Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I M nuts

"Signs to help recognize that you're not like others"

            ROOFTOP –  Jill called me on Friday night. I hadn’t talked to my kid sister in over a week. It was about at the 40 minute mark of the conversation when she asked me if I thought she was nuts. Seems one of our more remote family members told her that the rest of the family thinks she’s nuts. So she said, “Moke, do you think I’m nuts?”

            Immediately, I started pondering a bigger question. Is it wise to lie to a person who thinks she might be nuts? It didn’t help that Jill had just told me about having to get rid of one of her Facebook friends so she would have an even number of friends. She doesn’t like to have an odd number of things. Does that make her nuts? – No, I’m asking, “Does that make her nuts?”

            Then it hit me. Whop! This is Jill! Over the years, we’ve shared all secrets. Most secrets. That’s when I said,  “Of course you’re nuts, Jill! Do you feel normal? No way!"

            I went on to tell her that I’m nuts. There were signs during First Grade. I’m the only kid in Pasadena who thought First Grade just lasted one day. I had no idea that I was supposed to return for Day Two and Day Three and on to oblivion. (I’ve shared the story with you.) And, there was no one who ever went to school more surprised about “test day” than I did. – “What? A test? How were we supposed to know? Oh, she told us before she wrote it on the board? Was I born yet?”
The worst school year of my life. Can you find me?
            But forget about my younger days. Right now, I’m sitting on a large pillow atop my roof, pretending that you’re up here with me. If ever there were a sign of nutness that’s it. In fact, when I said I was “pretending” you were up here, I lied. Some of you are sitting to the left of me, some to the right of me… Reminds me.  I memorized “The Charge of the Light Brigade” in high school. -- “Cannon to the right of me. Cannon to the left of me. Cannon in front of me volleyed and thundered. Storm'd at with shot and shell, boldly they rode and well, into the jaws of death, into the mouth of hell rode the 600.” I saw the movie before I knew there was a poem. Tennyson wrote the poem. Alfred Lord. Errol Flynn starred in the movie. 

            So... where was I? Oh yeah, I’m nuts. The point I was trying to make with Jill was that being abnormal isn’t bad. After all, what is the measure one uses to determine normality? Or “normalcy” as Warren G. Harding, our 29th President called it. Harding was one of those persons whose middle name or initial was crucial in name recognition. Like Ulysses Grant. You take the initial of his middle name out and I don’t know who you’re talking about. Nobody ever says “Edgar Poe.” I don’t know an Edgar Poe. It’s Edgar Allan Poe. Isn’t that weird? It’s like Alfred Lord Tennyson. All along, I thought his middle name was Lloyd.-- Forget that. It's nothing like that.

            By the time I finished my discussion on being crazy, Jill was convinced that she was the sane one. I’m pretty sure she was tempted to tell me that everybody in the family thinks I’m nuts, but fears hurting my feelings. Ridiculous. I’ve come to embrace my condition.

            I’ve never really felt normal or natural, ordinary, typical or regular. Definitely not regular. I stood in HEB yesterday for a full three minutes trying to figure out if the slightly higher price per ounce on the quart jar of prune juice was worth not buying the big jug that I’d have to wrestle with.

             Okay, enough of that. Let’s move on to—What? Where’d the time go? Sorry about that. So, uh, watch your step on the way down. I’m going to stay up here a bit longer to settle my mind. – Beg pardon? Of course you don’t have to leave. I’ve always appreciated your company. So, what say we look to the eastern sky? No, to your right… – Next time.

mark@rooftopwriter.com – Please tune in on Wednesdays at noon (CST) to listen to Mark and Kay on “Hanging with the Hayters”. --  FM 104.5 and 106.1 for local listeners, and www.irlonestar.com for all parts of the planet. You can find videos of past shows on YouTube.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Language flaws

“An economy of words”

            According to the “Grapeshat Book of Best Things” English is the favoritest language in the world. It’s got better words that are easier to pronounce and faster to write. Plus, you can make up words and people will still know what you mean. Words like “favoritest.”

            Grapeshat was not all that impressed with the predominant language spoken in China. It was said that Mandarin Chinese has the same tone as a handful of forks and dimes hitting glass. German sounds like dropped furniture. The tonal quality of someone speaking Russian is much like the sound of someone starting a 1965 Dodge pickup. -- English? English sounds normal.

