Having Words With Myself

Every now and then the playback needle in my brain skips a groove and ends up on a different track altogether.  (And if you don’t understand that reference, you’re probably too young to be reading my blog.)

When the needle skips, it’s as though I’m a foreigner looking at our language for the first time.  Words I’ve used for decades suddenly look weird and unfamiliar, and I feel compelled to discover their origin.  And if I stare at a word too long, no matter how familiar it is I’ll begin to question whether I’ve spelled it correctly – it looks wrong no matter how I rearrange the letters.

That happened to me earlier this week, and I’m hoping it’s only because the last couple of weeks have been immensely stressful:  It’s the usual craziness of releasing a book plus a spate of family illnesses and deaths, all in addition to the never-ending gong show that is our house construction.

At least, I’m hoping it’s only the stress that’s making my brain twist.  But even if my word-weirdness is the harbinger of some dire malady, at least I’m getting a chuckle out of the symptoms.

For instance:

The phrase “He’s holding his own” is meant to indicate that someone is holding up under pressure and not requiring the help of others.  But whenever I hear that expression my mind immediately demands, “Holding his own what?”  Which is quickly followed by, “I hope he washes his hands afterward.”

In the same vein, ‘He knows how to handle himself’ is also supposed to be an admiring comment, but you can probably guess where my brain goes with that.  (I wrote ‘he knows how to handle himself’ in Kiss And Say Good Spy; and I admit I was grinning when I did it.)  Whenever I hear or read that phrase I wonder whether it’s being used as a compliment or a filthy innuendo.

…And don’t even get me started about the word ‘innuendo’.  To me it sounds like The Godfather describing a kinky sex act:  “In-u-end-o!”

‘Feckless’ makes me giggle, too.  The online dictionary tells me it’s derived from the Scottish word ‘feck’, which means ‘effect’; therefore ‘feckless’ means ‘useless, incompetent, ineffective’.  I always think of ‘feck’ as an Irish expletive, so in my mind ‘feckless’ should mean ‘not giving a feck’.  E.g. “I’ve been doing this stupid job for so long I’m feckless about it.”  Or “If he fell off the face of the earth, I’d be feckless”.

‘Gormless’ is an intrinsically funny word.  Unlike the others, it doesn’t remind me of any other word (except maybe ‘worm’) but even if I’d never heard it before, I think I’d still identify it as an insult.  Like ‘flaccid’, ‘gormless’ is a word whose sound suits its meaning perfectly.

And speaking of the way words sound, I have to smother a smile when anybody says ‘Doing his/her duty’, too.  Unless the speaker enunciates very clearly, I hear ‘doing his/her doody’… which is another thing entirely.  (Please pass the toilet paper.)

What word or phrase never fails to make you snicker?

Snake And Mayonnaise

Yes, that title does actually read ‘Snake And Mayonnaise’.  That’s what I thought I saw on a poster not long ago.

You guessed it – I’ve been misreading words as usual.

It turned out the poster was actually advertising the movie ‘Snake and Mongoo$e’, but snake & mayo sounded more appetizing.  (I was hungry at the time.)  I’ve had rattlesnake fondue and it was tasty, so I was willing to give snake & mayo a try.  I thought maybe it would be like a lobster roll.  Yum.

Or not.

Speaking of eating, I did a double-take a few weeks ago when Hubby and I were shopping for new cutlery.  I didn’t realize Lagostina made flatware called ‘Enema’.  It sounded… uncomfortable.  Fortunately, the flowing script on the box actually spelled out ‘Enigma’, but we bought a different brand just in case.

And my mind must have been in that… er… area, because a few days later, I saw a Facebook status that read ‘I just pooped in Safeway’.  (Safeway is a supermarket chain here in Canada.)  I was recoiling in disgust when I realized it really said ‘popped into Safeway’.  Whew.

Also on Facebook, I came to a screeching halt when I read the status of one of my guy friends:  ‘I can’t believe I’m following a live blog about an erection’.

I couldn’t believe it either.  In the first place, who live-blogs about their erection?  Wait, no!  Don’t answer that!  I don’t even want to know…

Anyway, it turned out the word in question was ‘election’, so that was a relief.

