The trouble with words
LORI OSIECKI ILLUSTRATION
I don’t have a dirty mind. It is a problem.
I finally learned to be suspicious of any word that sounds funny or crops up in a sentence where it doesn’t belong. Rack. Sausage. Peach. A nice pair of anything. And if somebody smirks, I know I’m right.
But still. Me and my daughter Gladiola are strolling along Decatur Street and we see this nice looking man hurry out of a toy store carrying a shopping bag. The handle on the bag breaks and two big rubber balls bounce out. He don’t notice.
“MISTER!” I yell, “GRAB YOUR BALLS!”
And that’s why my daughter won’t go out in public with me no more.
It ain’t my fault. I had a very protected childhood. My mama taught me to say “hiney” and “crotch” instead of the real words for you-know-what and the other you-know-what.
My late husband Lout’s mama taught him to say “backside” and “underside” for these same body parts. It is a wonder we ever had children. We had to do a lot of guesswork.
So I made up my mind that I would teach my kids the correct anatomical terms. “Rear end” and “bottom.” (My son, Gargoyle, of course, also had a peep-peep.)
When he’s 2-and-a-half, Gargoyle gets to that smart-mouth stage where they say bad words real loud to get attention. One day, in the grocery store checkout line, he keeps yelling ESSYEX. Later on, I realize he must have heard my mother-in-law Ms. Larda whispering s-e-x.
I tell her and she comes up with an idea. She said pick some random words and whisper them to me when he’s in the room, and I’ll act all shocked. So I do. Monocle. Plume. Yak.
It works like a charm. The next time I have him at the grocery he yells out “Monocle!” Everyone turns and looks at him (Because why would a little kid yell that?) so he thinks it’s a real bad word. Even better, it also works on his sisters. To this day, none of my kids ever says “monocle,” except in a whisper.
I knew God would eventually punish me for misleading my children, and He finally got around to it. I am babysitting my grandkids out in Folsom while my daughter Gumdrop and her husband are away overnight. Now, Folsom is a little country town maybe 90 miles north of here. They got horses and cows and vegetables growing out the ground – weird stuff like that.
Before Gumdrop leaves, she gives me 1,002 important directions and says if I have any problems, here’s the phone number for her friend Dina who lives down the road. Also, I should expect a CSA delivery, whatever that is.
That night I tuck the kids in and decide to relax in front the TV. The local news ain’t relaxing – some convicts escaped – so I switch to a movie. Unfortunately, Killer Farmboys ain’t relaxing either. I don’t sleep much.
Next morning, me and the kids wait for the school bus at an ungodly hour; then I hustle back to the house – I had locked the door even though the bus stop is only 20 feet away. Inside, the phone message light is blinking. I press “play.” A man’s voice says, “I’m coming over with a big cucumber for you and ...” I don’t hear the rest. Maybe because I’m screaming.
I am in my car and five miles down the road when I realize I shouldn’t abandon the children. I take a lot of deep breaths and call Gumdrop’s friend Dina to ask if the Folsom police will arrest somebody for bragging about his cucumber. And I tell her what happened.
There is a silence on her end. Then she asks did I happen to watch Killer Farmboys last night. I say yes, and she says I should meet her back at Gumdrop’s.
So I go back and Dina is standing on the porch next to a bushel basket of vegetables. It is a CSA basket, she says. Turns out CSA means Community Supported Agriculture. (Why couldn’t they just say “local farmer’s weekly vegetable delivery?” Because that would make too much sense?)
And one of the vegetables is a cucumber as long as my forearm. I guess I got a dirty mind after all.
Sometimes a cucumber is just a cucumber.