Doopalus (Plus)


So I’ve been thinking about the title of this little page, and I think I might keep it. “Doopalus Plus” was what I settled on as a working title since every other thing I thought of from behind the kindly-blurred rose-colored long-stemmed glasses empty of fall’s first big hearty red wines seemed absurd and/or self important. “Part or Particle”? A reference to the all-encompassing divinity of ones thoughts courtesy of Emerson, leading then down the mental primrose path to dangerous thoughts of how much dear old Uncle Walt would have loved blogging (sidebar, though that universalist primrose path of smug meta-awareness dead ends with a lame referential song of myself blog title- who knows, “Loafeing on the Grass”? “The 29th Swimmer”?- there is a path at the Botanic Gardens, wouldn’t you know, seemingly my favorite place, which has Grauman’s Theater-esque name plates of a bunch of Brooklyn-born celebrities, the list of which is awesomely fascinating- starting with Whitman and including Woody Guthrie, Abe Vigoda, and Tony Danza).

So what is Doopalus Plus? Well, “doopalus” is a bastardization of the punch line of one of my family’s stories which is as follows:

My uncle was doing a radio interview in Los Angeles, and had brought along his twin sons, at that time both 10. He had taken them to Laker’s Games and shown them the town and when his part of the interview was over, the interviewer asked the boys, both in the studio during the live broadcast, how they were liking their visit. The first son repiled, “Oh we’ve been having a great time here! We went to a basketball game!” and the DJ repeated the question to the other son and he leaned into the microphone and said:

“Poop Doop”.

Doop and its variants has since become a stand-in for any variable X, when your tongue searches out a word but can’t quite find it in time doop is an acceptable substitute, it can be et cetera anything or nothing or noun or adjective adverb gerund and, of course, interjection. I suppose it’s a lowbrow part or particle, and where there might be ne plus ultra there will always be plus doopalus, doopalus plus.

So then, the idea of Doopalus Plus brings me, upon considering, to a lovely and often-late-breaking discovery of family specific vocabulary. That is a word or phrase used in one’s household extensively when you’re growing up and then you only realize when you get a bit farther out into the world that not everyone knows what a “crappity” is (for the uninitiated, a “crappity” is the name for the place where all of your important miscellany collects, in my house growing up my father’s crappity had keys, guitar picks, a schubb capo, letters, change, plats, swiss army knives, less recent laminated wallet sized pictures of my brother and me, and little mag-light flashlights that you could unscrew the top and turn into a candle).

These words are marvelous because they’re usually fun to say and have a great marbles-in-the-mouth quality that comes from childish wonder and also because there is usually not already a good word in existence that so perfectly crystallizes exactly what the family word does. A Crappity isn’t just where you put your keys, it’s also a place that is exempt from straightening, an ad hoc filing system, a place of interesting artifacts both of the day and of the life of the crappiteer (a pearl handled knife that belonged to my grandfather and shearling lined gloves in winter and half filled out pads of paper free from Binswanger Glass).

Obviously, my family isn’t the only one with it’s own vocabulary (though old boyfriends still make fun of my father for telling them to “cool their motors”). The Easons from North Carolina bring us the effortlessly judgmental “Queebie Food”, a sneering bacon umbrella covering particularly bilious health food sprouted grain bread, coconut water, vegetarianism, and any food -free (gluten, fat, whey, lactose whatever). My cousins, the Chappells, gave us the “zerbert” (which has become more universal, and is onomatopoeia at its most 6th grade Language Arts definition).

Apparently, we are not alone.

Published in: on October 12, 2009 at 2:46 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Not from my family directly, but from the wonderful precocious mind of my best childhood friend Beth. I don’t know if these ever stuck with anyone else, but they certainly did with me:

    Vinunya- an alternate name for an egg cream (whose etymology is worthy of a blog posting in and of itself)

    Jody- the pet name given by Beth to the long plastic piece attached to the bottom of the refrigerator intended to either collect or deter dust (i’m not quite sure which), but which would always become detached and present itself (herself?) as an admirable plaything

  2. Late breaking family word from the Rubins of Lake Anna: “dicket” meaning one of those slanty attics in the eaves of a room that have a short door and usually have in them a) a bunch of crap/wrapping paper b)an awesome fort c) Harry Potter d) all of the above.

  3. Not really an unknown word but, in our family, instead of the dictionary noun, it’s used as a verb. So, let’s give full due to the corollary cousin to the concept of crappity, the word “corral”, as in, “Yikes, there’s stuff everywhere and we’ve got people coming over. Time to corral.”

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