Yesterday I bought a spare phone charger. At the register, I held out my debit card uncertainly at the card-swiping gizmo. The man behind the register saw my confusion and said, “Strip down. Facing me.”
I paused, then repeated his words back to him. The woman at the next register burst out laughing.
I mean, if I were entering the Army, okay. But to purchase a phone charger? That seemed austere. Strip down, facing me.
Words. Honestly, they’re pretty malleable.
I have a friend who grew up hearing “Silent Night” and thinking that “Round John Virgin” was a character in the story.
When I was little, I had a friend who used to wet her bed every night. My mom told me she had “a bladder problem.” I had no idea what a “bladder” was. I thought she said my friend had “a splatter problem.” And that made perfect sense to me.
When my son Nick was little, he had a problem pronouncing the words “airplane” and “airport.” He said, “ahhplane” and “ahhport.” This went on for a few years.
Then one day, we drove to the Charlottesville Ahhport to pick up my dad, who was coming for a visit. We collected the maestro, and as we began driving home, Nick said something about how exciting it was to “come get Grandpa at the ahhport.” Then he turned to my dad and explained in perfect English, “I can’t say airport.”
“No?” said my dad. “What do you say?”
“I say, ahhport,” Nick replied.