I Gar-on-tee

NoOneOfAnyImport offers the opinion that Everything Sounds Better With An Accent. Pleasing pronunciations, of course, are in the ears of the beholder–not many on the far side of the Rhine, for example, find German to be a particularly entrancing patois–and most of us are unaware until we leave our provincial nests that folks from elsewhere might form phrases somewhat differently. Many moons ago, when I was undergoing basic training at Fort Jack with recruits from all over the country, I was flabbergasted when I was told by a mid-westerner in my squad that he could tell where I was from by the way I spoke.  “Whadda ya tawkin’ about?” I responded.  “I don’t have an accent–you do!”  At any event, NoOne’s essay got me to remembering one of my old favorites, the late Justin Wilson (pronounced Yus-teen), Cajun cook, patriotic American, Louisiana raconteur extraordinaire, and a man to whom I’d listen recite a Baton Rouge telephone directory.   Here’s a pair of Justin’s stories for you. Me, I’m gone go fix me some gumbo, I gar-on-tee.

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About Bob Mack

Retired since 2003. Military Service: U.S. Army, 36th Artillery Group, Babenhausen, Germany 1966-67; 1st Signal Brigade, Republic of Vietnam, 1967-68 Attended University of Miami, 1969-73
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14 Responses to I Gar-on-tee

  1. bydesign001 says:

    The father hear about on those chiro-practin’ people, you know?

    Good morning Bob, Thank you for the memories my friend. What a funny fellow, Justin Wilson was. I used to watch him for his jokes, accent which I loved to listen to and admittedly, his very interesting menu.

    I discovered Wilson one day as I was channel surfing. First it was the accent, then the size of the man and finally the alligator he was preparing that day. Being a native New Yorker, the alligator that nailed it since until that moment, it never occurred to me that people ate alligator. That being said, I am sure there are NY delicacies that shock folks from elsewhere as well.

    Justin Wilson is truly missed, accent and all. Laissez le bon temp rouler!

  2. samiam60 says:

    Ahahahaha, same for me Bob. My Boot Camp experience was hysterical being that we had a large number from New England and about a third from the deep South. I had a field day with them as they did with me. Great times back then, Great times. Thanks for reminding me of Boot Camp!

    • Bob Mack says:

      Great times in retrospect, SAMI. I don’t remember thinking they were so wonderful while I was going through them.

      • AFVET says:

        The wisdom that we have acquired allows us to look back on that time and realize that we have many more problems and responsibilities than then.
        In retrospect, basic training was one great experience, although a pain to get through it.
        Once through,.. it wasn’t bad at all.

  3. Thanks for the link, Mr Macky!

    I even like the German accent; I’ve known a couple ladies who sound so precise and exact, yet still soft spoken, in their German accented English.

    • Bob Mack says:

      But how ’bout when they get to speaking Deutsche? Here’s Mark Twain on German:

      “Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.”

      “Once the German language gets hold of a cat, it’s goodbye cat.”

      “In early times some sufferer had to sit up with a toothache, and he put in the time inventing the German language.”

      “I see now plainly enough, that the great pity about the German language is, that you can’t fall off it and hurt yourself.”

      Me, I used to be a G.I. linguist–I knew how to ask for a beer in English and 3 other languages.

    • AFVET says:

      The Australian accent has always been a lyrical respite from the stark British pronunciations of the words we are familiar with.
      Aussies are the ‘fly over country’ that Pelosi despises.
      They are the ‘good ol’ boys and girls’ of England.

      • Bob Mack says:

        Speaking of Aussies, I like this piece, by Paul LaForrest, Royal Australian Regiment:

        Xin Lỗi (‘Sorry About That’)

        Xin loi in Vietnamese (pronounced ‘zin loy’) literally means I’m sorry. The term became popular between locals and the westerners during the Vietnam War (especially with the bargirls and soldiers on leave) and usually was extended to the expression….’xin loi about that’! It was a friendly sarcasm meant to infer that in fact the apology (for perhaps some minor slight or lapse in etiquette) was not really genuine…..more of a ‘tongue in cheek’ apology. It was usually expressed with a degree of friendly humour intended. This poem is a light-hearted look at this expression.

        As I was standing at his desk,
        Confident and calm;
        He handed me some papers,
        Three stripes upon his arm.
        So I asked this ‘Sarge’ politely:
        “Just what does this all mean,
        Now I’ve passed my check-up,
        And this course through which I’ve been?”

        He smiled up at me,
        Then held out his right hand,
        Saying: “Congratulations son,
        You’re off to Vi-et-nam!”
        I replied: “But I don’t wanna go, ‘Sarge’,
        I love Austral-i-a;
        Don’t wanna tread on punji stakes,
        Or catch bloody malar-i-a!”

        “And in that stinking humid place,
        There’s a shortage of cold beer;
        It’s either too damn flamin’ hot,
        Or ‘friggin’ rainin’ so I hear.
        Don’t wanna be caught up,
        In those bloody firefights;
        As for flyin’ up in choppers,
        I’m terrified of heights!”

        He snarled: “Xin loi, you’re an Uc-dai-loi!
        You’re off to Nui Dat!
        Just ‘di di mau’, right now!
        Sorry about that!”.

        At Tan Son Nhut, the airport,
        ‘Twas hot, though not ‘The Wet’,
        And this F.N.G. had landed,
        At the start of bloody Tet.
        From the Reinforcement Unit,
        Better known as A.R.U.,
        I was slotted with these strangers,
        Not one bastard whom I knew.