In advertising news, I discovered the headline ‘Volkswagen takes big swing with Golf Rodent’.  I realize car manufacturers must be struggling to find names for their new models, but ‘Rodent’ was one I never thought I’d see.

And I still haven’t.  The headline was ‘Volkswagen takes big swing with Golf R debut’.  But you know?  I’d totally buy a Volkswagen Rodent.  Perfect for scurrying through traffic and squeezing into tight spaces…

Speaking of advertising, I got all excited when I discovered an ad for  ‘Vicious Women Magazine International’.  Now that sounds like my kinda mag!

But… no, not so much.  Turned out it was ‘Virtuous Women Magazine’, a religious publication written “…to encourage young ladies to embrace their calling of becoming virtuous women and daughters polished after the similitude of a palace”.  It scared the shit out of me, but I’m sure lots of young ladies (or more likely their parents) find value in it.  Different strokes…

Then I thought I’d found an ideal reader for Vicious Women Magazine, if there was such a publication.  The young woman in question was wearing a T-shirt that proclaimed, “Kiss me, I’m a monster”.  I was chuckling and wondering where I could buy one when I took a second look and realized the T-shirt said ‘modster’, not ‘monster’.

I didn’t know what a modster was, so I googled it.  And even then, I wasn’t sure.  There’s a Modster site that offers fashion advice; but the Urban Dictionary says a modster is “An asshole hipster. Usually someone who ruins the vibe at a good bar.”

I have no discernible fashion sense and I like to think I’m congenial company at the bar, so I guess I won’t buy that T-shirt after all.

But I’m still willing to try snake & mayo.  And if they ever release a car named the Rodent, I’ll be first in line!

* * *

Belly-dancing update:  We learned some new moves this week.  Or rather, the instructor introduced some new moves, which is not exactly the same thing.  One of them was the ¾ shimmy:  shaking our hips in ¾ time while walking.  Ever heard of St. Vitus’s Dance?  Yeah, that’s how I looked.  I nearly dislocated my butt.

I tried a memory technique to remember the names of the new moves, and it worked really well.  “Umi” refers to a circling movement of the hips that includes a suggestive pelvic tilt.  That move became “do-me” in my mind, and I’ll never forget it now.  But I don’t think I’ll share that particular mnemonic with the rest of the class…

The Sound Of Dementia

I really hope it’s not dementia, but my rate of misreads has increased considerably since I found the kiss-ass typo back in April.

Soon after that, I read ‘in my whorehouse’ over on Murr Brewster’s blog.  It wouldn’t have surprised me if she actually had written that, but she didn’t – it was ‘in my wheelhouse’.  (Murr is one funny blogger – go see for yourself!)

A short while later, I thought our Chamber of Commerce was mixing sacred with secular when I saw their poster advertising  ‘Holy Sponsorships Available for Play With The Presidents’.  A second reading revealed they were actually advertising hole sponsorships for their annual golf tournament.

My dirty mind kicked in when I saw the following tweet:  ‘I’ve ordered myself some Golden Snatch earrings…’  It took me a few moments to figure out that it was a Harry Potter reference and the earrings were actually little-bitty replicas of the ‘Golden Snitch’.

And I guess I wasn’t sufficiently recovered from that when I did a double-take at a condom ad trumpeting1GET UP TO ASS IN SAVINGS’.  It was in all caps with a sans serif font, which is always harder (I said ‘harder’… *snicker*) to read than mixed case (that’s my excuse, anyway).  After I’d finished giggling, it took me a couple of tries to decipher ‘GET UP TO $5 IN SAVINGS’.

Another ‘say what?!?’ moment arrived in my email when my Meetup group invited me to enjoy ‘Lesbian food and belly dancing’.  I’m a major foodie, but I’ve never heard of that cuisine before.  Turned out it was ‘Lebanese’ food, which didn’t seem quite as exotic, somehow.

Even business headlines weren’t safe.  I read ‘Things Sales Winners Deformity’ instead of ‘Do Differently’ and ‘get back to bananas’ instead of ‘back to business’.  And I discovered a cabinet company that offers ‘customer insults’.  Or possibly ‘customer installs’, though insults are well within the realm of possibility.

