Letters and What They Mean

My mother-in-law ain’t been the same since she got that WEA.

Now, a WEA ain’t a disease. It is an abbreviation for Wireless Emergency Alert. That is when your new cell phone screeches to wake the dead, and you grab it and read a message warning that there’s bad weather around.

If this happens in the night, you’re awake for a while.

Anyway, Ms. Larda got a WEA around 2 a.m. one morning. It also went shrieking to my two brothers-in-law’s phones on the other side the house, so they all three shot out of bed. It said to take shelter because tornadoes were in the area. So they all stumbled to the one room in the house with no windows, which is a joint storage closet in the back.

She slapped on a bicycle helmet, like Bob Breck always said to do, and they all burrowed into the closet, bumping into each other and saying bad words – especially Ms. Larda, once she realized this closet was filled up with her sons’ dirty clothes. The power went out. After five minutes, so did she, right out of that closet, because she couldn’t hold her breath no more.

She was a changed woman after that. Maybe it was the oxygen deprivation. She come out mad as a wet hen. At everything. She called me to tell me about it.

I made the mistake of saying that the weather alarm is called a WEA. And she gets mad at that.

“Initials, initials, initials – all the time, initials. Why can’t nobody write words no more? This generation is going to die of laziness. LOL! ROFL! Why can’t we just laugh out loud or roll on the floor laughing? OMG!

Since she’s in that mood, it’s a good thing she’s getting out of town. She and some lady friends are taking a cruise to escape from July. She says it’s too hot to be outside, but inside, all you’ll hear on TV is people screeching about hurricanes and politicians. They will probably pre-empty her soaps.

I hope she calms down on this boat. She won’t be able to call or email from the ship, but she might get in touch if she takes a tour of one of the islands they’ll stop at.

She calls from the first island. On day one there was a lifeboat drill, almost as bad as a WEA except they didn’t try to asphyxiate her in a closet. And they talk in abbreviations worse than at home. They got a PCC (personal cruise consultant), OV (ocean view), SHOREX, (shore excursion) and PITR – for pain in the rear.

She is going to drink some tropical rum. Rum, she says, isn’t an abbreviation.

I got other things to worry about. I am a tour guide and back when I got started, my gentleman friend come up with the idea of having the Sloth Lounge sponsor my tours, with each tour beginning and ending at the Sloth. I even carry a jazz umbrella Ms. Larda made – she does creative sewing for a living – with a picture of Sippy the Sloth holding a Sloth Lounge go-cup.

It works out fine, but now Lust has gone and ordered a hundred Sloth Lounge Urban Tours T-shirts. I can wear one every night, and he’ll sell the others at the Sloth. He loves it when people pay to wear his ads around town.  

When they come in, I got to admit they’re very classy: cotton-polyester, with Sippy on the back. On the front, in tasteful black letters, just above the pocket, is the abbreviation for Sloth Lounge Urban Tours. “SLUT.”

We got a problem.

Ms. Larda would know how to fix this. I email her and hope she reads it at her next SHOREX. The next day, I get a reply.

“LOL,” it says.

At least she’s laughing. I guess the rum worked. Must be. But I have to fix this myself.

I call my friend Awlette, who’s the artistic type. She got an idea. “This is why God made Magic Markers, Modine,” she says. And what we do, we take each shirt and with a black marker, make the U into an O, and add a H at the end. Now it says “SLOTH.” Which is not an abbreviation. It is a real word.

That should make Ms. Larda happy.

Maybe even ROFL.



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