Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Washing with snow?

I'd like to share something that I learned today, an idiomatic expression.

So, we've recently gotten more snow than I have ever seen in Lugoj, that is to say about 6 to 8 inches. It's been snowing the last few days pretty much non-stop, which, compared to last year, has been a virtual blizzard. And with all this snow, the kids have been understandably giddy. So have been some of the teachers (the ones who don't have to drive, I suppose). Walking to school has suddenly become quite perilous, not only because the ground is slippery and the snow is constantly flying in your face (regardless of which direction you're heading), but also because snowballs are darting in every direction, and it doesn't much matter who you are; if you get caught in their crossfire, you stand a very good chance of being hit.

Heading to school this morning, I noticed some children in a snowball fight. Luckily they were too busy targeting each other to notice me. One of the kids got in a good shot, whacking the back of another's head. The victim spun around in a fury, yelling "arghhh! te spăl eu!" This would litterally translate as "I'm going to wash you." "Huh?" I thought as I stared at them for a moment. Later, I figured out he essentially meant, "I'm gonna get you back!" However, at that moment, I was mildly confused to hear such an expression in that context. In any case, I didn't think too hard about it and continued on my way.

I had essentially forgotten the whole episode until I was suddenly reminded of it at school later in the day. It was Sima--the rascally mathematics teacher who always wears expensive suits--that reminded me. During one of the class breaks he had run outside to pick up some snow, and snuck back into the building with a few snowballs. Practically without warning, he pelted some of students who were close to him in the hallway. I quickly jumped for cover behind a movable billboard on which the results of a recent mathematics contest had been posted. The ambush ended when Sima ran out of snowballs. Deeming it safe, I came out of hiding. When Sima saw me, he said, "Oh Mike! Had you been here just a little earlier, I would have washed you." I could have guessed it, and I told him there was good reason I didn't want him to see me. What immediately struck me was that he had used the same turn of phrase as the children I'd seen on the sidewalk--his reference to 'washing' jumped right out at me. "What a funny way to refer to throwing a snowball," I thought. But, as far as I can gather from these two snow-throwing experiences, this is the standard way to describe the act of hurling a snowball at someone.


Dookie said...

"Washing" someone with snow isn't merely hitting them with a snowball, but rather sneaking very close to them, and while holding the back of their head with one hand, rubbing the snowball in their face with the other hand.

Another way of "washing" someone (although this is mainly done to girls) is knocking them over in the snow, jumping on them and trying to get as much snow on their face as possible before they get away.

As you can see, getting washed is far worse than just getting hit by a snowball.

Great blog by the way, keep it up!

Jen said...

the term i know (in bucharest) is "sapunit" (soaping) which means... well, exactly what dookie said. i'm a girl, and the 'regular' treatment involved both getting thrown into the snow and having a snowball rubbed in the face. just one more reason to hate winter for...

zamolxis said...

BS! Girls love it! It's a sign of attention! You get to wash (that word, again) your sins in a few weeks, when you give them a Martisor.

You should try this sport, before the snow goes away!

Mike Nork said...

So cruel!

Rachel said...

This actually reminded me of an English (read: British) expression a colleague of mine told me about. Instead of saying "you got served" or "you got owned" like Americans do (after pelting someone with a snowball perhaps), they say "you got rinsed." Sounded strange to me, but maybe a British teacher wouldn't have been quite as surprised at the expression. ;)