Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ant, Aunt, Auntie

There is a Dunkin' Donuts commercial featuring two rough around the edges fellows, one testing the other on his New England-ese.  "War-chester.", says one and the other replies, "Woosta."  Again, one says "Ant.", the other "Aunt."  On it goes until they both say "Wicked!" knowingly and quaff their D&D scalding hot coffee.

I love this commercial for its tongue in cheek poke at our colloquialisms and especially for that reference to  the proper pronounciation of Aunt .  As a child, my sisters and I would twice annually visit our Pennsylvania cousins.  I would hug and kiss my Aunts Nancy, Eilene and Dee while the cousins would hug my mother Ant cousins would make fun of our New England accents and I in turn would poke some fun at their mid-Atlantic, Jersey-esque articulations.  They drank melk, wooder and pop...while we Massachusetts malcontents consumed milk, wawtah and tonic.  There were debates over Jimmies versus Sprinkles, Milk shakes versus Frappes, Pizzas versus Pies, Calzones versus Stromboli and the nearly come to blows Subs versus Hoagies.

We kidded each other lovingly and would head off to play our regional versions of 1-2-3-Red Light or Red Rover (Rovah) and flashlight tag.  We'd squirrel away into secret hiding places to create and then tell ghost stories.  We'd tease each other, tell on each other and defend each other to the end...we were cousins...13 of us ranging in ages with nearly 20 years separating the oldest and youngest!

But the one nudgy point was that I, a proper New Englander, refused to cave into pronounciation pressure and stuck to my guns about how to say Aunt..."ah-nt".  My sisters caved to the cousin peer pressure...Ant Nancy, Ant Dee and so on...but I would not capitulate and I got teased and tempted and they tried to trick me...but I stood fast on this...After all an ant is a bug...not the precious magical mother figure who wielded the same potential for maternal powers as your Mom (Mum, Mommy, Momma...) and seemingly amazingly cool because of the powers she had over your own mother!  My Mom was the baby of her family and they did not let her forget it...much to our delight!  This was worthy of a distinguished pronunciation even if I were the only bearer of the sounds.

Over the years, the word aunt has deepened in its meaning for me and it has morphed somewhat.  I am Auntie. Aunt Alice Anne didn't roll off the tongue, but add the "ie" and woo I am, Auntie! I was so assertive with my new nomenclature that all the other women in the family (in-laws and out-laws included) are called Ants and Aunts...I am so synonymous with Auntie that I am the only aunt who can be called just Auntie.  There are Auntie Judy, Auntie Jane, Aunty Karen, Auntie Jeanne, Aunty Patty and Aunty Kathy...and then there is me, Auntie Alice Anne, aka A3, or yup, just Auntie. When the kids talk about Auntie, they are talking about or to me!!! Is it no wonder that this is one of my favorite words...and personal identifiers?  Being Auntie ranks right up there with being wife and Mom.  I love my nieces and nephews.  I love spoiling them when I can.  I love surprising them with a care package or impromptu card to mark an occasion.  I am immensely proud of them. I worry about them.  I love them the way only an auntie can. 

Recently, I became A3 to the power of one more.  My eldest neice and her husband have blessed the family with a baby boy.   Great Aunt Alice Anne...certainly has a distinguished sound to it, but little MJ, just call me Auntie and I'll come a running to sing you a song and tell you a story just like when your mommy was a baby!  I am a Great Aunt in every sense of the words... just ask my brillant, good looking, talented, sweet nieces and nephews.  But in case you didn't know, I prefer being a wicked great Auntie! 

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