Tuesday, September 22, 2020

How To Know If You’ve Got The Vankies

What are the vankies?  Well, let me tell you a story so that we can both figure it out together.  

When I was first graduated from University (U.S.C….go Trojans!), I started looking for work in the field of psychology.  The first job I got was at a group home in Woodland Hills.  It was associated with a school for children who had various forms of both behavioral problems and bio-psychiatric needs.  I’ve written about some of these places I worked in a blog called, Psychiatric Smoking Wards.

The way that the shifts in this particular home worked was that there were two counselors on duty most hours.  I say most hours because there was a lone worker for a few hours while the kids were in school, rather than at the residential care facility.  

One counselor would show up at 7:00am on, let’s just call it, day one.  He or she would stay on duty for twenty-seven hours, meaning that that first counselor would finally get off shift on day two at 10:00am.  

The second shift would come on on day two at 7:00am and help the first counselor cook breakfast and get the kids ready for the van that would take them to school.  For this second counselor, this would be the beginning of their twenty-seven hour shift.  Once counselor one was finished and gone at 10:00am on day two, counselor two would have some time to themselves to write up a few assessments of the children’s morning routine and then prep for after school activities.   There was also often time in there for counselor two too nap a little in the middle of the day.  Don’t tell anyone.

A second shift would start at about 3:00pm and go to about 10:00pm.  Let’s call this guy counselor three.  While counselor two, up from her nap, would go get the kids from school (there was only a van that would take them to school in the morning, but each house had a van that the overnight person would have to go get the kids in after school).  It was a schlep on Highway 101 from Woodland Hills to North Hollywood and back during the first part of rush hour. It would take a while.  

Anyways, just to finish off the day, counselor two, now the overnight counselor on day two, would get home with the kids and counselor three would start to get things set up for dinner and to help move the kids into their rooms to get their homework done.  This home’s kids were all in their mid teens, mostly around fourteen or fifteen.  So they listened pretty well, unlike younger kids that I also worked with at other homes.  

My main counselor partner at this home was named Craig.  He was an MSW (Masters of Social Work).  Since I was just out of university with a BA, and he was in his thirties, he was senior to me in pretty much every way; working history, life experience, and past relationships.  We got along very well.  In fact, of all of my working situations, he was one of the best partners I had because of his maturity and his sense of humor.  

So one day, I think I had done the overnight and had supposed to have left at 10:00am, but was asked to do the afternoon shift (the 3:00pm to 10:00pm).  So Craig and I were both at the house in the afternoon.  

We were sitting at the table talking when he suddenly said, “Do you have the vankies?”
I said, “Yeah, I guess so,” not understanding what he was saying.
I think he realized I had just answered affirmatively to something I hadn’t quite gotten.
Again, he said, “Do you have the vankies?”
Now, I really thought he was asking me if I had some sort of condition, like the willies or the heebie-jeebies. But I couldn’t quite understand why he would imply that I seemed unsettled given whatever we were talking about, probably various movies we had seen over the weekend.
I said, “Well, what do you mean, vankies?  I don’t really feel like that.”  

Now he understood what was going on.  This was one of those quirks about any spoken language that happens from time to time.  If words are mushed together, they can sound non-sensible; especially when there is no context given.  

Craig rephrased;  “Do you have the keys for the van?  I need to go get the kids from school?”
“Oh God!  Yes, they’re in my pocket. I couldn’t figure out what the hell you were referring to.”  

And we both had a great laugh about that.  Do you have the van keys?  Not a psychological condition.  Just as simple question of utility.  

Fred Armisen is a genius.  During one of his guest appearances on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, he made fun of this phenomenon in an improvised moment.  Jimmy and Fred do an improvised song analysis where they each make up a song a cappella simply with a microphone in their hand, and the other one analyzes the meaning of the song.  It’s a funny bit.  

Fred starts with a song, “There were twenty three cousins, and all of them had a crew cut.  And the daisies, they fall like rain, like grain.”  Then, Jimmy Fallon bursts out laughing.  Fred in that moment makes a mockery of that phonetic problem that occurs.  “Like rain,” and “like grain,” sound exactly alike without any context.  

If you want to look for this appearance, just Google “Instant Song Analysis with Fred Armisen Jimmy Fallon.”  On the clip I found, it happens at about 2:18 into the video clip.  If the link is dead, which eventually happens, then just copy and paste the search phrase in quotes above.

Okay, I’d keep writing, but I’m starting to get a major wave of the vankies and feel that I should get out of here before I start sweating and develop vertigo.


Image:  https://blog.ncqa.org/ncqa-seeks-publics-help-on-new-and-revised-hedis-measures/male-medicine-doctor-hand-holding-stethoscope-head/