By: Mr. Wonderful
It had to happen sooner or later – the perversion of all that is good, right and true by the insidious forces of “urban dialogue.”
My fellow Michiganders know what Frankenmuth is; but for my many fans logging on across the country, I will explain. Frankenmuth is an authentic German town in northern mid-Michigan that features, not surprisingly, authentic German food, shops and culture. It’s home to Zehnder’s and the Bavarian Inn – both famous for their chicken dinners – as well as Bronner’s, one of the world’s largest Christmas decoration stores. Sure, Frankenmuth is a bit of a tourist trap, but on a more personal note, it’s always had a special place in my heart as it’s been the destination of many Wonderful family dinners ever since I was a child.
This Easter, your humble narrator went to Frankenmuth with his mother and father to enjoy another holiday repast. All was going well – the food was good, the conversation light and friendly – until I needed to use the restroom. That’s when it happened. Downstairs near the men’s room is a shopping and seating area; and in that seating area was a large plywood board with three circles cut into the middle of it. It’s the type of silly boards people use to stick their faces through the holes and have their picture taken. On the board were painted three gnomes, done in a rustic, Olde World style, and above was one of the most offending captions that could be placed on such a contraption.
Above the cute gnomes sized just for children read the words, “Chillin’ with my gnomies.” (For our terminally suburban readers, this is an obvious play on the phrase, “Chillin’ with my homies.”)
Utilizing urban dialect for reasons of commercialism and/or mass appeal such as this is an example of stupidity at its most glaring. It’s yet another example of a society where ignorance is rewarded, which only serves to discourage intelligence and culture in lieu of the much easier-obtained lowest common denominator. Urban slang, after all, is merely mispronounced, misunderstood and bastardized English language; while it might be perfect for the latest hip-hop album, it has no place in an upscale restaurant such as Frankenmuth.
This, humble readers, is the proverbial “beginning of the end” for the once-fair Frankenmuth. “Chillin’ with my gnomies” is just the start. Next thing you know, the Bavarian Inn will change its name to “B-Diddy’s Chicken and Rib Crib,” and its sister restaurant, Zehnder’s, will become “Z-Dawg’s – where da food is all dat!” And gone are the lederhosen and other traditional German garb once worn by the waiters and waitresses. Now, dinner will be served by staff members wearing sagging Phat Farm jeans, FuBu T-shirts and baseball hat tipped sideways. (The more experience members of the waitstaff will also have a few gold chains … err, some “bling bling” … hanging around their necks.) And the glockenspiel atop the restaurant – once famous for its hourly telling of the Pied Piper of Hamlin – will be replaced by nightly showings of Curtis “Fitty Cent” Jackson’s hit movie, “Get Rich or Die Tryin,” and Samuel L. Jackson’s hit movie “Snakes on a Plane.”
The adaptation of urban slang into all facets of American life is neither cute nor harmless – it’s the floodgate that, once opened, becomes the point of no return. All it needs to start this self-destructive process is the smallest thing (such as “Chillin’ with my gnomies). That’s all it takes to set the downward spiral into motion, because once you start appealing to the lowest common denominator, that’s exactly what you’re going to get.
It’s like my Uncle Glenn always used to say, “Garbage in, garbage out.”