My husband and I went out for dinner the other night. At the end of the meal, when the waitress came to pick up his empty plate, I knew what was coming next and the scenario that would next play out. I knew what was about to transpire because I had been witness to it many, many times.
The waitress asks, “How was your meal?”
And unfailingly my husband replies, “Not very good – as you can see by my plate.” Then he quickly goes on to explain that he was only joking and the meal was just fine. At one time I would have been annoyed by this little scene, but lately I just shake my head and chuckle.
Maybe his attempts at humour are an inherited trait. My late father-in-law had his own little joke that he told and retold. Our children would secretly smile and maybe even roll their eyes when their Gedo couldn’t see, but they were always polite enough to laugh at his groaner of a joke.
Whenever I served pie for dessert, Gedo would say, “Cut that pie into six pieces because I can’t eat eight.” I waited for that witty line of his every time I asked what type of pie he wanted. (I usually prepared two choices. Oh, by the way, his second famous line when asked that question was, “Both.”) Now, it’s been over ten years since Ken’s dad passed away. Yet every time I serve pie, I picture him sitting at the table, waiting like an eager child for my question. And I still chuckle over his sheer enjoyment when he delivered that line.
When I was growing up, our next door neighbour in town had some strange pronunciations of common words. Nellie always carefully said “Al-a-berta” instead of “Alberta”, and called pancakes, “panny cakes.” She had many more such bloopers, but, for some reason, these two stuck with me. There was nothing difficult about these words, so I wondered why someone didn’t correct her. I now realize how endearing those misuses were. Many years later, I sometimes purposely employ her mispronounced words in fond recollection of a sweet lady.
As a writer, I am always looking for new ways to say old ideas. After all, that’s the essence of good writing. But I am bothered by the idea that down the road, long after I am gone, no one will remember me by some often told joke or some catch-phrase of my own. It would be nice if my grandchildren could fondly muse, “Grandma always said…”
A good friend of ours has his own expression. “That dog won’t hunt anymore,” he offers on a regular basis. It’s a great phrase. I love it! I would love to use it, but it’s his. He owns it and it has become part of his persona.
That is exactly the kind of aphorism I desire. So I’m on the hunt to find my own clever, colourful one-liner that folks will be sure to remember. I’m going to have to think about it…
Until then, “See you later, alligator.”