HENDERSON, Nevada (MindaNews/02 July) — It’s raining in Oklahoma. The daily flood warnings striking an anxious fear of mother nature’s wrath is a constant reminder that we are a small speck in a sea of sand. It’s the end of May when we arrived in that part of middle America. June’s impending arrival in the offing, a reminder that half the year has gone by and so much is still undone.

Our road trip from Las Vegas, Nevada to Hominy, Oklahoma, took two days to accomplish. The stopover in Albuquerque, New Mexico recharging our energies for the last leg was eventful only because of the quick run to the Dog House. An otherwise nondescript place in what looked like an older part of the city, known to us only through the TV shows Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

A quick check-in at the inn upon arrival, half-unpacked, we drove to the parent’s house, and wished we had come for happier times. A family in crisis, (for my ‘bestest’ friend) not only for living so far from aging parents, but also a cancer of deathly proportions. This was not a visit for pleasantries and touristy stops. This was a mission of sorts. In more ways than one, to try to boost morale more than anything else.

The first day was catching-up and a hospital visit. Making ourselves available for whatever was needed. The second day, back to the hospital, errands and a grateful visit to a museum. Great day for a much needed refueling of my painting slump. The remaining days in a blur, mostly, of more hospital visits and errands and setting up of things and some gardening and meeting friends and relations. And, of course, a most memorable lunch at a Tulsa tradition and Oklahoma icon, Weber’s. Those frozen mugs of root beer cannot be surpassed…!

Amidst all the above, the road trip became too, a strange and precious acquisition, to my mind, of linguistic figures of speech that was not only amusing, but also an illuminating track into the peculiarities of speech when taken in its immediate milieu. Though particular to the family, it brought to the forefront, the ever changing flexibility of language as a dynamic force in the midst of human communication.

It was exciting to discover Americanisms that was not even familiar in a general sense. Identifying themselves as Southerners, not only because of their proximity to Kansas, but also for their firm beliefs in biblical teachings, it was an especially unexpected unearthing of some really interesting and precious colloquialisms that could only come from an ingrained habit of channeling frustration, irritation, even anger in a manner less likened to offensive expletives than we are used to. That, was meant only to discipline or comment on something in a negative way.

A “bologna slap” would have to be the first on the list. Here’s one example that is still swimming around in my head. That, if all my memories were suddenly whisked away in Alzheimer’s vault of stolen memories, this one would stick to the part of the brain that would not let go.

Has anyone even heard of a “bologna slap?” Or, has tried to do a “bologna slap.” First time we heard this, we wondered what it was all about. Apparently used more often in the family to refer to, “stop bothering me right now”, it was first used when Mom was preparing sandwiches and was holding a slice of bologna in her hand. One of her sons tugged at her for attention, and, in her frustration at having to do several things at the same time, uttered these words, “Will you please stop that, or I’ll slap this bologna right at you.” And so, the now oft used “bologna slap” was born.

“That woman was so offensive that I’d have given her a great big bologna slap if she had gone on with her silliness.”

“A bologna slap is what you’ll get from me if you don’t do what I say!”

“What a bologna slap wouldn’t do to put some sense into that boy’s head!”

This is just the beginning. The list grows a little bit longer each time we go on a road trip to Oklahoma. And, we continue to learn that language actually communicates more than it’s literal sense.

Happy Father’s Day! (Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Margot Marfori is an author and visual artist from Davao City. She is currently based in Henderson, Nevada.)