Ever Jump Out at Someone and Say ‘Baf’?

The author sent me this new & improved graphic! Oh yes he did.

The author sent me this new & improved graphic! Oh yes he did.

It’s Tingo Tuesday!

The first Tuesday of each month, I share a word from The Meaning of Tingo & Other Extraordinary Words From Around the World by Adam Jacot de Boinod.

The best comment wins a month of love in my sidebar!

Cool, right? So if you’re a blogger, folks can click over and check you out for 30 days! Free!

But don’t worry if you’re not a blogger. You can  still win, so don’t be shy about leaving your best comment!

Today, I’m sharing the Czech word, VYBAFNOUT, which means to jump out and say ‘baf.’

As a kid, I hated my parents’ basement. Unlike the rest of our house, the basement was dark, cold, cluttered and wicked creepy. For a time, an African mask hung over the fireplace; its white eyeballs followed me as I passed to bring my basket of dirty clothes to the laundry room where the washer and dryer lived.

NOTE: I was willing to endure this psychological trauma to ensure my most awesome pair of perfectly faded, very torn, and strategically patched Levi’s were available whenever I wanted them.

I did a good job of freaking myself out in that laundry room.

Mostly because I was certain that while I put my jeans into the wash, that spooky mask had come to life and someone was waiting to get me — in the other part of the basement. To avoid the scary, masked-perv (who was apparently afraid of dirty laundry), I hauled ass when it came time to go back upstairs.

Sprinting across the shadows, I hauled a$$ up the 11 stairs to the landing adjacent to the pantry.

Believe it or not, the scary masked-man perv had an irrational fear of Hostess Ho-Ho’s, so that was the place I knew it was safe to breathe.

One day, the pantry door opened. Two hands reached out toward my neck.

Holy poop on a stick! 

I think I pounded the baf out of my brother that day.

Or he pounded me.

I’m pretty sure we both ended up banished to our rooms for a while.

{Okay, so he didn’t jump out and say baf, but still! He jumped out at me, people. I’m thinking the Czech ‘baf!’ = the American ‘Boo!’}

The main point here is that this is why I hate basements.

I love how other cultures have compact language for the actions and concepts for which we haven’t necessarily got the right word.

Now it’s your turn!

Leave me a comment about a time when you jumped out and scared the ‘baf’ out of someone  — or someone jumped out and scared the kakka out of you and receive a very scary, authentic African mask for free.

Just kidding.

This month’s winner is Christie Tate of Outlaw Mama. Last month we were talking about the Hawaiian word pana po’o, which refers to how some people scratch their heads when they are trying to remember something. Outlaw Mama wrote:

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 11.23.21 AM

Look at Outlaw Mama in my sidebar. Isn’t she cute? Click on her nose to read her amazing stuff. And I mean amazing. You will clutch your face and scream, as if someone jumped out at you and said baf!

tweet me @rasjacobson

You have until June 22, to enter! A new winner will be revealed on the first Tuesday in September. Why am I making you wait until September? I’m using the summer to develop more content. Or work on my tan.

57 responses to “Ever Jump Out at Someone and Say ‘Baf’?

  1. I’m not much of a “baf” type of person…but I have worked in a haunted house a few times. I never yelled or screamed, I just stood there, behind a curtain, and waited for them to find me. Most of the time they would jump a little bit and be on their way, but once we had a very dramatic reaction. An older lady was especially lost this one evening and when it came time to try my hallway…she was nearly spent. She moved aside the curtain and saw me standing there. She proceeded to slap my face with both hands…kind of like Daniel Larusso painting the fence in The Karate Kid, while repeating “No, No, No, No, No…”

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  2. baf – when another certified letter arrives from the ex’s attorney. Sheesh, the friggin divorce was in 1984.

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  3. Many years ago I was at a rather fancy shopping mall with my girlfriend and her sister, who was about a year younger than us. (We were all of us old enough to vote, but none of us old enough to drink, which may give you some idea of the level of our maturity.) The mall in question had a huge elongated fountain that ran down the center of the mall. Younger sister was walking along the edge of it, which stood about three feet off the ground.

    I did it very casually. I leaned toward her and pretty much whispered “boo.” This was EXTREMELY subtle. This was by no means a “Vybafnout” in any sense of the word. Regardless, she immediately let out a blood curdling shriek and tumbled, arms flailing, directly into the fountain, splashing everyone within a ten foot radius. All activity in the bustling shopping mall came to an immediate halt. It was just like in the cartoons, where the music stops playing, everyone stops talking, and all heads turn. Security guards approached us. Younger sister was given a towel and we were instructed to leave the premises. The long car ride home was awkward. I have never attempted to Vybafnout anyone since.