            Plus, English has more words than any other language. Yet, we don’t use many of ‘em, because we believe in an economy of words. That and we don’t know what most of our words mean. Not to worry, we have one word that can mean anything we want it to.

            Astronomer Carl Sagan used to talk about “the stuff of life.” The Chinese don’t have a word for “stuff.” A billion and a half people with no stuff. That’s why they hated Carl Sagan. To write “ the stuff of life” in Mandarin Chinese, it requires 87 diagrams using 36,436 symbols. And, it has to be spoken in the tune of "Jingle Bells" or no one can remember how to say it. That’s pretty much why the Chinese invented gunpowder.

            That being said, I discovered something just yesterday that was bumfuzzling. -- The Brits refer to it as  “fuzzling my bum.” -- I discovered that all languages have words, the equivalence of which, do not exist in other cultures.

            Take “shinrin-yoku.” That’s the word the Japanese use to explain the relaxation one gets from bathing in the forest. We’ve got nothing to match that… at least we didn’t up until now. You see, I’ve taken on the responsibility of creating words to keep the English language at the top of the Grapeshat list. – No, no. Stop the applause, and take your seats. -- So, in American-speak, the feeling you get while taking a bath in the forest is now called “woodsnarkers.” -- Yes, best keep notes.  

            Hungarians have a single word that refers to “quick-witted people who can come up with sophisticated jokes or solutions.” The word is “pihentagy├║.” (No joke.) We can’t come close to pihentagy├║.” What say we refer to sophisticated joke-telling, solution-devising individuals as “stuffers”? Works for me.

            The Eskimos have come up with a word that explains the anticipation of looking to see if your friends have arrived. They call it “iktsusarpok.” (Seriously.) In English, I suggest we call the constant checking up on arrivals as “tharyet?” It's spoken in a questioning tone.

            In Bavaria, the feeling one gets when a stoplight suddenly turns red and no one else is at the intersection is called “scarspit.” (I made this one up.) In America we will call such happenstance -- “handouch.” The word is derived from the sense one gets after smashing the palms of both hands on the steering wheel.

            In a language of the Philippines called “Tagalog”, the word “gigil” refers to the irresistible urge one gets to pinch or squeeze on someone who is adored. (True.) In America, we actually have gilgil’s equivalent. It is called “second-degree-felony.” 

            Back to Japan. “Natsukashii” is a Japanese word that expresses a “nostalgic longing for the past, with happiness for the fond memory, yet sadness that it is no longer.” (A deep thinking people, the Japanese.) In America, if anyone expresses such deep emotion, we shall call it “getoverstuff.”

            No language has a word that expresses the notion one should have when buying an item not knowing exactly what it is. -- Half and Half? It’s half cream and half milk. But, what kind of milk? Two percent? Four? Non-fat? – From now on, the practice of purchasing an unknown item will be referred to as “zagnut.” I got the idea while standing in the checkout at Cracker Barrel and spying a Zagnut candy bar. Does anyone know what kind of nut a zag is?

            No one has a word for the sense one gets when noticing something described as being from France, when it isn’t. -- French vanilla? How can the French possibly claim vanilla? They get theirs from Madagascar. -- French fries? The early French didn’t even eat potatoes. They fed ‘em to the hogs. It’s the Belgians who fried thin strips of potatoes. -- French toast came from America. – French’s mustard? Not from France. -- French pecan salad? Doesn’t even exist.

            Here’s the kicker. The French aren’t responsible for naming these items. We can blame it mostly on the British, the Belgians and the Americans. Yep, sim moi. So we don’t need to make up a word for, uh, whatever it was I was talking about, because we already have one. -- “Bullstuff.”

            Right now I think it wise to cease dispensing with the frivolous and let you get on with your rat killing. That’s what my dad used to jokingly tell us when he wanted us to leave him alone. – “Okay, get back to your rat killing!” -- That's known as a “Farisism.” – And, yes, best add it to your notes. – Next time.

markhayter@suddenlink.net – Please tune in on Wednesdays at noon to listen to Mark and Kay on “Hanging with the Hayters”. --  FM 104.5 and 106.1 as well as at www.irlonestar.com.