The True Story of Hunk•Ta•Bunk•Ta

When I was a young child, my parents, brother, sister, three sets of aunties and uncles, 13 cousins and 6 dogs, (plus one scrawny stray cat named “Tidbit”), gathered every single Sunday for lunch at my grandmother’s house.

While the biscuits baked, the potatoes boiled and the chicken fried, the grown-ups chatted inside the children played outside. Rain or wind, sun or snow, we were a wild and giggly bunch, who made such a ruckus that no one could get our attention, except for our Gran. And this is how: she opened up the kitchen door, cupped her hands around her lips, and hollered:

“KICK-ta-bill-icky/ALL-uh-guh-LOCK-sta/HUNK-TA-BUNK-TA Boo. Yooooo-Hooooo!”

That was her way of letting us know food was on the table. Turns out Gran learned the phrase from her great grandmother. So today it’s at least 250 years old, though nobody knows (or can remember) where it came from, who said it first, or what it really means. It could be Celtic, Welsh or Scottish, because that’s where Gran’s great-grandmother lived. Maybe someone way back then, made it up. It might even be an African dialect, Chinese, Farsi or Eskimo. If you know, please do tell!

Once I heard it I never forgot it, and the same thing might happen to you. Hmmm, if you learn it and then pass it on to your children’s children, and so on and son on…who knows how many birthdays it might get to celebrate! The End (NOT!).