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    • Domingosaurus: So was the fall into the fountain all just a shenanigan? Or did you really scare her? Either way, it doesn’t matter. I’m guessing Younger Sister looked just like Belinda Carlisle from the GoGo’s singing “Our Lips Are Sealed” in that fountain. That’s the visual in my head. Don’t try to change it. Great story!

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  4. Growing up our split-level home, inside the double-shutter closet doors in the master bathroom, had a laundry shoot that went downstairs to the laundry room. Once I learned how to shimmy up the shoot, I realized I had a new found SUPER power if used at the “perfect” time! One summer vacation several of my cousins (including females) were in town and the girls were gathered in the master bathroom. Yep, you guessed it. One was on the toilet & the other two in front of the mirrors, backs to the closet doors, all clucking clacking away like little hens. When suddenly, crashing from the closet doors….

    Hens screaming, flying, and running in all directions — one launched herself off the toilet with shorts still around the knees! Parents in shock first, then hunting down (laughingly) the naughty fox. Dad (the “policeman”) sternly gets son & takes him away privately to discipline. “Good one son,” he explains, “…but act like your hurting” — under his Vulcan death-clamp — “and say loudly YES SIR, three times.” All the girls were listening outside the door.

    I (proudly) walked out of there with fake tears to the musical soundtrack & whistling from “Bridge Over the River Kwai” past the glares of my female cousins. 🙂

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  5. I too would have pounded my brother if he scared me like that.

    My kids & husband have scared the daylights out of me so many times I have lost count. Whenever I get up in the middle of the night to visit the washroom, it seems someone is always just outside the door when I have finished. Since I am usually half asleep, I am then jolted awake by their presence. I scream, which again is normal. They all laugh at me, because I am so easily frightened.

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  6. I stand outside doors and when people open them I baf them. It is just somehting I do. I think it is an illness. My family has tried intervention. They have tried to take away my hostess cupcakes with that evil white stuff in the middle. they have tried to take away my wine., they have tried to give me money. Nothing works. I still stand outside their closed doors and wait for them to come out to baf them. They still love me though.

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  7. My grandpa used to work at an auto parts manufacturer, and they let him take home excess supplies – cardboard, foam rubber – which the grandkids would play with when we visited. My cousin and I were about 10 or 11, and one day, we decided it would be cool to scare grandma. She was pretty jumpy to begin with, so it didn’t take much to set her off. John and I made sandals out of foam rubber, with cardboard straps glued on. To top it off, we also traced the outline of our hands on cardboard, cut them out, and curved the fingers to make claws. We taped the claws to our hands, strapped the sandals on, and vewy, vewy quietwy made our way across grandma’s carpeted dining room, peering into the kitchen, where she was washing dishes, oblivious. We crept up behind her, scratched her on the back of her neck with our claws and yelled BAF! (or something like that). The poor thing shrieked and jumped a foot. Her wash rag flew, dish suds hit the window, but thankfully she was a great sport and laughed it off. Probably was pretty happy to see us leave that day…

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    • Ya know, my grandmother was jumpy, too. I wonder if my father and his sister baffed her a lot while they were growing up.

      Meanwhile, I can TOTALLY picture you and your brother completed engrossed in that project. It must have taken HOURS to make those costumes! It must have been dead silent in there! No wonder she screamed BAF! (or something like that).😉

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      • I’m sure with seven kids, my grandma got baffed quite often. It did take a long time to make our getup – we tried not to make any noise, Funny thing is, we never would have tried this stunt on my grandpa. What is it about some grandmas that invites this behavior??

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    • If that had been my grandmother, the washcloth would have slapped across the side of my face.

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  8. I’m taking this a slightly different direction. The next time I say boo, or “baf!” in this case, will be at the Sedlec Ossuary in Prague. Being surrounded by thousands of skeletons seems like the right place for that.

    I think that might even be where the word originated. A priest was scared by another priest who was hiding behind the bone chandelier and that is what he said. Baf.

