I’ve picked up some interesting expressions and slang from Jon and Cher who lived in Zimbabwe for 22 years where they picked up their Afrikaans, British, and Zimbabwean lingo: funny words like “skebenga” (Afrikaans for a low life thief), “Voetsek” (pronounced “footsack” – a very strong “get lost” sort of thing, used mostly with dogs), or the expression “Coke and Buns” (meaning that the event or restaurant is very low key, not fancy, basic).
But my recent favorite, which I think we should spread around America (no pun intended), is “landed with his bum in the butter.” The meaning, according to Jon and Cher, is basically a good luck thing with a twist. You fall, but land in nice soft butter. (I said, “and then you can eat the butter!” and everyone, in unison, said “Eww!”) It’s where something bad might happen to you but it turns out good. Like your car breaking down in front of a nice resort and they let you stay there for free for a week while they fix your car. They refer to their Congolese Hunting Dog as “landing with her bum in the butter,” because they bought her from a pygmy in the jungle, and if she’d stayed there she would have had a horrible life of hunger, worms, diseases, and beatings. She’s got a loving family, and is fat and happy now. She landed with her bum in the butter.
My life has many “bum in the butter” stories. My British friend, Jane, always says that amazing things happen when she travels with me. (She also says that she has more near-death experiences, but that’s another story.) One “bum in the butter” incident landed us at a private resort on a pristine island off the coast of Mozambique…for free. We were traveling on a dime, staying at the cheapest places possible, and wanted to get to the island to camp on the beach. There were only two resorts on the island, but of course, they were out of the question for us, and no regular boat service. We were directed to a white South African man, the manager of one of the resorts, who had a small boat heading back to the island the next day. We chatted with him for a while and then broached the subject of a lift to the island. He looked us over, thought a bit, and then asked if we would like to come stay with him and his girlfriend at their resort, which was closed while they waited for the government to issue a liquor license. How could we refuse? We stayed in one of the beautiful bungalows, ate meals together and sundowners on the beach, all served by the staff of ten, and became friends. They didn’t ask for anything from us, and told us later that they rarely met travelers they liked enough to invite over. We stayed for three days before going back to our life of $5/night shabby rooms. We had landed with our bums in the butter for a few days.