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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Straws and Camels

In San Jose, an urban area, our contact with camels is a pretty rare occurrence, unless you are of a zoo frame of mind. Our exposure to straw is also limited. We generally only experience quantities of straw during October. This phenomenon is closely associated with the festive season of Halloween and Thanksgiving.[translation = Autumn] More often than not the straw is bundled into rectangles, baled. The only other time that we are deluged with straw, is during the non-secular period of Spring break, [translation = Easter] where bunnies, eggs and nests are the main attractions. The eggs evoke straw production of an artificial nature. It comes in a variety of colours and configurations. Other than that, we are pretty much straw free, which is just as well for those delicate creatures who have an aversion to prickly things. [translation = tactile defensiveness]

Two of my children are of a literal frame of mind. They have trouble with idioms, amongst other things. Hence, the phrase ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back,’ causes no end of trouble for us parents. The problem arises at random times of the year, quite often when we are in a non-straw season. It’s odd how often you hear it. It’s frequency of use was not on my radar screen. Now it is. I could probably do with a little advice from one of those literary types with a big brain, such as "Kristina." There's bound to be a Greek god that could make some kind of memory impact.

Every time that those words are uttered, we have to launch into a lengthy explanation, usually the same explanation. The word ‘straw,’ for my two is linked immediately to ‘drinking straws’ rather than the farm variety. It’s only one idiom of many that they have difficulty with.

I am in the midst of recovery from the latest explanation, when spouse arrives home unexpectedly for a supper designed for 2 and a fifth small people. I tinker and stretch the menu whilst we chat.

“How about we watch one of those thingies tonight since you’re back?”
“What thingies?”
“Er, you know! Oh, a CD.”
“Isn’t that what I just said?”
“Which one?”
“Oh the funny one.”
“Which funny one?”
“You know, the period one.”
“Oh don’t be so obtuse! You know, the period drama, set in the thirties.”
“The English one.”
“Which English one?”
“Oh, what is it called again, the one with 'what’s his face' in it.”
“Oh……that man, the one you like, the comedian.”
“Jack Dee?”
“No! Rhymes with ‘pie.’”
“Er, Bill Nye the science guy?”
“He’s American you clot, and anyway he’s not funny.”
“Well actually……”
“Oh do come on! The one you bought me for Valentines Day.”
“Oh, Jeeves and Wooster! Why didn’t you say that in the first place?”


Camera Obscura said...

I just YouTubed Fry and Laurie, after explaining to Daughter that "House" and the psychiatrist on Bones were once the funniest comedy duo in Britain. She had no problem believing it of Hugh b/c she's grown up with stuff like the live-action version of 101 Dalmations, but she'd never seen anything of Steven's before. She sat with me and watched part of the first episode and laughed until I thought she'd fall off the chair.

Luckily for us, #2-Son's vocabulary acknowledges completely different definitions for the same word and an acceptance of idioms to a large degree. One of his favorite "games" is to deliberately misunderstand a word (hard instead of yard, ferinstance) and then laugh uproariously over what he wishes you'd said.

kristina said...

Sometimes words fail, or confuse, us all....... No straw here either, or camels.

The Jedi Family of Blogs said...

We have the same Jeeves & Wooster set :) Purchased while I was pregnant, to while away the late-term discomfort... it's now one of Brendan's most prized & watched set of videos (after Pokemon, of course). He loves the slapstick & how Jeeves keeps his "stiff upper lip" through it all.

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