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  9. It wasn’t me who got the BAF scared out of them, but my brother. We were sitting at the kitchen table, and I was stuck there until he finished eating. I had learned the hard way if I said I was full first, my brother would say it too, and that would mean my parents blamed ME for him not eating.Well, we were sitting there, I was pretending to eat and my little brother was…well, falling asleep. My mom was at the sink washing dishes. I didn’t say anything, as I didn’t want to wake him from his slumber, slouched over at the kitchen table, inches from his food. (I wish I remember what we were eating!) But suddenly, my mom looked over and screamed his name. BAF! He lifted about 3 inches off his chair, started crying and I almost peed my pants laughing.
    Oh, and he still had to sit there and finish his dinner.
    And I still had to wait.

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  10. Oh how I love lanuage, and BAF and TINGO Tuesdays. Oh so much!!!

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  11. I’m trying to figure out how to conjugate VYBAFNOUT.

    Do I VYBAFNOUT when my teenager tried to sneak in past curfew? Did my mom VYBAFNOU when I did the same 20 years ago?

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  12. When I was a kid my Uncle lived overseas and used to come home a couple of times a year to see us, spoil us with presents and tell us scary stories. This time he decided to teach us all about the boogie monster so we were all nice and terrified for our trip to Waitomo caves ( Big limestone caves with glow worms) a few days later.
    He waited just long enough that we had stopped being scared and started running up ahead to see the next thing to sneak up ahead and hide behind the rocks.
    He pulled it off and we screamed and screamed, until we were brave enough to open our eyes and find out who it was. Then it was funny… kinda sorta.

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  13. Renee, if you lived in Texas, you wouldn’t have had to worry about a basement. Very few people here have them. Hmmmm. Maybe that’s why I can’t think of any vybafnout stories.

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  14. VYBAFNOUT! Sure, I knew what that meant. Baf! Of course Renee. And yes, look at what we had to do to our Levi’s in order for them to be pronounced wearable. Now, we buy our jeans with the holes already worn and torn. And spend a gazillion dollars to buy them. Boy, are we stupid or what? But a stitch in time, saves nine, or something like that. lol. Okay, a “Baf” moment. I was raised on the California coastline, so we don’t have basements here. Although I laughed as you recounted your story as that would be something I would do. lol. Anywho. There are two major moments that I can recall. One, being thrown out of my bed when an 7.1 earthquake said BAF!!! And another time, when my brother jumped out with a knife and scared the living daylights out of me, forcing me to hang over the railing of the second story landing. I almost broke my neck. He was a lunatic! Yes, it was a BAF moment and I am now scared for life thank you. Aw, the memories!🙂

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    • Omigosh, Karen! Yes, living through an earthquake? Um, yes THAT would be a reason to scream BAF(and other choice words)! Holy scary! Every time I’m hating on our chilly Rochester winters, I have to remind myself that we have neither earthquakes nor tornados in these parts. Meanwhile, your brother jumping out at your with an actual knife? Whaaaaaaat? Do you still talk to this brother? You know, after the dangling? YIKES!

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  15. I traveled to Czechoslovakia some years ago, and had booked a few nights, sight unseen, at a B&B in a little village. It turned out to be a dilapidated, old house on a hill, remote from the town. It was run by a hulking, vacant-eyed young man and his mother, a tiny, wizened, hunchbacked old crone. She said, “I is Babička Olga. Ve is glad haf you,” but her toothless smile looked more menacing than glad.

    She took me to my room, then showed me around. The bathroom was down the hall and she made a big production of flinging open the door “Und here ve haf ze baf, you take nice soak, no?” It was dingy and dimly lit and the ring around the tub was a curious shade of greige.

    I shuddered slightly and said weakly, “yes, how nice it will be to take a bath.” There was no way in hell I was putting anything but my flip-flopped feet in that tub.

    When I came down for supper Babička Olga said, eagerly, “You see ze towels? You haf ze baf?”

    By now I realized I was the only guest staying with Babička Olga and her dim-witted son. The surroundings were bad enough, but her insistence on getting me into the bathtub was ramping up my creepazoid-meter to full throttle. Why did she care? What was she going to do to me? Was I being set up for the shower scene in Psycho?

    “Oh, I will later” I mumbled.

    I feared I was taking my life in my hands, but by that evening I felt so grimy I took a chance and visited the bathroom. I wore clogs and propped a chair under the door-handle. The shower was surprisingly refreshing. After toweling off and donning my robe, I headed down the dimly lit hallway. I was almost to my room, when Babička Olga jumped out at me from around the corner.

    “VY BAF NOUT?” she screamed?

