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Better Use It Carefully Or It Could Change Your Life!

, , , , , , | Learning | September 28, 2021

In university, my minor is in Translation. At the start of the first seminar of one of the courses, the teacher has us fill out a questionnaire. Some of the questions are straightforward and their purpose is clear, like, “Why are you interested in translation?” or, “What are your source and target languages?” (These are, respectively, the language you’ll be translating from and the one you’ll be translating into — in my case, English and Dutch.)

Other questions are less straightforward, like, “What is your favorite word in your source language?” (For the record, it’s “defenestrate”.) And then there’s this question:

Question: “Which words from your source language do you think native speakers would find hard to spell?”

Um… what? How am I supposed to know what words native English speakers find hard to spell, not being a native speaker of English myself? I ponder this question a bit, and all I can come up with is “knowledge” because it is spelled differently from its pronunciation, but again, I don’t know! The questionnaire is asking for multiple words, though, so I continue thinking, but I’m stuck.

All that’s going through my mind is the commercial I saw right before I went to class, for “Mary Poppins,” the musical. I start tapping along to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” trying to think of difficult English words. And then it hits me. THAT is a word that would be difficult to spell! Feeling a little mischievous, thoroughly done with this weird question, and also wondering what my teacher will make of it, I write Mary Poppins’ magical word down and hand in my questionnaire.

At the next seminar, the teacher returns our questionnaires with feedback. Next to my musically inspired answer is a question mark.

Teacher: “If you have any questions about my feedback, please ask them now.”

Me: “I have one, ma’am. What does this question mark next to question fourteen mean?”

Teacher: “Oh, yes, that. You know, you weren’t supposed to make up words for that question, [My Name].”

I’m puzzled that the teacher, who has kids, is apparently unfamiliar with this movie.

Me: “I didn’t? It’s from Mary Poppins.”

Before the teacher can respond, one of my classmates groans.

Classmate #1: “Did you seriously write down ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’?”

Me: “Yep!”

Now the teacher is the puzzled one.

Teacher: “This is really a word?”

Classmate #2: “It’s a song, ma’am.” *Starts singing* “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious…”

I and several other classmates fall in and sing the chorus and others start laughing and clapping along, until most of the class ends up singing,

Class: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”

We’re all laughing, while the teacher is looking at us like we’ve all turned purple.

Teacher: *Bewildered* “Okay, I guess it’s a word. You can ignore that question mark, [My Name].”

You Know Him Better Than That

, , , , | Right | September 26, 2021

I was working at a store when George Strait, the country singer, came in. My cashier was losing her mind before he even made it to the counter to pay for a service ticket and I had to send the poor girl to wait in the office. I took care of him away from the main registers and he wrote a check.

Me: “To run a check, I’ll need your ID.”

He just looked at me.

Me: “I’m sorry. I know who you are, but I need the driver’s license information to process the check.”

He laughed and it was all good. For the next eight years, my management laughed about the time I ID’d George Strait.

At Least A LITTLE Discretion Is Advised

, , , , | Related | September 18, 2021

I am picking up my seven-year-old nephew from school. I ask how his day went since he looks pretty sour, and after a little pressure:

Nephew: “I was reprimanded in music class and told to write to not say swears in the classroom. It’s so unfair!”

Me: “Oh? What did you do?”

Nephew: “I was told to research and present some stuff about my favorite song, things like rhythm and style, and write what it is about, but the teacher got pissed when I sang mine. She didn’t get angry at others!”

I’m puzzled, and sort of not believing what he’s saying, but I figure it’s worth letting him tell the whole story.

Me: “Uh… but what song was it? Do you remember the lyrics?”

Nephew: “It was [Song], and I remember the lyrics! Listen: ‘Australian Aborigines lay down on the ground and, with a roar of fertility, release their c** into the Earth.’”

I freeze, a little startled by the… unusual choice of song, both because the singer it’s from is not the easiest of songwriters to understand, even for adults, because the sound is pretty atypical, and because, well, the lyrics aren’t the most appropriate. I stop close by his home, trying to keep my poker face.

Me: “Do you actually understand what that stanza is saying?”

Nephew: “Yeah! Aboriginal people sometimes lay belly-down on the ground, and then they spray the boys’ seed of life into the Earth.”

Me: “But you know what that seed of life is?”

Nephew: “No… Actually, do you know?”

I pretended to not know, as I wasn’t exactly thrilled by the prospect of explaining ejaculation like that, but I did get to talk with his dad. Apparently, his father — my brother — and his wife had decided to do away with parental control on media as soon as he started grade school… even if it meant having some very awkward talks with teachers about the child’s language and tastes.

Sing Like Nobody’s Listening

, , , , , | Related | September 6, 2021

When I’m about thirteen years old, my mother takes me to a concert for one of my favorite singers. I love singing but am usually discouraged from doing it, but I’m so excited to be here that I let myself sing along to whatever is being sung, confident that no one can really hear me over the noise of the concert.

Halfway through, I catch my mother giving me a weird look and clearly trying not to laugh. I stop singing.

Me: “What?”

Mother: “Nothing. It’s nothing. Just— I love you.”

She told me later that evening that the singer had forgotten some of the words to her song, but I had been having too much of a good time to notice, and the people around us were watching me continue to sing without a care in the world, even when the singer fumbled!

Behind The Curtain, Another Mindless Coworker

, , , , , , , | Working | September 3, 2021

I was having a conversation with two of my coworkers. I can’t remember what exactly it was about or why I chose this word, but I remember the ending. It made me giggle.

Me: “Well, you could always pantomime it.”

Coworker #1: “I could do what?”

Me: “Pantomime it.”

Coworker #1: *Pauses* “What?”

Coworker #2: “Pantomime!”

Coworker #1: “Is that even a word? Are you two making this up?”

Me: “What? It’s a real word!”

Coworker #2: “It means to, like, pretend to do something. Like in charades.”

Coworker #1: “Oh… And it’s a real word? You’re not pulling my leg?”

Me: “Have you ever listened to Queen’s song The Show Must Go On? Or seen the movie Moulin Rouge? It’s used in a line in the song, even.”

Coworker #1: “You know I haven’t seen or listened to anything earlier than 2010!”

Coworker #2: “But it’s friggin Queen!

I had to pull up my dictionary app to show him that it was, in fact, a real word.