FLYNN: Thingamajig just gets a brush off

Features column

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

A thingamajig by any other name is still a doohickey.

“Honey, on your way back in here would you grab that thingamajig from the counter and bring it to me, please?”

A simple request. Perfectly clear. Apparently not.

He brought me a hair brush.

If I had wanted the hair brush, I would have asked for the hair brush. Men.

“Thanks,” I said, not wanting to sound completely ungrateful for his effort. “But I wanted the doohickey.”

“I’ll get it for you,” my daughter offered, returning seconds later with the doohickey that goes along with the thingamajig that fits on my camera. He looked at the both of us and shook his head.

“Oh, the doohickey. You said thingamajig. You should have been more clear.”

Is that sarcasm? Why, yes. I believe it is.

Everybody knows that all thingamajigs are doohickeys. Don’t they?

I grew up recognizing the thingamajigs, doohickeys and whatchamacallits in the world. Some call it another language altogether, these made up words used to describe thingamabobs whose real names you can’t quite put your finger on. Thingabobbers don’t just apply to things, they can be people, too. I can recall complete conversations that, to the untrained thingybobber translator, would seem totally senseless.

Take my sister and me, for instance.

“Guess who I saw the other day?” she implores. I don’t waste my breath asking, knowing full well she’s going to tell me anyway.

“Miss Doololly who used to live over there in Whatchamacallit,” she went on. “You know, the one with the daughter who had the doohickey removed last year?”

Sadly, I knew exactly who she was talking about. I think we inherited it from our mother

“You remember Miss Thingy,” my mother has said when relaying the latest community news. Hmmm. No, I don’t think I do.

“Yes, you do,” she reminds me. “She’s the one with the dojigger in her yard.”

Oh, yeah. I know who she’s talking about now. I reckon it’s a gift. Or maybe it’s residual effects of a childhood of growing up with six kids in the house. You never knew what you might be called. Mama always said she was lucky if she remembered her own name.

“Dooda! Get in here and clean up this gobbledeegoop before I tan your bohunkus,” she would proclaim throughout the house, loud enough for all of us to hear.

Dooda could be any of us – boy, girl or even the dog. Usually, more than one of us would show up to survey the gobbledeegoop to see if it was ours, because we sure didn’t want our bohunkuses tanned.

“What is a bohunkus?” my daughter asked years ago, the first time she heard me utter the word.


“It’s your behind. Rear end. Fanny,” I explained. She looked behind her as if to make sure she still had one.

“Oh, you mean hiney,” she said. Yes, hiney. That works, too.

It’s comforting to hear others communicating in this doohickey dialect. Complete strangers, even.

A woman in the store the other day stopped to ask if I knew where the bathroom was. She was holding the hand of a fidgety little boy with a video game in his hand.

“He needs to piddle. I thought the restroom was over by the paper thingymajigs, but I can’t find it. “

I told her I thought it was over near the aisle with the kitchen doodads.

“Now I remember,” she said. She said thanks. She was grateful.

Nice lady, I thought.

She kinda reminds me of Miss Doololly.

Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.