I was giving blood on Saturday morning, and the phlebotomist and I were conversing about the various forms of Red Cross donation options available. I have only donated whole blood. But the Red Cross wants my plasma more than my whole blood, so they keep suggesting that I donate plasma. While blood donation is a worthwhile and fascinating topic, I will cut it short to tell you that the phlebotomist at one point asked me the relevant question “Do you live on this side?”
It made sense that she might ask if I live “around here.” My mind raced. What was the elided antecedent? This side of what? Had we talked about the highway? Had we mentioned the river? The train tracks? Distracted for a moment, and still unsuccessful, I knew I could avoid the question if I turned it around and gave her the location of my house. So I did that.
Ultimately failing at identifying any antecedent, I guessed it might be an unfamiliar slang expression. Google. I found something by Mobb Deep (sometimes joined by 50 Cent), in the song “Creep”. Havoc busts:
“…Its crazy on this side, come thru, gun thru
Oh ya man live out here, don't go and get comfortable
Don't know what he told you ain't sweet around here … .”
Mr. Havoc is referring to his neighborhood, so perhaps “on this side” is a shortening of “on this side of town.” Anyway “around here” does seem to work as a paraphrase.
I was born and raised in a city, but I guess I've been suburban for too long now to be on top of the urban slang. That and I need to catch more of Mr. Havoc, Mr. Prodigy and Mr. Cent.
While I don't know where the phlebotomist lives, I am willing to assert she is a twenty-something African-American woman.
Like many suburbs ours is a short drive to an urban center, complete with areas of high unemployment, high crime, drugs, gangs, and occasional shootings. Her follow-up to my response was that the another Red Cross center, where she also works, has better equipment for plasma donation. The other center is diametrically opposite the urban area I was describing above. None of this is conclusive, but I think that urban influence is not far-fetched.
I have checked with a few of my colleagues, and the use is not familiar. So I could be totally off the mark here. I'll keep checking.
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