What does ‘Funny…Peculiar’ even mean???

I remember sitting on a beach in Morocco, jotting down interesting quips from the locals (‘Berber Logic’ we called it) and thinking, “Man, if I ever really DO write that book I keep warning people about, I know what I’m gonna call it…” and I jotted down two words: Funny Peculiar. It’s been eating away at me for a while now, and since there’s no book on the horizon, I decided that I shouldn’t let a perfectly good title go to waste.

The genesis of the pairing of these somewhat random words is one of my mama’s sayings that has stayed with me since I was old enough to get fussed at.  Someone will say, “You’re funny!” and she’ll ask, “Is that funny ‘ha ha’….or funny peCULiar?”  (You have to really stress that second syllable, or it won’t be South Carolina Mama-speak.) Now, I know that others have used this saying, or some version of it, forever… but no one could ever come even close to my Mama’s mastery of the term. All 4’11” of her gets behind those words, and like most good southern women, she gives at least one syllable a life of its own, as she delivers her somewhat judicial rhetorical point.

When I was younger, it was just something Mama said – kind of like, “Don’t make me come over there…”.  Later, as my life took a more adventurous turn, it resonated with me and I couldn’t get past the idea that, “Damn, I think I’M PECULIAR”. Now, it’s not that I can’t be hilariously funny when I want to be (ahem), but by that point I’d figured out that  ‘peCULiar’ equals ‘interesting’ most of the time. And interesting is a good thing. A very good thing.

Thank you Mama.


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