I can’t remember which community site entreated ‘Looking for a spare cowboy to borrow for a few weeks’.  But it turned out they were only looking for a spare ‘carboy’ to brew a batch of beer.

My mind was clearly on bodily functions the day I read ‘Fanfart’, which sounds like something to avoid at all costs.  The article was actually referring to ‘fanart’ – art done by fans of specific books.

But by far my most disturbing misread happened when I was perusing a music website.  I’m a huge Bob Seger fan, and I was indignant to discover they were snidely referring to his upcoming concert tour as “The Sound of Dementia”.  So he’s in his late sixties, so what?  Seger is amazing, and that was completely rude and uncalled-for!  Closer inspection revealed that the site was in fact a list of upcoming concerts: “The Sound of Dalmatia Tour”, “Bob Seger”, and “NeYo”, among others.

So I settled my ruffled feathers with the knowledge that the dementia was all in my head.  I didn’t know dementia had a sound, but in my case it’s apparently rather empty and echoing.

* * *

1 Would you believe I misread my own words while proofing this?  I saw “humping” instead of “trumpeting”.  Please… somebody help me…

Rorschach Poster Child

I’ve mentioned several times that I tend to misread text.  I’ve speculated that it may be some latent form of dyslexia, or maybe just a combination of carelessness and a twisted mind.  After the picture I just saw on Facebook, though, I’m leaning toward the probability of a terminally twisted mind.

When I first saw it I thought, “That is a seriously weird picture.  It looks like a little bald alien being throttled from behind by a gorilla”.  Even after staring at it for several seconds, I still couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to be.

At this point, I’ll offer my sincere apologies to the photographer and to whoever posted and/or enjoyed this on the internet, because it was actually a soft-focus silhouette of a mother kissing her child.  Or chewing its throat out; it was hard to be certain.  It was accompanied by a touching text on motherhood, so I presume it’s the former.

Anyway, that’s when I realized there’s a tiny possibility that my mind might be wired just a leetle differently than everybody else’s.

So I did what any self-respecting geek would do:  quantify.  I went looking for Rorschach inkblots on the internet.

And guess what I found?

A troll riding a chopped Harley.

Here he is, with his big ugly feet propped up on the highway pegs, his leather handlebar fringe flying in the breeze:

rorschach harley

According to Wikipedia, this is a “nonstandard” response.  Most people interpret it as a bear-skin rug or some other sort of animal hide.  But it’s definitely a biker troll to me.

This one looks like two of Santa’s elves high-fiving over their recent foot amputation:

rorschach elves

Though when I looked at it again, I could see two bears dancing upside-down on their forepaws while balancing a traffic hazard cone on each of their butts, squishing pomegranates with one paw.

When I read the first part of the wiki on that one, I thought I might be coming a little closer to the norm; it does actually mention references to blood.

But then they diverged into discussions of sexual overtones and though I pride myself on my dirty mind, that reference sailed right by me.  It’s either dancing bears or elves, and neither of those makes my socks roll up and down.

The rest of the inkblot images are little more ambiguous, and apparently the final one gives most people trouble:

rorschach garden

According to the wiki, “people who find it difficult to deal with many concurrent stimuli may not particularly like this otherwise pleasant card”.

Well, I can’t multi-task worth shit.  I can’t even work on the computer and listen to music at the same time.  I get intensely stressed when I’m in a situation where two people are talking to me simultaneously.  Ergo, this card should bother me.

My immediate reaction: “I love it!  It’s a happy little undersea garden with coral and seahorses and fish and blue crab-like critters, all tucked underneath the Eiffel tower.”

Go figure.

So I have to know:  What do you see in these photos?  (I won’t ask if you think I’m abnormal.  I already know the answer to that.)

P.S. I just discovered that WordPress has been displaying ads here on my blog.  I didn’t even realize it was happening because logged-in users don’t see them.  Please accept my apologies – I loathe the thought that you’ve been ad-spammed on my blog!  I just hurried off to pay the pound of flesh that will prevent WordPress from doing that again. 

I don’t know what they might have showed you, but I definitely DO NOT endorse any product or service they’ve advertised here.  I’m very sorry if it appeared that I did. 

Grrr! *stomps off to read the fine print more thoroughly*