Who Know?

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

I have many friends who are very funny. One of the things that tends to happen with my very funny friends is that there will be a funny story that can be boiled down into a single phrase that can be thrown out to make people laugh, just hearing that one phrase. That’s all you need.

Like one night when I was living in the Washington, D. C. area and one of our very funny friends wanted to go to a place for dinner that she was trying to talk everyone into going to, so she kept saying the name of the place. She was from Kentucky and she was boisterous (okay, she was loud) and this was when I was in my mid-20s so the odds are good that alcohol was involved. Especially with these friends. The name of the place happened to be Chicken City, so that’s what she kept repeating, loudly, in a drunken Kentucky accent.

CHICK’N ci-daaaay!!!!!!

(I wish I could do justice to her phrasing with my writing, but alas my Kentucky accent transcription skills are not what they need to be to make this happen.)

So for weeks/months/years after that all you had to do was say “Chick’n ci-daaaay” in your own pale imitation of our Kentucky friend and everyone would start laughing. (I find this especially funny given that we did not even go to Chicken City that night; our re-creation of our friend’s Chicken City call to action became its own thing, independent of any actual activity involving a restaurant with the name  of Chicken City.)

My friend Sue, who I also was friends with during that period of my life and who I have written about previously, made me laugh more than anyone.

I wish podcasts had been around then, I think Sue and I could have hosted a great show. We used to talk on the phone almost every night, usually late, because my roommate would be on the phone every night, talking first to her boyfriend and then to her parents. (This was back in the day when phones went with dwelling units, not people.) So I would be in my room and Lisa would knock and say, “Sue called, she said you should call her back. Do you want the phone?” And I’d say “Yes,” so Lisa would walk in with the cordless phone and hand it to me. Half the time I was already in bed (I used to be a normal person who had to get up and go to a job in the morning so I went to bed at a normal-person time) so I would call Sue back from the comfort of my bed and we’d chat about whatever was going on. Sue had worked on the (Bill) Clinton campaign starting in New Hampshire when no one gave him much of a chance of winning then when it turned out that he actually did win, she took a job with the Administration, so there was always some crazy government thing to discuss in addition to whatever was going on in our personal lives. So we would talk about the day’s news, personal and political, and invariably she would start talking about something that would end up being just so funny, I remember so often just laughing and laughing. It seemed a waste for the two of us to be the only people hearing these hilarious conversations.

One of the stories that Sue told around this time, that turned into its own catchphrase, was about her going to get a haircut.

I don’t remember all of the details — she went to a place that was a new place, or maybe the place had been recommended by someone but she hadn’t been there, or maybe it was a place she’d been before but her regular stylist wasn’t there. I don’t remember. But whatever it was Sue found herself at a salon sitting in a chair in front of a stylist she didn’t know. The stylist was a very nice, very young Vietnamese woman with passable but not great English language skills.

The stylist asks Sue what she wants done with her hair today. Sue does not have a strong opinion on what she wants done with her hair today, she’s willing to entertain options. This is why she goes to a stylist, so the stylist can tell her what she should do with her hair.

So the stylist asks this question and Sue says, “Oh, you know. It needs to be cut, I don’t have strong feelings. I don’t really know.”

The stylist stops and looks quizzically at Sue in the mirror. Don’t know?

She points to Sue and says, “You no know,” she points to herself and says, “Me no know,” then she shrugs and raises her hands towards her shoulders, palms up, and puts forth a deep, heartfelt query: “Who know?”

Like it is the world’s greatest mystery, what should be done with Sue’s hair today.

And Sue is like Uhhh is it too late for me to get out of this chair and go find a different stylist?

But she stuck it out and got her hair cut. And I don’t remember what it looked like, so that means it couldn’t have been too bad. And we got a good story out of it.

After that, whenever Sue and I were in a situation where we were talking about something that seemed exceedingly complicated, that we weren’t sure of, that we didn’t know the answer to, one or the other of us would shrug and raise our palms and say, “Who know?” Which would make both of us laugh.

I sometimes find myself telling that story to other people, lo these many years later, because I sometimes find myself putting my hands up and saying, “Who know?” and I feel like the catchphrase works better with the full story behind it.

Especially lately I seem to have been telling that story a lot because I seem to find myself using the phrase when talking about things that are unknown, or unknowable. Of which there seem to be many at this point in time.

You no know. Me no know. Who know?

Who know, indeed.

2 Responses to “Who Know?”

  1. judilyn Says:

    Catch phrases are what makes friends friends, and families close! I can’t imagine living without mine!

    Very enjoyable to read about someone else’s private phrases!

    Virtual hugs,


  2. lessisenough Says:

    Thank you! And to you too!

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