My younger brothers were not happy with me. "Good going, Kirst," one said sarcastically. "Why did you teach Mom that expression?" "Yeah, why?" the other chimed in. "It's old, and they say that on all the talk shows!"
I understand their embarrassment, but they just don't get it. At the time, it seemed appropriate. Mom needed some encouragement, and she's always liked catchy expressions. So, one day during a visit to Florida, I blurted out:
"You go, girl!"
The smile on her face told me it had struck a chord, and the next thing I knew, she was saying it back to me.
"Off to play tennis? You go, girl!"
OK, so the expression is overwrought, a little out of date, and, in my brothers' eyes, perhaps too urban-feminist for a woman who grew up in the 1950s, let alone their mother. But what can I say? What would Oprah say?
Now the phrase comes up in our conversations, and we use it with sincere intentions. It's a condensed version of: "I support you and what you're doing. You know what's right. I'm on your side. Be strong. You can do all that you need to do to keep it together. Stand up for what you believe in. Speak your mind. Move ahead," and so on.
We recite it different ways (emphasizing "you," for example, instead of "go") and in different character voices. It makes a good ending to a phone conversation.
Dad doesn't seem to mind - or if he does, he doesn't let on. He knows it's a "girl thing," a mother-daughter thing.
As for my brothers, they'll just have to get used to it. It's not as if Mom is going to start saying "You go, boy."
But I will refrain from telling them what happened today.
The phone rang in my office cubicle. I picked up the receiver and, in my usual way, announced, "Kirsten Conover."
On the other end of the line, there was a slight pause, followed by a familiar voice announcing: "Yo' mama."
I take no responsibility.