Monthly Archives: August 2009

Words lose their effect

Words are meaningless. Well, some words. Let me explain: There actually were good old days when a handshake sealed a deal, when people who promised to pay actually came through, when people didn’t need to get into the “did not/did too” entanglement.

Nowadays, too many words tend to be laden with sarcasm. The last time you heard someone say, “excuuuze me,” “sorrry” or “You’re so-oo much help” you probably weren’t seduced by notions of sincerity.

Lately, even “hel-lo,” sometimes followed by a question mark, communicates an I-think-you’re-stupid meaning. It’s a close relative of “duh,” or if you’re a Homer Simpsonite, “doh.”

A vivid throwback to the olden days came when my wife and I were looking for an economical used car, with the idea of passing it on to one of our sons, down the road. Continue reading

Asleep during grammar class

Several of us were chatting about what we learned in elementary school, and most agreed the subject that caused the most difficulty was grammar.

My wife and I visited with a new acquaintance, Meggie, at a staff party Saturday. I made the point — with as much veracity as I could muster — that I had slept through most grammar classes during my years at Immaculate Conception School.

But years later, what I dozed through came back when I needed it. It gives credence to those learn-in-your-sleep foreign language lessons, which don’t work for me.

So the grammar rules somehow returned when I decided the noblest professions are teaching and writing. They’re far more rewarding than medicine, law, social work, the ministry, engineering, psychiatry, the theater, business or athletics. No contest. (Not that I’ve done all or any of these things, mind you.) Continue reading

From the mailbag

The columns I most enjoy writing are those that include reader comments. A few recent columns have generated some reaction and response, some of which appear here.

People reacted to last week’s column on menudo and squash. I’m happy to say that most of the comments agree with my stance that I’d request neither item as my last meal. What would be preferable? That’s easy. Cocoa Puffs smothered in Velveeta Cheese.

But on a slightly more serious note, a large combination plate like my neighbor, Carmen Vigil, used to make, would be fine.

Now to the mailbag: Continue reading

Menudo? No thanks

Every fourth week we used to go through Expulsion Saturday. It was the time when at Mom’s insistence and our extremely willing compliance she’d usher Dad and all us kids out of the house to fend for ourselves.

We had the whole day free. My siblings Bingy, Severino and I generally spent that day at the Serf Theater, where the films were continuous, and by the time we left there, we had all the lines and songs memorized.

Let me explain:

Once a month, on a Saturday it was our mother’s chance to prepare and eat — totally undisturbed — a bowl of menudo. Mom may have felt guilt by not offering the rest of us a chance to gourmandize with her, but on the contrary, we were all thankful. The catch is, she may not have known our patent, latent and blatant revulsion to eating a plate of the chewy, mushy stuff. Continue reading