Thursday, March 31, 2011

Malapropisms: Cosmic Relief For the Literate

For all the writers...I wrote this for the April newsletter of my writing group. Thought I'd share with you all!
Psst! If you don’t know what a malapropism is, there’s one in the title. Go ahead. Take a good look at it. *glances at watch* Times up.
A malapropism is the substitution of a word with another word that sounds similar creating a sentence or phrase that makes no sense and usually results in some comic effect.
Is there such a thing as cosmic relief? Only when I light candles, chart horoscopes and beseech Mercury to send me an answer fast.
The absurd tickles me, so when I read or hear a deliberate and clever malaprop written by an author, I smile and my day is made. Have you used malapropisms in your writing? Shakespeare did. The Bard understood their simple power, but if you haven’t used them, don’t despair. After all, ‘Comparisons are odorous’-Much Ado About Nothing (substituted for odious). Take a look and examine the malaprops below.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan wrote a play in 1775 with a character named Mrs. Malaprop who misspoke and she was a hit! She gave stern orders, such as, ‘promise to forget this fellow - to illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory.’
Tobias Smollett’s 1771 tome Humphrey Clinker contained this little charmer: ‘I know that hussy, Mary Jones, loves to be rumping (i.e. romping) with the men.’
Lest you think that all of the wonderful uses of malapropisms took place in the 17th and 18th centuries, fear not, dear readers. There are many modem examples.
Any cartoon fans out there? I loved Gary Larson’s Far Side and one of his comics is of a dog bragging to his canine compadre that he is ‘going to be tutored.’ I’m sure Fido got quite a surprise later that day.
Tony Soprano on The Sopranos was once ‘prostate with grief’ and his capo Christopher Moltisanti wanted to ‘create a little dysentery among the ranks.’ Maybe after eating Artie’s food at Vesuvio’s?
Archie Bunker was a font of malaprop goodness. How can you not chuckle at a man who noticed the lady ‘in her elastic stockings next to her very close veins’ and who told The Meathead to ‘buy one of them transvestite radios.’
Joey on Friends might have insulted the bovine crowd when he said, ‘It’s a moo point. Like a cow’s opinion, it doesn’t matter. It’s moo.’
By now I hope that I have established that ANY of the characters you create can utter a malapropism. We have gangsters, dogs and bigots represented here. Kids are great characters to use them! Anyone of any intelligence level can use them. They can take know-it-alls down a peg, add to a humorous character or make the dumb, dumber, a la Joey on Friends.
So, seize the day! Don’t flounder in a typhoid! Give malapropisms a chance. Just don‘t ponder for too long, as that can only give you a conclusion of the brain.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Medieval School of Embarrassment, of The Worst Date Ever

I admit to being at a loss as to what to share with you all today. I was reminded by my mother of this embarrassing evening. Moms are good for helping you recall things!
In 2000, on my 25th birthday, two close friends set me up on a date and decided to treat me to a night in Medieval Manor in Boston. I relished the thought of immersing myself in some fun times. I even had a costume made, so great was my enthusiasm. My date, I was told, decided to dress in a kilt for our night of medieval fun.
We set off in my friend's mini-van, loaded with high crowns and full skirts on the ladies and breeches and kilts on the men. My date was kind of cute and seemed fun. So far, so good.
We must have looked strange to the masses of people driving on Route 93 that Spring evening. We were the only ones dressed in period authentic costumes when we got to the restaurant/playhouse and were treated like celebrities. We were served some appetizers in this dungeon-type room and then escorted into the actual Great Hall.
The evening started great with lots of laughter and fun, drink tokens were loaded on the table and as I don't drink alcohol, piled high in front of my date. And the mead and wine and beer flowed excessively. And the food was consumed with gusto. And my date, dressed in his kilt, yelled "Huzzah!" loud and proud. He had a wild look in his eye and suddenly stopped being attractive to me. When we left, the William Wallace-Wannabe clutched my arm and staggered, his kilt blowing about in the breeze and his olive complexion turning a little bit more green. Oh boy.
We packed into the mini-van once more and set off South on Route 93. For some reason, the highway was packed that Friday night. My friend's boyfriend drove onward until my tipsy Scotsman called out feebly, "I'm going to be sick". The mini-van pulled over and as the Boston crazies zoomed by, the Kilted One and the garbed driver stood on the side of the road. I am sure ANYONE driving by that night looked on in wonder at that sight. Eddie, the driver, had on a large leather hat complete with curling plume, tight breeches, tall boots and lacy and frilly poet shirt with a leather vest. It was a scene straight from Monty Python. I slid down in my seat.
Sue, my friend, turned from the front seat to look at me. "This is not what we wanted to give you for your birthday."
Needless to say, I never saw the Kilted One again.
What's YOUR worst date story?