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2011-08-04 digital edition

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2011-08-04 / General Stories

It’s All In The Words Home Country

Slim Randles

You would think that having a mother who is a writer, my children would be fairly competent when it comes to the English language. Spelling, grammar and vocabulary should be strengths for them because I correct them constantly.

“Son, ‘He ain’t got no brains or nothing’ is not the correct way to say that your brother is an idiot.”

This tests not only my own English savvy, but also my parenting skills. Should I correct the insult to his brother or the insult to the English language? Though triple negatives make me cringe into my turtleneck, personal insults are just plain unacceptable. However, trying to dissect the statement to determine whether it was indeed an insult hurts my brain. The intent was obvious, but until I decide whether it was truly an insult, I can only correct the sentence.

My daughter has an interesting grasp of vocabulary. I’m almost certain it’s not English vocabulary, though. We were driving in my car. She suddenly sat up with a big smile and asked if we could go for ice cream. I told her that I’m on a diet. She deflated like a balloon. I told her we could go to a place that had sugar- free ice cream. She reinflated. then she laughed.

“I’m bilateral, aren’t I?” she asked.

“I’m afraid I don’t see the connection,” I said, puzzled. “You know, I switch moods very fast.”

“Do you mean bipolar?” I asked. “ Oh yeah,” she said. “Bilateral means you can speak two languages, right?” “Nope.” I smiled. “That’s bilingual.” “Oh, phooey!” she sighed.

“If it’s any consolation,” I said, “you probably are bilingual. I just don’t know what the other language is.”

My fourteen-year old has an obsession with the words always, never, all and none. He rarely means these words, but exaggeration sounds better to him. “ All the kids in middle school took drugs,” he said. He was trying to impress upon me the dangers of public school. I knew his intention, but I couldn’t let it go without correcting him. “You mean to say that some or a few kids in middle school took drugs, right?”

“No, all of them did,” he said.

“Were you in middle school?” “Yeeeessss,” he said, rolling his eyes.

“And did you take drugs?”

“No! Do I look stupid?”

“Then ALL the kids did not take drugs, right? Maybe you knew a lot that did?”

“That’s what I said!”

“No, that’s what you meant.”

And the endless loop of teenage conversation goes on.

My youngest boy is a selectively good speller. I noticed a sign on his bedroom door the other day. It was attached to the door with 700 bits of masking tape.

The sign read: DO NOT ENTER MY ROOM WITHOUT MY PERMISHON. Then he drew skull and crossbones and wrote underneath: INSTANTANEOUS DEATH!

I was very impressed with his correct spelling of “instantaneous” even though he mangled “permission.” I would have chastised him for threatening the members of our household with their certain and immediate demise, but reading further, I realized that perhaps his definition of “ instantaneous death” wasn’t the same as mine.

On a small scrap of paper taped under the first, he wrote a disclaimer. As I read, I realized that, for my son, “Instantaneous Death” apparently means “$10 or you have to do my chores for a week.” No wonder he acts like he’s dying when I ask him to clean his room.

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

Things were going kinda slow down at the Fly Tying Love Center and it bothered Marvin Pincus a lot.

He found it hard to believe that, out of all the people in the valley, none of them needed love advice and the proper type of fishing fly to illustrate it. He had the sign made and put in the yard, and he’d obviously had great results with the Jones kid and good ol’ Dewey. Since Marvin’s advice to Dewey to shower before asking a girl for a date, Dewey Decker, the Fertilizer King, had had several dates with nice young women.

Now the fishing-fly earrings part of the business was going great. Women all over town were wearing dingle-dangle earrings with Marvin’s point-clipped fishing flies hanging therefrom. He learned that short ladies tended to go for the smaller dries, like Griffith’s Gnats and Royal Coachmen, and the taller ladies leaned toward salmon streamers. Some of the ladies slipped Marvin’s wife, Marjorie, a couple of bucks to help buy more feathers and hooks.

But on the love advice front, there was a dearth of heartbroken customers.

“What would you think,” Marvin said, “if I ran an ad in the Valley Weekly Miracle?”

“For what?” Marjorie said at breakfast.

“You know … love advice.”

“Well, you have the sign out front. I think everyone in the valley already knows about it.”

“But they’re not coming in.”

Marjorie smiled. “Honey, some people find it hard to talk to others about their personal problems. That’s probably it.”

Marvin got a piece of paper and began writing. Then he’d scratch it out and start again. This went on through both bacon and toast.

“How’s it coming, Honey?”

“About got it right, I think, Marge.”

“May I see it?”

He handed it to her.

The best love advice in the valley, tied up with the appropriate fishing fly. Call the Fly Tying Love Center for an appointment. Results guaranteed.

“What do you think?”

Marjorie just smiled and nodded her head. What she thought, however, was that retirement isn’t for sissies.

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