Monthly Archives: May 2013

Watch your darned language

Edward Albee got it absolutely right in his play, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” When one of George and Martha’s guests asked if she could use the restroom, George said to Martha, “Will you show our little guest to the — uh — euphemism?”

Euphemism? That’s the perfect word. It means “a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.”

Even the word “restroom,” which is where the little guest wished to go, is a euphemism, a softening of the “real word,” toilet. Do people who go to restrooms have any intention of resting?

Anyone who’s traveled to Europe doubtless is convinced that those on the other side of the Atlantic don’t hesitate to use “toilet” to represent what it really is. Continue reading

The treat is on whom?

On the occasion of a birthday for one of us, my wife and I joined my sister Dorothy and her husband Joe Maestas for dinner at El Rialto. The rule in the Trujillo household is that the inviter pays for the invitee. And maybe that’s why we don’t invite others all that often.

But if we can inveigle one another to make the suggestion and turn it into an invitation, we’re willing. We’d almost finished our meal when the waitperson came by with the bill and took brother-in-law Joe’s credit card for processing.

At that moment, our long-time friend, Eddie Groth, entered, stopped by our åtable and said, “I would have been happy to buy your meal, but I see you’ve already taken care of it.”

Not 10 seconds later, the waitperson returned to our table to explain that somehow Joe’s card had been rejected. Those things happen; sometimes the card simply has to be swiped again. Continue reading

Who’s responsible for alphabet?

Thumbing through the pages of a website called The Straight Dope, I came across a question that is totally relevant during May, the month of graduations.

Someone on the website asked, “Why is the alphabet in alphabetical order?” The reader adds, “Who decided A was the first letter, B was the second, and so on?”

Excellent questions. Check the dictionary for virtually any popular, western language, and you’ll find things pretty much in A, B, C, D order, whether the language be English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French or any number of tongues that use characters resembling ours.

The question of the ordering of things takes me back to a long-lost Thanksgiving meal at our school, when I was in about the fifth grade. At that time, those who opted for the noon meal at school — and that was most of the student body — went to the cafeteria at Immaculate Conception School, and, naturally, got to line up alphabetically to partake of the turkey with all the trimmings. Continue reading

Now that’s a gentleman!

It was a great feeling, reading the letter by a true gentleman. And maybe a scholar too, who wrote articulately, in a balanced manner and laid the blame at the altar of politicians.

Let me explain:

The letter writer’s identify is still a secret, but we do know that he’s a wrestler from Rio Grande High School in Albuquerque who was in the middle of an exam at the time the court case he was involved in was taking place. That made it impossible for him to attend the court hearing; his attorney read the letter for him. Continue reading

Curses! It’s cursive

Remember the days of yore when people used to write? We’re talking about writing in two senses: writing a letter, for instance, and also using our pencils and pens to help us create messages someone else could read.

Being a left-hander sort of excused me from winning or even competing in any penmanship sweepstakes at Immaculate Conception School, as our homeroom teacher in third grade, Sister Mary Plena Escritura would usually say, “What can we expect from Arthur? After all, he’s a left-hander.”

So naturally, vowing never to attempt a job that required writing things by hand, I ended up in journalism. One day, when working in Gallup, N.M., I came across an issue of Editor and Publisher, the trade publication for people in journalism and scanned a column titled “Who writes the most?” I wasn’t surprised that in those days, the early ’60s, the honor went to desk sergeants in police stations, who needed to field countless phone messages every day. Continue reading