Skeet Shares
stuff I find interesting
Friday, December 29, 2006
Skeet is not a dirty word
I grew up knowing a few folks named Skeet or Skeeter. It's a pretty common name in the South. The first Skeeter I knew was a boy a little younger than me. His family, mine and several others from church would gather every month or so at one of our homes. The parents would play dominoes or cards while munching the elaborate party snacks our mothers had found in the most recent edition of Good Housekeeping or Red Book. Us kids, usually ten to twenty of us, had our own snacks and drinks set up outside. About the third time someone ran inside to whine to a parent or to use the bathroom, the adults would lock us out. We all thought that terribly unjust, but we loved being out in the dark with friends, playing chase, telling ghost stories & doing the things kids do. Eventually someone would get a scraped knee or the mosquitoes (skeeters!) would get too bad and we'd be allowed back inside, consigned to a den or rec room or garage with board games and a record player.

When I was old enough to go to school I met other Skeets and Skeeters. The name is assigned to both boys and girls, and I also knew adults whom we addressed as Miss Skeeter or Mr. Skeet. We children of the South in the fifties and sixties were very polite and always attached an honorific to the front of adults' names. Actually, not so much because we were polite, but because we knew we would be severely punished for failure to do so.

Here's the history of how I became skeet. It didn't come from my parents. It's the abbreviated version of the name my big brother gave me when we were quite young. He drug it out whenever he wanted to torture his little sis. Eddie and I were quite close and I loved him dearly, but he was a terrible tease. My parents named me Anita Bess. My mother, her mother and my great-grandmother were all named Bessie. Mom wanted the tradition to continue but hated the name. The adult relatives must have approved of her choice, because they always addressed me by the double-barreled version, and those who are still around do it to this day. It's a Southern thing. Our across-the-street neighbor, Mom's best friend, also did it. She was a New Orleans gal (we're originally from Texas) and she pronounced me in that dialect found only there and in Brooklyn, New York, so to her I was Neeter Bess. What a perfect opportunity she created for Eddie! The segue from Neeter Bess to Skeeter Bess originally came in a fit of anger, and fit nicely into a chanting phrase he created when he wanted to make me miserable. "Skeeter Bess, she's a mess ..." It followed me everywhere and was eventually picked up by neighborhood kids who liked torturing animals and small girls. By the time I entered junior high it had been forgotten by the masses, but Skeeter Bess had developed into a pet name at home. Eddie was the one who used it most often, partly as a reminder of his own cleverness in creating it, but mostly as an expression of affection.

I first got online about eight years ago. I tried on various screen names for size, but none of them seemed to feel right. Eddie had died a few years earlier, and I still frequently thought of myself as Skeeter Bess when I remembered our childhood antics. As I began to develop online friendships, it occurred to me that my screen name had been waiting for me in the wings all along. I became skeeterbess once again as a tribute to his memory. It is shortened to skeet or skeeter by many of my friends, but in my mind it's always the full moniker, and frequently chanted in Eddie's voice: "Skeeter Bess, she's a mess ..."

A month or so ago I discovered that skeet is now a dirty word. The definition bothered me enough that I thought about changing my name and the name of my blog. That was before I understood the wonderful world of page rank. I found something interesting when I installed a stat tracker. I get "hits" daily from folks looking for the street slang usuage, so many that google will eventually take notice and quit calling me a zero. I don't know of any adults who use the word that way and my blog is not addressed to those children, so I've decided to keep it. It has a long and mostly honorable history, and it's been mine longer than it's been theirs. If you get a little squeamish like me when you hear it used that other way, think instead of the affectionate teasing of a small boy for his baby sister. Think of skeet and come on by for a visit with a proud holder of the name. My google rank will thank you!

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16 Comments:
Blogger TW said...
Aww Skeeter! You can't have changed your name. That would rot.

Blogger Christine said...
I loved the Southern history lesson. I'm glad you didn't change your name either.

Blogger Allan said...
Heh, that's not what I thought- when you told me you were the 'bug lady' I reckoned it was from that...you're OK in my book under any name.

Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...
Glad you kept your name. :-)

Blogger C-dell said...
I never say skeeter to refer to mosquitos, but if someone says it I know what they are saying. We here in the south do have our own language. it is weird when you think about it.

Blogger Diana said...
I haven't been around southerners for a long time and so I forgot that skeeter also meant mosquito.

Heh. This was a cute story and now I'll remember it in just the way you ask. But honestly, I never knew that it was used in *that* way. There's also skeet shooting, which is how I've heard it the most when I was a kid. That and the boy by that name.

Maybe you're right about the problem being Blogger and not my computer. It was the first time something like that happened.

You tell some good stories. I'll be back.:)

Oh, by the way, did you wish me a Happy New Year in the Hawaiian language?:)

Blogger skeet said...
TW - Since you ask it, dear friend, it is granted!

Mahalo, Christine. Growing up Southern brings peculiar definitions and a great deal of humor to one's life.

LOL, Allan, you're not the first to make that assumption. But no, the name preceded the occupation by a couple of decades. Fate? Pre-ordination?

Whim, I'm so glad you've become a regular visitor. Seeing your name always makes me smile!

c-dell - I thought all Southerners called them skeeters, lol! Yeah, I think every region has a special language that outsiders just don't get. You should try being a haole and malahini over here! (hoale = white; malahini = newcomer)

Mahalo, Diana! Maybe I should start a campaign to restore skeet to its former glory, ya think?

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou is indeed Happy New Year! To you all, my friends!

Anonymous hyphen eight said...
Thanks for sharing this - and here I thought it was because of those pesky 'skeeters (Amos & Co.).

There are some folks who have some misconceptions about me because when you abbreviate hyphen eight to two characters there's a slight resemblance to a part of the human anatomy that's not an elbow, but I'm used to being hyphen and I don't really want to change it...

You choose a handle and get used to it, then someone else puts a spin you hadn't expected on it..what can you do? Don't give up your identity. :)

Blogger Pepper said...
I too that it was a shorten version of mosquito.

Brothers are wonderful. My brother stuck the name Pepper on me. I hated it. When he passed on the name became cherished.

Great post.

Blogger skeet said...
Hyphen8 - Not an elbow! You had me roflmao! And, yes, all the forms of the name are too interwoeven into my identity for me to give them up. However, if I'd known about the street usage, this place probably would be called skeeterbess's stuff. :0D I just thought at the time that skeet's stuff flowed more smoothly.

Pepper, I can't imagine you being anyone else! Funny, isn't it, that so many hurtful things we did to each other as kids somehow become magically endearing in our later years?

The link to Eddie tells more about our relationship. Yep, brothers can be pretty special.

Anonymous Nellie said...
Skeet, what a great and emotional story. As I sat reading comments about your brother, I thought of a few incidents involving my brother that has also died.

I'm not street smart or active and am too old to know the street definition of 'skeet'. Keep your name as you have decided to do and keep cherishing those memories.

Blogger Terri said...
What a fabulous story, and you my friend, are a great storyteller. I'm so glad you whined about not being in Washington so I had a chance to come visit! :)

Blogger skeet said...
Nellie, take my word for it: you dont' want to know the street definition. It's just plain nasty!

Mahalo for dropping by. I hope you'll come visit again!

Aw, mahalo for the kind words, Terri. Maybe I should whine more frequently to get the vistors rolling in? You're such a sweetie for checking me out, especially since I referred to Washingtonians elitist attitude. Look at you out slumming! ;0)

Blogger Dirk_Star said...
Really? Skeet is a street term?

I never heard of that...

See, I learn something new every day.

Blogger skeet said...
Dirk, I wouldn't have known if it hadn't kept showing up in my stats. Lots of folks google it for resons that have nothing to do with an interest in the original skeet and her stuff, LOL.

Blogger Daniel Thompson said...
I grew up in Northern Wisconsin. I didn't know anyone named skeet, but we all knew what skeeters were.
It was one of the more charitable terms for the insect.
Thank you for submitting your profile to The Profile Directory of Bloggers. I believe that I will be able to include you in the second list of firsts.

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