Monday, February 11, 2008

Jimmies vs. Johnnys

Those that know me know that my family originally hails from Arizona. We are transplants from the Desert Southwest and if you were to ask me which I prefer, I would respond with a resounding, “EAST COAST, ANY DAY!” I’m not a lover of three-digit days for months on end; not a fan of drought and dead plants; not one who enjoys being surrounded by asphalt and cement, white rock front yards, and stucco track homes. I prefer the four distinct seasons, rain, snow and beaches in the summer. I enjoy planting and gardening, and running barefoot through my green lawn in June. Honestly, I prefer almost everything about living in Massachusetts, with the exception of a few things. Language being one of them.

I remember when my husband and I first came to Massachusetts looking for a house back in 2000. When we checked into the hotel it was all we could do to keep from laughing out loud at the desk clerk who not only omitted all “huh ah’s” (her R’s), but added them back into words that didn’t require them; (sawrs=saw, worsh=wash). We went to our room and laughed hysterically at the accent, wondering how we would ever look people in the eye. Now of course, I don’t even heah the accent anymoah.

One thing I have not gotten used to, however, is the different words people use heah, versus in Arizona. It’s one thing my old home state has over Massachusetts, and that is words that make sense. Picture this:
My husband and I take our son for ice cream (which, we discovered, is only a seasonal favorite around here, and we had better eat up, because come October the ice cream shop owners skip town until April, leaving you stranded and only able to purchase frozen treats through the local frozen food section).
We order a scoop for my son and my husband.
“You want Jimmies?” I was asked.
“No,” I replied. “I want my own. The one I ordered.”
“No, Jimmies…you know rainbow, chocolate…Jimmies.”
“You mean sprinkles?” I asked.
“They’re called Jimmies,” was the retort.
Not where I’m from they’re not. They’re called, Sprinkles, because you SPRINKLE them on top of your ice cream. Where the hell did Jimmy come into this? You don’t “Jimmy” on top of your ice cream, and if Jimmy did something to it then I probably don’t want it.
Whatever. I got my son chocolate Jimmies. Fine.
I then order a shake.
“What do you want?”
“A chocolate shake.”
Blank stare.
You know, a shake, where you mix ice cream together with milk, and “SHAKE” it up so that it’s blended? A SHAKE?”
“Well, we don’t have shakes, but we have Frappes.”
“What’s a frappe?” I ask, becoming annoyed.
“We blend ice cream with milk and then you suck it through a straw.”
“So it’s a shake, then.” I say.
“No, it’s a frappe.”
Whatever. I order the damn frappe. It’s runnier than the shakes I’m used to, more like really cold chocolate milk, but I drink it.
I make a mental note; jimmies=sprinkles, frappe=crappy shake. I’m one step closer to being a native. Ha. Then I went to the doctor.
“Here’s the Johnny. Put it on with the opening in the back,” the nurse tells me.
“The what?”
“The Johnny.”
“You mean the gown?”
“Yes. They are called Johnnys.”
Not where I’m from they’re not. They are called gowns, “hospital gowns” to be more precise, because it’s an article of clothing that you wear when in a hospital (or a Dr’s office, which is very hospital-like). I’d like to know who Johnny is and if he is related to Jimmy, because apparently they were two very influential people back here on the East Coast. They were probably brothers who sat too long at the Union Oyster House and after having one-too-many Sam Adams (on Patriot’s Day no less), decided to screw with the English language.

Now I’m not a big Arizona flag-waver, but at least our words make sense. I have never accidentally ordered a hospital gown on my hot fudge sundae, nor have I asked where I should place the opening on my sprinkles. They are two very distinct words: hospital gown and sprinkles. Not Johnnys and Jimmies.
In Arizona we have shopping carts or shopping baskets (because you use them to SHOP), not carriages, which are devices you push a baby in, or a vehicle pulled by horses. Women carry purses, not pocketbooks—which by very definition is a book that can fit in your pocket ie: a wallet. In Arizona when we order coffee “regular,” it means NOT decaf; it does not refer to a size and it does not mean, “Please add as much cream and sugar as you think I’d like.”

It has taken some time to get used to these differences and to switch the way I order, ask or refer to things. (Although I cannot bring myself to call my purse, my “pocketbook.”) Would I rather live in Arizona? Heck no. I’ll deal with the differences in word choice and try to fit in, even if I’m not a “Townie.”


brandie said...

Hold on. Sprinkles are Jimmies here in AZ too! I can't believe you missed that. ; )

You make me laugh.

Rachel said...

No they're not. I have NEVER heard them called "Jimmies" in AZ. Sprinkles, sprinkles, sprinkles!

brandie said...

Come on! Everybody here calls'em Jimmies. What's wrong with the Stone family? =)

Rachel said...

Them that refer to "jimmies" are obviously transplants from the East Coast. Obviously.

Liz said...

Next time I go out, I am going to order a sundae with jimmies and wait to see what happens.

Fun Finds For Mom said...

As a near-native Arizonan, I have to concur that it's definitely "sprinkles". Also, thanks for adding a link to my blog!

Anonymous said...

good story I live in FL and we have always called them "JIMMIES" here in the south and that "Sprinkles" was a yankee version of the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Jimmies is the correct name for 'sprinkles" on ice cream, the name came from a young boy in Philadelphia who had cancer and was in treatment at one of the hospitals there and a man was at a local ice cream shop and was reading the newspaper about the boy and how his parents did not have enough money to pay for his hospital stay and the man said put some sprinkles for me on my ice cream and send the money to Jimmy and his parents and the the local newspapers found out what he did and wrote a story on it and the rest is history... Jimmies aka ice cream sprinkles

NewJerseyJesus said...

In 1930 James Bartholomew was lucky enough to acquire a job at Just Born, Inc. Bartholomew operated a machine that produced Born's latest invention, tiny hot-dog shaped chocolate sprinkly things. But what to call them? Born briefly pondered that question before deciding to accredit the name to the producer, Jimmy Bartholomew. The new product was named JIMMIES, which is still a trademarked name, but no longer made by Just Born.The dictionary definition for JIMMIES used to be "decorative things." They have also been called toppettes, shots, fancies, trimettes and sprinkles.

quodlibet said...

My New Bedfud husband asked a nurse here at an Arizona hospital for a johnny. The nurse drew a blank.......