    Heart pounding, I stammered. “I…I…I just prefer a shower.”

    She stared up at me for a long moment with milky, crazed eyes peeking through a tangle of white hair. Then she shrugged and said, “Oh…Hokay. Continental breakfast eez at 8”, and shuffled off down the hall.

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  16. My mother has been scared of vampires since her older siblings took her to see a Bela Lugosi vampire movie when she was five. Until she went to college she slept with a stuffed wiener dog wrapped around her neck.
    Cut to October 1976, Halloween, less than a month away from my glorious entry into this world. My mom is walking up the very steep driveway towards the door of our house. Her cousin is hiding in the bushes dressed as a vampire (Yes, they were both adults.). He steps out in front of the door and its spotlight and does the vampire cape thing.
    My mother dropped to her knees and screamed. Loudly. Her cousin was seriously scared he had scared her into labor.
    To get him back, I timed my arrival during the Thanksgiving dinner he had prepared. (Note: I did not arrive at Thanksgiving dinner. The family was sitting down to dinner when the phone call informing them of my arrival came. The entire big Greek family beat it to the hospital.)

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  17. I have a HILARIOUSLY (probably to me only) inappropriate comment about you not enjoying it in the basement, but that’s not what you were after. I’ll have to ponder this baf and return at a later time.

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  18. I jump at lint on the floor (bc i think it’s a spider). So yeah, I’m an easy baf mark.🙂

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  19. So, a few friends and I were drinking in a bar in the middle of a Friday afternoon (as one does sometimes when one calls in sick to work), when the woman my buddy had just started dating, let’s call her Beth, started to hiccup – somewhat cutely, but that’s not the point.

    The point is that when someone gets the hiccups, I consider it my sacred and solemn duty to scare it out of them. It’s the considerate thing to do because hiccuping is embarrassing for them – it makes them sound like a drunk in a cartoon. Also, the scaring amuses me.

    Beth was sitting across from me at a four-person table, so I nodded my head and ever-so-slightly motioned for her to come closer, as if I were going to tell her a secret. Once our faces were about six inches apart, I threw up my hands, made a horrible face, and yelled “Blaaaugh!” (or “Baf!”).

    She recoiled, and in doing so, struck an empty Heineken bottle with her hand and launched it across the bar. By some miracle it bounced off the seat of a barstool, skittered across the floor, and didn’t break.

    “Why the hell would you do that?” she said.

    “Are your hiccups gone?” I said.

    We waited a moment.

    “Well, yes,” she said.

    I was greatly pleased, even if she didn’t thank me.

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  20. My story is about the “Baf!” that, thankfully, never was.

    When I was a kid I had a great aunt Gina of whom I was fond. Once, at a family gathering, she took the time to explain to me the proper way to put silverware on the table do that I could set the table by myself. You’d think a 7 year old boy wouldn’t find that interesting, but I guess I enjoyed the attention

    After my table setting lesson, I thought it would be fun to return the “attention” favor to my aunt as only a 7 year old boy could. I crouched next to the couch in the living room and waited so that I could jump out and give Aunt Gina the best Appalachian version of “BAF!” that I could.

    The tiny detail I did not take into account was that Aunt Gina, in addition to being much loved, was also very frail and had a heart condition. Mercifully, my grandmother happened by and deduced my plan, at which point she explained that my “BAF!” could well kill my aunt.

    Thanks to my grandmother, Aunt Gina lived another 25 years or so…heart condition and all, and I never forgot my near miss at becoming the only killer in the family.

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  21. Ok, here is my story. Even all these years later it is still embarrassing. I was about 11 or 12 years old when my parents put our house up for sale. I was home alone when the real estate agent called and said she was 5 minutes away with some interested clients and could she drop by. My 11 year old self panicked. I didn’t know whether to get out of the house or to stay put. Then I heard the sound of keys at the front door and the knob began to turn. With no more time to sort out my predicament I ran to the nearest bedroom. After scanning the space for potential hiding spaces I jumped into the closet. I could hear the voices touring the house. I began to sweat. “Please don’t open this closet door, please don’t open this closet door” was my ongoing prayer of the moment. Well, they opened the door. At first, all was creepy quiet. I think because all they could see were my feet maybe they thought I was a mannequin. Then a hand pushed aside the hanging clothes… out came the scream of shear horror “BAF” they yelled as they fled from the room. And that is how I scared some people, albeit unintentionally!

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