        My new corporal there informed me,
        A smarty smirk upon his face:
        “My forward scout, he’s just been killed,
        So you can take his place!”
        So there I was, on patrol,
        When not in base camp lines,
        Looking out for Viet Cong,
        Booby traps and bloody mines.

        On a guard duty, one night,
        Alert I tried to keep;
        Then suddenly, I was ‘gonkin’ off’,
        Sound a-bloody-sleep.
        On a charge, by my new ‘Sarge’,
        Fronted up to my O.C.;
        What could I say, so loss of pay,
        And 14 days C.B.

        I thought: “Xin loi, Ol’ Boy!
        I’ll shoot through from Nui Dat!
        And ‘di di mau’ to Vung Tau!
        Sorry about that!”

        In ‘Vungers’ town, all around,
        Many stalls and funny shops;
        A place to hide, dark inside,
        I was running from the ‘cops’.
        I strolled into a bar,
        I was in my ‘civvy’ clothes;
        I had one thing on my mind,
        That every soldier knows.

        Looking all around,
        There were offers of all kinds;
        Stuck upon the walls there hung,
        All these funny signs.
        A price for just a haircut,
        And another for a shave;
        Prices for any bargirl,
        And special ‘favours’ that she gave.

        A mama san then asked me:
        “Hello ‘G.I. John’!
        Tell me what I do for you,
        And where you coming from?”
        I said: “I think I’ll have a beer!”
        So an ice-cold can I sank;
        “And by the bloody friggin’ way,
        I’m not a bloody Yank!”

        “I’m an Uc-dai-loi, xin loi !
        Down from Nui Dat!
        I ‘di di mau’ to Vung Tau!
        Sorry about that!”

        A pretty little bar girl,
        Came and sat upon my knee,
        And after making small talk,
        Asked: “You buy me Saigon Tea?”
        I replied: “O.K., I’ll pay,
        Though then I gotta run!”
        She said: “But I wuv you!
        I think you Number One!”

        She cuddled up on my lap,
        And whispered in my ear:
        “If you wanna pay for me,
        We go my place outta here!”
        I knew this scam, no fool I am,
        So said: “Now look here Honey!
        I’m an Uc-dai-loi from Woy Woy,
        Who’s got no bloody money!”

        “I no believe, you betta leave!
        Hey! Maybe you ‘cherry boy’?
        If you no pay me just ten dollars,
        You’ll be pretty soon xin loi!”
        Though I tried in vain, to her explain,
        She sooled M.P.s upon my trail;
        They’d called the roll, I was A.WOL,
        And now I’m back here stuck in gaol.

        She’d said: “Xin loi, Uc-dai-loi !
        ‘Cheap Charlie’ go back to Nui Dat!
        You di di mau, from me now!
        Sorry about that!”

        Glossary:
        ‘CB’ Confined to barracks
        ‘DI DI MAU’ Vietnamese for “go away”, “get out”, or “piss off”
        ‘NUMBER 10!’ A term used by Vietnamese Nationals to express their feelings of Australian troops, when they were not given gifts. When gifts were provided, Aussie soldiers were suddenly NUMBER 1!
        ‘SAIGON TEA’ The term used to refer to what the bar girls drank when they encouraged a lonely soldier to buy them a drink. Some of the more naive soldiers would become angry when they found out that the booze was really tea and that their attempts to get the girls drunk and seduce them were for naught. They were getting screwed but only metaphorically. The girls would allow various degrees of groping depending on how much tea you bought.
        ‘UC DAI LOI’ Vietnamese for “Australian”.
        ‘VUNGERS’ The city of Vung Tau: Used by Aussie soldiers for ‘Rest & convalescence’.

  4. TexasFred says:

    I am from Louisiana originally and I had the unique experience of getting to spend an evening with Justin Wilson, and I reminded him of meeting him once before, when I was 7 years old and we lived in New Iberia, La. and my Dad was working for an oil company…

    Wilson’s stage act was just that, an act.. He wasn’t a Cajun, he was from Mississippi, and worked as a *Safety Man* in the oilfields of South Louisiana…

    He picked up the accent and had a flair for comedy and Cajun cooking… The rest is history…

    • Bob Mack says:

      Fred, being from Louisiana & Texas, you might like this recipe from Justin Wilson: Crawfish Chili

      2 lbs. chili meat;
      2 lbs. crawfish tails; 3 TBS chili powder
      1 tsp. finely chopped garlic; 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
      2 tsp. salt; 1 cup dry white wine
      1 TBS soy sauce; Water
      1 tsp cayenne pepper; 1 tsp lemon or lime juice
      1 tsp dried mint; 1 cup chopped onions
      1 TBS dried parsley; Bacon drippings

      Brown chili meat in bacon drippings. Combine all other ingredients with meat & bring to a boil. Then simmer for a few hours.

      MY VARIATION: Busha Brown’s Scotch Bonnet Pepper Pukka Sauce in place of cayenne, it’s hotter & has more flavor. I add 1 tsp. of Lea & Perrin Worcestershire sauce, & add 1 or 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate – gives the chili a darker color & a better depth of flavor. I drop in a handful of chopped green onions. I also use a handful or so of cornmeal to thicken.
      –almost forgot…sometimes I also toss in a can of Ro-tel with green chiles.

  5. TexasFred says:

    You would desecrate crawfish with chili and vice versa? My GAWD man, have you NO class at all?? 😛

    • Bob Mack says:

      Ha. Sometimes I eat the mudbugs on the side. I’ve got a formula somewhere in my files for Gunpowder Chili. It can either be spooned over rice or used to help with stump removal.

  6. AFVET says:

    Bob, the poem above is killer !
    Oh, those blessed bar girls !

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