Show me your angry panthers

23:52, Feb 04 2013

One of the problems inherent with living in close quarters with another human being is that sometimes you get the feeling that maybe you've been spending a bit too much time in each other's company.

One of the signs that The Silver Fox and I might need to mix it up a bit and socialise is our tendency to play with language. We both like words and like playing with them (which you would think would make for endless hours of Scrabble-related bonhomie, but due to my hatred of losing we do not play this very often). Hence our conversations at home are peppered with odd uses of words and combinations that don't make sense to anyone but us.

Don't get me wrong, we're not Jodie Foster in 'Nell'. We're not living in the backwoods, speaking an unintelligible twin-language that only Liam Neeson has the patience and serious face to interpret. But I do sometimes catch myself in the midst of a conversation that is almost Python-esquely weird.

The latest addition to our shared vocabulary (and, I invite you to incorporate it into yours - if only to normalise my own behaviour) is Angry Panthers. Which of course is our way of saying 'Agapanthus'.

Even if you're not familiar with the name Agapanthus, you will have seen this plant. It is EVERYWHERE, at least here in Christchurch where, despite being classed by DOC as an environmental weed, the city council seems to garnish every available space with it. To be fair, it does produce a rather cheerful bunch of blue flowers and shiny green leaves, but it's bloody hard to get rid of, and there's just something about the way it seems to be on every street corner that engenders a healthy disrespect. It's basically the comic sans of roadside plantings. After years of not noticing it until someone pointed it out to me, I now hate it with a passion.

And so it was that last week as we were driving past about the 3rd clump of the stuff in 400m of road, that I hit upon the quite frankly ludicrous idea that we import trained vicious panthers to stalk the highways and byways tearing the dreadful stuff up with their claws. They would be our Angry Panthers, and like Siegfried and Roy we would grow rich, rich I tell you, from their performing prowess. And there would be matching sci-fi capes, oh yes.


While I still think it would be kind of great to have a troop of trained panthers viciously attacking weeds in residential streets and gardens, I'm resigned to this plan not really happening. And hence Angry Panthers has just become the term of ...what's the opposite of endearment? The term of animosity then, for Agapanthus. Therefore any car ride might reasonably involve pointing and interjections of "Angry Panthers", at any time. Which makes a nice change from "douchebag family stickers!" whilst still livening up otherwise dull trips to the supermarket.

Another term that has become our default word is 'Samoans' which replaces 'samosas'. I know that eventually the day will come when one of us will forget ourselves while placing our takeaway order at our local Indian restaurant and accidentally order some of our pasifika cousins as an appetiser. This is partly why we mostly play it safe by ordering bhajis or 'budgies' as we call them. Sure, we might sound as if we are asking for deep fried parakeets but at least there won't be overtones of cannibalism with the potential of creating an International Incident.

There are many more examples of this kind of shorthand between the Silver Fox and myself but they're so ingrained in my vocabularly that I'm having trouble actually remembering what they are.

Do you and for flatties or significant other have a shorthand understood by only you? What are some of the oddities of your shared vocabulary? Do you see agapanthus/angry panthers everywhere?