I grew up with words being coerced, coaxed, pleaded and applauded out of me. As a baby, adult faces would frown when i didn’t do what they asked, and shine when i got it right. Words let me know which paths were the easiest and the hardest, which food was hot or cold, which items were off limits, and what happened to the bad guys in fairytale stories.
As i grew, i heard more complex phrases which, put together with the correct punctuation, let me know when to come home for dinner, which friends i could hang with, and why my soup was too bland.
In teenhood, words became everything. EVERYTHING (along with the right eye liner) could be accomplished with words. Add an essential eye roll, a few facial expressions, and world peace could be solved.
All through life, words have been my companion in making my world vivid. I couldn’t have have this vivaciousness about words without my elders. I was fortunate enough to have fine arts and liturature imbued into the very air i breathed. But, i do enjoy being lax, thanks to texting, facebook, and looking out the window as i tap away at the keys. Also, i like to write as i think, lately, and that is anything but high-falutin.
Which is why it is particularly silly when i get words, phrases, and even punctuation wrong, by accident.
I was corrected about a few phrases, this afternoon, by a woman whom i could barely understand. She had no accent. She was from the same region as i. Yet i struggled mightily to let her words (and the blueberry muffin i was eating at the time) fight it out in my mouth for room. (I was saved by milk.) “You know, the correct term for ….blah blah…..is….bleetily blow, bliy bloo bloo…” and she sat there haughtily, waiting for me to do something. Bow down and say, “I’m not worthy!” or maybe “You have changed my life! I will now be a blow-torch guy!” (The term is welder.) Her eyebrow was pulled up to an almost Vulcan-ese hight, and the left side of her lips had been scrunched, while at the same time being pulled down slightly. And there she was. My grandma. Ouch. (And Ba Ha!!! She even had the mole!)
I am not clear what she wanted from me, except for me to immediately stop offending her with my hill-billy ways, and move around her. This put me in mind of Dr. Seuss’s story where two furry yet naked beings came across the sand, one from the north, and one from the south. Instead of either of them moving to one side so they could continue their journey, they found ways to share with the other about how important they were. And how IMPERITIVE it was that the other move, simply because of how important they were. The words got more self-important. Words like “Sir” were traded for “Young Man”, and then on to “You couldn’t possibly understand how important it is that you move aside so I can move forward, Simpleton”-ish attitudes.
And a freeway was built around their haughtiness.
It was like that, but the woman had clothes on and was slightly less furry. I believe she simply corrected me as she had been corrected by her elders, and wasn’t even aware that she did it, honestly. And I was schooled. I said “Thank you.” And moved aside so she could get her own muffin.
To anyone that has been corrected, or even looked at, by me, in the oh-you-poor-creature way that she had given me, i apologize. It’s hideous. For the next 2 weeks on Facebook, or texting, you have my permission to correct me. But only if i get to see the eyebrow-raising gesture at the time. Or the lips pursing together with those crinkly lines making you look 30 years older than you are. Send those pics in! Just the flaring nostrils and eyes and lips, mind you. Cause that would make one heck of a montage (homage? mobile?…) to the elders that have started turning over in their graves at my lax use of their lessons lately.