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Monday, December 11, 2006

Culture shock

My mother sent us a little gift; some playing cards for junior daughter and some handkerchieves for me. Junior daughter liked the cards but was intrigued by the hankies. She uses tissues [translation = Kleenex] although not often enough. She likes the little embroidered flowers on the corner. She’s seen handkerchieves in the Beatrix Potter books. The boys cluster round but quickly declare that they’re ‘boring,’ which is understandable since they are devoid of trains or Pokemons.

“Why is it called that?”
“Because a ‘kerchief’ is a cloth that you cover your head with but a handkerchief is a cloth that your hands can use instead.”
“You cover your hands with it?”
“No, not exactly” I didn’t explain that very well. I make a second attempt. “If it were a ‘neckerchief’ you’d wear it around your neck.” That doesn’t really help much.
“What do you do with it?” she asks.
“You blow your nose on it when you have a cold.”
“Eeoow! Gross!” [translation = a term used almost exclusively by young female Californian persons, who should know better, as they have a much wider vocabulary available to them to display displeasure in it’s many forms. I have never heard a boy use this expression in quite the same manner.]
“You can dry your tears too.”
“Oh.” Better. Perhaps I can recover some lost ground. “Then what do you do with it?”
“You tuck it in the cuff of your sleeve.”
“Eeoow! Gross!” [addendum to translation = must always be accompanied by ‘eeoow’ and appropriate body language of the squirming variety.]
“Or you can put it in your pocket if you prefer.”
“I know, I know” chimes in senior son, “Bin, trash, garbage, rubbish!”
“Actually no, you don’t throw it away, you wash it.”
“It is washed?”
“Why?” This is going to be harder than I thought.
“Because then, when it’s clean and dry, you can use it all over again.”
Nobody answers. They look at one another. I used to have a section of my underwear drawer full of crisp, white, ironed hankies. None of them have a similar drawer. I am at a loss for words [translation = stumped.] Junior daughter helps me out, by summarizing thusly;
“So,” she pauses to collect her thoughts, “you have a nice pretty handkerchief which you put snot on and then stuff it in your sleeve next to your skin?”
“But, but, but………I know!” says senior son. “It should be big and red like a…..like a……..like a blanket.”

“Wait, wait, wait……..I show you,” he plunders off without further explanation. He returns with the Tale of Benjamin Bunny which was also given to him by his maternal Grandmother. He turns to page 16 where there is a picture of Peter Rabbit wrapped in a red cotton pocket-handkerchief.
“That’s a much better idea,’ his sister comments.
“Me too,” adds the little one.

It seems we are agreed, the board of management have reached a consensus of opinion; we are now an exclusively Kleenex household.

Festive Greetings

Wishing you and yours the 'Compliments of the Season.' May your god, fairy, or talisman support you.

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