Thursday, May 31, 2012

Moms Say the Darndest Things

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but I think we've finally had some success with my Mom. (Yes, in this analogy, I am equating the "old dog" with my Mom.) (No, I don't think she'll like that.)

For years, whenever Mom would talk about Walmart she would add an unnecessary "s" at the end of "Walmart." She would say things like, "I'm going to the Walmarts to get some tube socks." Or, "I found the cutest outfit at the Walmarts." Or, "Did you hear about the shooting over at the Walmarts?"

My brother and I, in our endless need to tease and torment my Mom, would then say, "Oh, really? You're going to more than one Walmart?" We've been hounding her constantly about this for years. Then, suddenly, a while back she started saying it correctly. She would say things like, "I'm going to go get some barbecue sauce at the WalmarT." (She would emphasize the "t" to make sure we knew she was saying it right.)

We were amazed. Even at her advanced age (39-ish), she was able to learn something new! And so, with that, she never said anything ever again that we were able to tease her about.


My brother and I tormenting my Mom, as usual. (She's the short one in the middle.)

Just the other day she was visiting and we went to Wendy's to eat lunch. I asked her what she wanted. She said, "McNuggets." I pointed out to her that, since we were at Wendy's, I didn't think she would be able to get "McNuggets." It took a while for it to dawn on her why she couldn't get "McNuggets" at Wendy's. But, that didn't stop her from referring to her chicken nuggets as "McNuggets" three more times during the course of our lunch.

As her son and official tormentor, I was obliged to point it out and mock her every time she said it. That's what a loving son does.

If there ever comes a time when she hasn't said anything mockable for a while (it's rare, but it does occasionally happen), we will ask her to say one of her old standbys. We will ask her what the largest city in Illinois is. (Her answer: "Chi-CARR-go.") Or what state Boston is in. (Her answer: "Mass-a-TOO-sets.") Or what is downstairs by the clothes dryer. (Her answer: "the war-shing machine.")

It's fun, it's easy, and if we didn't do it she'd wonder if we still loved her.

Of course, my Mom isn't the only one who misprounounciates things. When my brother's mother-in-law tries to talk about a couch "cushion," she calls it a "QUEE-shun." And, according to her, the shortened nickname of former basketball star Shaquille O'Neal is not "Shaq," but "Shag," making him sound more like a carpet and less like an out-building. (I'm not sure which is better.)

Unfortunately, from time to time, I've found myself on the wrong end of some mispronouncial mocking. Apparently, I have trouble with some words that begin with the letters "hu." In my voice, "humor" comes out as "yumor." "Huge" is "yuge." And the star of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Music and Lyrics is "You Grant."

Personally, I don't see much difference between a "human" and a "yuman," but The Wife most certainly does, and she delights in every opportunity she gets to mock me about it. I try to take it in stride. And then I try to find something that she says in an odd way so I can mock her back.

But, the only thing I can find that she mispronounces is "sorry." It comes out as "soary," kind of like the way a Canadian would say it. (Hmm..., if I didn't know better, I might think she actually comes from Canada. Sure, she says she's from Utah, but I just might have to do some investigating.)

A while back, The Wife, who is a junior high teacher, got mocked by her students for pronouncing something correctly. She was saying the word "mountain" when her students asked her why she was putting that "t" in the middle of the word. It seems here in central Utah, most people pronounce the word as "mou (ryhmes with "ow")-uhnn." "Mou-uhnn." They couldn't understand why she was actually enunciating all the letters. A boy named Thomas pointed out that we don't pronounce all the letters in every word, because if we did his name would be pronounced "Thaw-mus." He had a point. (And a new nickname for the rest of the year.)

Now that I think about it, maybe I'm being too hard on my Mom. Everyone makes mistakes, and maybe I shouldn't harp on hers so much. Maybe I should let her shop at however many Walmarts she wants. Maybe I'll let her get McNuggets at any restaurant she chooses, even ones in Chicarrgo or Massatoosets. Maybe I'll just say I'm soary and let her be. After all, she's only yuman.

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