem tomorrow, all right?
3. satisfactorily; acceptably: His work is coming along all right.
4. without fail; certainly: You'll hear about this, all right!

- adjective
5. safe; sound: Are you all right?
6. satisfactory; acceptable: His performance was all right, but I've seen better.
7. (informal) reliable; good: That fellow is all right.

- idiom
8. (a) bit of all right, British. quite satisfactory (used as an understatement): The way he saved that child's life was a bit of all right. 

* Frequently misused as a single word: "alright". Acceptable in informal writing, but not in formal writing.

“Some men are all right in their place--if they only knew the right places!” -Mae West

Everyone has their own individual set of habits and expressions. I like to think of it as a sort of waving flag to indicate which neuroses we adhere to in order to get through any given day. Poets rhapsodize about the way their beloved tucks her hair behind her ear just so. People with really extreme or annoying habits and expressions either get interesting medications or their very own street corner for panhandling. In the normal everyday run of things, however, mostly what happens is that families harp on the other members' habits. We kvetch because we care, folks! Now, I'm not sure what my particularly annoying habits are - though I'm sure my family will be happy to tell you - but His Kiltiness has this one phrase that he throws into every hour of the day like it's a punctuation mark: "All right." [Katya here- he really does this all the time.  Pretty funny, and I would be happy to accept that in a spouse.  Even.when.it.gets funny/annoying. AND *I* don't have to live with it. Go Nina!]

Time to go potty and get out the door? "All right, everybody get shoes on!"
Introducing a totally random conversation topic? "All right. I've been thinking..."
Pointing out something important? "All right, look here."
Sitting down after a long day? "All right...."
Conceding a point? "All right, fine."
Coming into a room and forgetting why he's there? "Alllll right....?"
Introducing a serious discussion? "All right. Let's talk about our Zombie Survival Plan."
Sometimes he'll just stand in one place collecting his thoughts, repeating, "All right. All right. ...All right."

It's like the human equivalent of that little "loading" icon on a computer screen. He seems to use it unconsciously as a way to signal that he has completed a thought. Every.single.time.

Did this happy little phrase come with him when I married him? Honestly, I'm not sure. As anyone who has ever been madly in love will tell you, most of the beginning is a blur, with a mental overlay of Hallmark-esque moments in a happy little montage. Everything the Beloved does then is cute and funny and endearing. Years later, though, when you're one reflexive throat-clearing away from reaching for the bread knife, the thought bobs treacherously to the surface: Exactly how long has this nervous tic been going on?

I remember remarking a few years ago (possibly 6 - time is relative) that I was going to change His Kiltiness' name to "All right". He smiled, started his reply with "All right", and then we both died laughing. Since then, however, it's gone downhill. I've begun associating the phrase with unpleasant conversations (the kind where "we" need to do more work on something for some reason) [So wrong, on so many levels. No fair with the included *we*- Katya], so when the dreaded "All right" gets trotted out, I glare and grumble something about conversations on auto-pilot. The kids have begun treating the phrase as a synonym for, "It's time to stop having fun and go home." Even His Kiltiness winces when he catches himself saying it. Again.

And then it happened.

It was my brother-in-law's birthday, and my mother (Grandmom) was having us all over for dinner to celebrate. She's awesome like that. My children are deeply in love with certain cousins, and the feeling seems to be mutual, but we don't see each other all that often. When we do get together, to the kids involved it is an Event. On this particular occasion, His Kiltiness got drafted to do some overtime. Undeterred, I told him I'd bring a change of clothes for him and to just come directly to the party after work. He said all right (huh). So just as we were all sitting down to a movie after dinner, and Xena and her cousin Goldilocks were breaking out the plastic tea set, His Kiltiness arrived. He changed into his casual clothes like a whirling dervish, stopped just inside the doorway of the play room, and happily sighed, "All right!" Xena's head whipped around like a blue-eyed heat-seeking missile, and she ran over to where her father was standing - and punched him. Right.in.the.crotch. [I seriously can't stop laughing, and I have no clue why I'm hearing about this now instead of right then!!!! Poor His Kiltiness.]

Understandably, there was a moment of confusion and uncertainty regarding Xena's continued existence. Neither of us could figure out why she would greet her father, after a long hard day, with an unprovoked attack on the family jewels. Then, finally, it registered in my brain. I locked eyes with my darling husband, gave him the stinkeye, and asked: "Did you say 'All right'?" The lightbulb clicked on. Daddy sheepishly acknowledged that he may have uttered the fateful phrase. Xena's angry little life was spared. I had a desperate "coughing" [Yup, just like I did over the last few minutes! and no, I won't explain it to the short people in my life!- K] attack. His Kiltiness gave Xena a big hug and told her it wasn't anywhere near time to go home yet. And since then, he really hasn't used his favorite phrase much. I guess that groin shot really drove the point home.

I kind of hope His Kiltiness will start saying it again. Because just like that, it's back to being the funniest thing EVER.


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