About Me

My photo
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Granny-O's Pronunciation

Granny went to school and - remarkably for a young girl of her time and station - she graduated from Park City High School in May, 1917. She was 17 years of age and lovely. She had perfect skin and the mostly perfectly square face I have ever seen. Her hair was very dark. I only ever knew her with gray and white and blue hair. Her eyes were hazel, which is a color I've never quite understood. But I can tell you her eyes sometimes looked brown, sometimes green, sometimes almost golden. I guess that's what "hazel" means. She was tiny. I don't believe she ever reached 5 feet tall because I am that size and I think she was smaller. She wore size 4 shoes.

In order to attend the high school, she had to move into town and stay there Monday through Friday. It was arranged that she would board with the local doctor's family in exchange for some light housekeeping on school days and go home on weekends. More will be blogged about that doctor's high school graduation gift to Granny, which now belongs to me - a venerable thing I shall have the Badger photograph.

Granny was almost 53 when I was born, so half of the time we had together, I was a child and she was the adult. But once I was also an adult, I observed that she had been decently educated. In 1960, she still recited Hiawatha from memory, with inflection. Her handwriting was perfect Palmer Method and she could spell. She spent time at crossword puzzles, Scrabble, Yahtzee, cards and was an avid reader. She loved a mystery story and could usually figure it out before the end. A good brain and a good curious mind had my Granny.

So, as Cousin [my favorite girl cousin to whom I was actually spiritually attached] and I used to say, "She's so sharp, but what the heezy is with "_______" ? [Insert particular words here - the ones that Granny had no intention of saying correctly, no matter who pointed out her faux pas. And when one pointed out such a faux pas, it was never acknowledged. Silence. As if it hadn't been spoken. The elephant in the room.]

A whole culture grew up around Granny's pronunciations. Various relatives learned to avoid eye contact with the others who would be most likely to cause them to howl out loud. One didn't want to howl out loud at Granny. She was a revered woman who didn't have a well-developed sense of humor. While 40 others of us would guffaw and roll around on the floor about something or nothing, Granny would sit in her chair completely straight-faced. She wanted to be in the mix with us, but she just didn't seem to "get" humor. She detested W.C. Fields and Bob Hope and Lucille Ball.

So ~ just the tiniest taste of Granny's fractured figures of speech:

Who knows why we were sitting around speaking of lesbians? Who cares? Maybe one of us had read a book or seen a movie or had a friend or was curious. When Granny first said "lisbon", Cousin and I exchanged a glance. The conversation went on. She said "lisbon" repeatedly. Cousin and I could no longer make eye contact for fear of unbecoming behavior. I never heard her pronounce the word in any other way. As if such women were Portuguese . . . .

My Granny wanted to visit Hawaii in the worst way. She finally did on several occasions after Grandpa died. She was attracted to all things Hawaiian, read everything about Hawaii, always bought a Hawaii calendar, bought leis, ate pupu, went to luaus, visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial about which she was sentimental because Pearl Harbor Day was her 41st birthday and she sent many sons to the war in the Pacific. She ate cottage cheese with pineapple for her lunch every day of life, giving a tip of the hat to Hawaii. The name of that place she loved was "Ha-WY-ya". I never heard her say it any differently.

When some family members moved to Las Vegas, Granny became a senior citizen good time girl. She loved to play nickel slot machines and she had a thing for Engelbert Humperdinck at age 78. My mother indulged her by taking her to the man's shows on practically every visit. Granny had the autographed photos, the personal mention from the stage - "It's lovely to see Granny with us again this evening." God knows how my mother managed that! Finally, through a labyrinth of smarmy Las Vegas deals, it was arranged that Granny would get to meet her idol backstage. She was 80 years old and wore a pink dress with a white corsage. Her hair had been made freshly blue and she wore lipstick. Very rare occurrence! I wonder what the man thought when she called him Engel-borg. Because that's the only way she'd ever been known to say his name!

Lest the reader think I am being mean by cackling at my Granny, I say this: although she didn't have much of a sense of humor, I do. Although she didn't laugh her way through her life, I must. Although she didn't work hard to get the snicker from others, I always have. I think she'd be pleased that I'm keeping her memory alive. Even if she didn't understand the vehicle. Hey, Granny ~ I thought of you and Engel-borg and your pink dress and corsage today. And it made me really, really happy.

In my ears right now: The sound of "yes, we can accommodate you." I fiddled around and failed to make a massage appointment until it was almost embarrassing to call. I didn't hold out much hope. But, "yes", for 2 glorious hours tonight! Hey, it's Las Vegas! We want everything and we want it right now. Mostly, we can get it, too. I book plenty of carpet cleaning appointments set for arrival at screwy hours.

Something that charmed me today: A friend was given some Starbucks gift cards in appreciation of extra effort at work. These were shared with me, and I hadn't done anything noble to deserve them. I protested. I was told, "I want you to have them."


  1. Your Granny and my Grandma V should have gotten together. V also called the place where we lived for 4 years ha-WY-ya, even after she visited and heard it pronounced correctly many times. The knife that she used to cut bread? Segergated. Anthurium flowers? Anthrums. Peonies? pee-OH-nies. The city just across the border from San Diego? Tia-WA-na. (Although to be fair, many pronounce it that way.) And sense of humor? What's that? V was not a great cook but she made mountains of food when we visited and expected it all to be eaten--or else. One time she added the spices to her pumpkin pie batter too soon and the spices clumped. My younger brother innocently asked (repeatedly) if there were raisins in the pie. Talk about bite your lip and try not to roll on the floor! Thanks for the laugh.

  2. Dooz, this landed at the perfect time! I'm setting out for nearly 17 miles on my feet. I'd nearly talked myself out of it . . now, here I go. More later. Thank you for the gift of your comment!

  3. By the time the marathon rolls around you will be glad you made yourself get up and go on days like this. Some of us went for a ride this morning before it got too hot--going to be a scorcher here! We need seat time before the Seattle to Portland ride (200 miles in 2 days) next weekend. I remembered another V saying after I went to bed--got a fit of the giggles. She ate prunes to keep her "physic." hahaha

  4. Badger, the saddest thing (you've heard me say it 1 million times) is that Granny didn't know Amber. She missed her by 3 years. But I'm also sad you didn't know her. She'd have admired you. She'd have told me, "Honey, he's a good man. So smart and a hard worker." Those were things she admired.