The Awkward Guide

In every situation in life, there's always a way to make a tit of yourself

Ylang Ylang – isn’t that a lyric from Grease?

Ylang ylang changitty chang shoobop? No?

Well ok, no it isn’t, I checked. But I’m sure if you sang it at a kareoke night or a Grease tribute concert no-one would notice. Especially if you mumbled it a bit.

Why am I rabbitting on about 1970s musicals and strange essential oils when I really should be doing essays you may ask. Well I’ll tell you, otherwise this would be a very short and rather pointless post. One of my flatmates has a bottle of Ylang Ylang shampoo in the bathroom and everytime I see it I get that song stuck in my head for no other reason than it sounds like it really should be a lyric. I’m not sure which flatmate becuase I’m not actually sure what Ylang Ylang smells like. Is anyone? And even if I did know, I think they may be a little concerned if I started trying to covertly sniff their hair.

So anyway, based on this I decided to write about things that sound like they really should mean something else. I’m not going to lie, it pretty much ended up as a list of things that sound dirty but aren’t.

Let’s kick things off with one of the best words the English language has ever produced – ‘furbelow‘ – snigger away all you like, a furbelow is actually a ruffle or frill used to decorate clothing. So don’t get too excited if a girl offers to show you her splendid furbelow, you’re likely to be sorely disappointed. Or pleasantly surprised if you have a peculiar affinity for fine tailoring.

What are you afraid of if you suffer from ‘peniaphobia‘ ? Any guesses? Unless you’re secretly Stephen Fry or someone who works at the OED you probably got that wrong, it’s actually the fear of poverty. Yeah. Not so funny now is it.

One of my personal pet peeves now, ‘Rosamund Pike‘ should definitely be either a place in the Lake District or a particularly vicious fish, not a person. And certainly not a Bond girl! But at least she adds a touch of class to this otherwise juvenile funny-making.

Should I be worried and mildly psychologically traumatised to know that my parents can legitimately call themselves ‘sexagenarians‘ ? Fortunately not, it just means they’re in their sixties… phew!

Next I went all Sherlock Holmes on this thing and did a bit of investigating. Though I don’t think you’d ever catch sight of the deerstalker and pipe looking into the mysterious case of hilarious food names from around the world. In Poland, you can get ‘Fart‘ juice and ‘Fart‘ chocolate bars. And ‘Dry Sack‘ liquor from Spain doesn’t sound too apetising either. If it’s condiments you’re after, how about some ‘cemen‘ sauce from Turkey, or ‘Dickmilch‘ yoghurt from Germany? Or if you have a particularly sweet tooth why not try ‘creamy ball‘ candy from Japan, or France’s ‘Grany maniac‘ chocolate? No? I’m not making this stuff up I promise. Would I lie to you?

If I want to embark on a glittering burlesque career, will I need to invest in a fine pair of ‘tittles‘ ? Probably not, they are, rather boringly, small diacritic marks such as accents or the dots over ‘i’s. So unless my act involves drafting a letter written in French on-stage (and who wouldn’t pay to see that?) I’m sure I would get by just fine without any magnificent tittles.

On a similar note, do social services need to be called if you decide to ‘titivate‘ your children? I’m sure social services would give you a nice pat on the back if you did, because titivate means to smarten up or to make decorative additions to. After all, who doesn’t like to wap out their most festive tinsel and baubles for a big night out?

So there you have it, a nice long list of things that sound like euphemisms. But remember, there is absolutely nothing rude about this post. Well, we English do have a long and distinguished history of trying to talk about sex without actually talking about sex. My, the Victorians would be proud!

And don’t even get me started on cumquats and mastication…


3 comments on “Ylang Ylang – isn’t that a lyric from Grease?

  1. frankenjeep

    Ah, the ylang ylang song! It was “He’s so Fine” *doo-lang, doo-lang, doo-lang-doo-lang* by the Chiffons, in 1963.

    I know EXACTLY which one you speak of, because my wife has been talking about making medicines with ylang ylang (EE-lang EE-lang) and, every time, I get that part of the song stuck in my head!

    I finally had to look it up, to satiate my obsessive desire to know why I insisted on singing that in my head every time she said the words. In doing so, I came across this little gem of a blog.


    • alotlikejen

      Very glad you found the blog, and even gladder that you enjoyed it! 🙂 Although very sorry to hear that you suffer from the same ylang ylang-related affliction!


  2. Cheshire Mouse

    Also note “Ruck farht” is not a large black bird making a rude noise. It is in fact return journey, as my dad had to explain to my brother and I who were helpless with giggles on a family holiday in Austria many years ago.


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