Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why Yes! This Is The Sort Of Thing That Keeps Me Awake At Night.

Not so long ago, I wrote about my ongoing issues with ordering a gyro.  (Scroll down to item 5 on the link.)  The issue is this -- do I pronounce something correctly and only achieve blank stares from the guy behind the counter, or even worse, have him try to correct me, or do I go with the flow and say what he's expecting to hear so I can just get my damned lunch?  If you have any question which option is my default, you should be aware that I've been known to argue with people in paper hats about the size of a drink I want.

Me: I'd like a small coke with that, please.
Paper Hat Boy:  We don't have a small.  We have "medium" or "Large".
Me: Uh...no you don't.  "Medium" means midway between two other sizes.
PHB: (stares at the menu board behind him.) But we only have two sizes. We don't have one between them.
Me:  My point EXACTLY!
PHB: (Stares blankly at me.  Picks his nose nowhere near as surrreptitiously as he thinks.)
Me: Fine!  I'll have the fucking Medium.
PHB: (Smiles as the planets realign for him).  Would you like to super-size that?

It's not that I don't realize the futility of my quest, it's just that I hate voluntarily participating in fucking up the language. 

Look, I have no problem whatsoever with new-word coinage -- there's often a need for new words and even when there isn't, sometimes they're just fun.  I, for one, intend to use malamanteau in conversation at my earliest convenience - conversational comprehension be damned!  I also have no problem with regionalisms.  There's nothing wrong with the fact that the very same thing is referred to differently in different places. It may sound weird to me to ask for a bottle of pop in the Midwest, but I'm more likely to get what I actually want by using that word.  On the other hand, I'll continue saying Y'all instead of the vastly inferior, Youse guys.  (My father used to say that your level of ignorance is directly related to which side of the Mason-Dixon Line you're standing on.)

Anyway, what got me started on this again is a post I saw this morning on (the customer is) Not Always Right.  If you haven't visited, it makes for a really good alternative to just laughing at cats, even though, sometimes it seems like the guy who sent in his anecdote is actually the stupid one in the equation.  The post in question was this one.  The noted workplace here is "Restaurant" without any real illumination as to the supposed quality of the restaurant, but it's placement in Orlando and the fact that they have an item on their menu called Bruschetta Chicken Pasta (I can't even imagine what the fuck that is), may be a clue.  I'll be generous and assume it's at least an Italian themed restaurant.  And it's entirely beside the point that the customer and the server both come off sounding at least equally dense.

No, the point is that, moron though he may be, the customer has pronounced bruschetta correctly.  Bruschetta is Italian, and Italians pronounce "ch" as a hard "k".  Always. Like Chianti, and Machiavelli, and church! (O.K., that last one only works for Scottish.) And I'm not even going to get into the whole thing about why bruschetta and crostini aren't the same damned things and that a tub of chopped up tomatoes with garlic and other stuff, but no toast of any sort is not bruschetta either -- please look that stuff up and use the correct appellations and feel free to argue with servers even if they're just victims of their own menus.  It'll be a solidarity thing with us.

Is it wrong that it galls the living shit out of me that this server is 1.) so proud of pronouncing a word wrong that s/he feels the need to make fun of someone who is actually pronouncing it the right way, 2.) goes out of his/her way to tell the entire internet, and 3.) while obviously having access to the internet, didn't bother to look it up before crowing about it?

I'm going to force myself to get over it by ordering some bruschetta from Anima.  Not only do they have really good food, but as long as they can figure out what I'm ordering, they'd never be so crass as to embarrass me by correcting my pronunciation.

On a different subject, but also something that can keep me awake at night...you guys never had the honor of meeting Connie and Chung.  They were the cats I had before I was blogging, so they had to settle for just being normal pets instead of Internationally Known Sensations.  They did a fine job of it.  When Chung died, I buried her in the backyard and planted a tree over her grave. (I'm pretty sure it's illegal to bury a pet in your backyard in NYC, so, Shhhh!--Don't tell anybody!)  Anyway, not long after Chung's funeral, I was walking down a side street and saw a tree that has haunted me ever since.  The tree had been planted above a pile of rubble, and, for some reason, as the tree grew, the roots forced themselves a foot or more above-ground and they brought the rubble with them, horribly embedded and clearly visible right there in the tree-trunk!  The tree I planted over Chung's grave is fairly slow growing, but I still have this horrible vision of walking into the backyard some day and seeing Chung's skeleton rising up to taunt me.  (I'm sure she'll be artistically posed with fangs bared in a silent snarl and claws reaching out to savage me.)

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