‘The noblest of all dogs is the hotdog. It feeds the hand that bites it.” (Laurence J. Peter)
“Persuasion is logic on fire.”
It’s Saturday, July 9, 2005, Peter Mansbridge is reading the CBC National News. His first words are, “Hurricane Dennis is bigger and badder.”
Miss Anderson was a knuckle rapper. She’d have wrapped his knuckles at least twice for that one. His news broadcasts in days to follow added a litany of “gonna’s,” “gotta’s,” “gotcha’s,” with some “scared’s” thrown in, and they’re still coming, all of which would have guaranteed him sore knuckles forever.
Step off the beaten path in Miss Anderson’s Grade 7 Grammar class and her ruddy oak stick. About the size of a horse riding whip, worn as smooth as a baby’s bottom from her continuous caressing, it came down upon the miscreant’s knuckles with the precision of a master swordsman.
We Grade 7 kids hated that stick more than we hated her. “Kids” was an example, a word if used incorrectly, brought a whack. “A kid is a baby goat” was the reminder accompanying the whack.
Peter’s language malfeasance is cited as a lead-in. It popped up from my incessant pile of notes on things relevant and irrelevant, and brought Miss Anderson to mind.
Who among us doesn’t wander into language slop once in a while? We just don’t have a Miss Anderson to keep us on the straight and narrow, and sometimes, not even leaders in the chattering class either.
Nonetheless a thank you is due Peter, his producers, and writers, for regurgitating Miss Anderson’s memory, and forcing a personal realization.
Those language whacks, and that ruddy stick, dug word rules deep into the psyche, growing into a fascination with our language, resulting in the admiration of all who use it well.
Maybe a few sore knuckles was worth it, eh? She never broke the skin on a finger, so time and memory may have increased the force of the whack, suggesting there’s the possibility there’re a lot of us out here who owe her.
Life’s lessons come in so many different packages we often fail to see them till it’s too late to say thanks in person, eh?
Miss Anderson and her stick would be the one breaking the rules today, especially her whacks, but I guess she wasn’t the bad example I’ve been telling the ‘kids’ about after all.
Bob Talbert summed it up nicely: “Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.”
“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” (Mark Twain)
Perspectives . . .
It depends where you’re standing and looking sometimes. Just when you’re sure there’s nothing new under the sun a memory takes you back, a new friend comes along, or a new book takes your thoughts where they’ve never been before.
Sarah Parvis included the following quote from Paul Reiser in her book A Quotable Feast. It’s crammed with quotations about food, cooking and eating, some used as separators in this column.
“So where did these cravings come from?”, I guess Paul asked himself. “I concluded it’s the baby ordering in. Prenatal takeout. Even without ever being in a restaurant, fetuses develop remarkably discerning palates, and they are not shy about demanding what they want. If they get a hankering, they just pick up the umbilical cord and call. ‘You know what would taste good right now? A cheeseburger, large fries, and a vanilla shake. And if you could, hurry it up, because I’m supposed to grow a lung in half an hour.” (Paul Reiser, Babyhood, 1997)
The best part of shopping, even better than finding what you want, is, in my book, stepping into a store, being greeted with a smile, a hello and your first name.
‘Big’ can’t do that, and never will.
Sarah Parvis’ book came onto our bookshelves last week after a short browse in Jan Stick’s bookstore — where Steve’s Music was until June.
I’m still in the old-style address mode, you know, “it’s across from Mary and Bill’s place” or whatever. It’s Well-Read Books, Jan Stick’s new place on Fourth Avenue. Go ahead, try the rocking chair.
There has always been a food processor in the kitchen. She was usually called the missus or Mom. (Sue Berkman)
A tip of the hat to artists with food, words, and those special, artistic Yukon entrepreneurs whose stores are so nicely laid out. They say, ‘welcome, old friend’ as soon as you walk in the door — followed by their personal hello.