A wistful list-full





I know, I know; I can hear you clamoring: How dare you disappear for nigh on two plus years, and expect us just to fall back into place as if we’re not different people now with different needs?!?

Yes, and we’ll get to that, but first: A shopping list!

By now you all probably know that Zoog can be rather…oblique. What fun is it, he surely reasons, to say the same thing time after weary time? Why not express every need—no matter how basic— in riddles and rhymes? How marvelous to invert and amalgamate! Why not fold, spindle and mutilate the very rules and conventions that allow us to communicate at all? Sure, we may get hoist on a petard or two of our own making, but that’s what keeps things spicy, America!

Pass the salt? No way. But I will send a brackish morsel forthwith. Hold this for you while you use the bathroom? Not a chance, Doofus. But bestow the freight encumbering your evacuation strategy, and I’m your helpmeet.

The only trouble—aside from the time all the extra syllables take—is that Zoog also employs this method when it comes to written communication, adding two other confound-able elements: orthography and penmanship. While his handwriting would make a roomful of doctors scowl, Zoog is quite capable of spelling things “correctly” (he was seventh grade spelling bee champion of J.T.Moore Junior High, but got booted from regionals on account of L-I-B-E-L), he simply chooses NOT to.

*[Quick disruptive digression: I’ve become quite adept over the years at deciphering his hieroglyphs, but was rather..errr..titillated by an extra loop of ink caused by one of his leaky fountain pens, which made the cursive “k” in the sentence: “I should write to others whose booKs I’ve admired,” to look like a “b.”]

More fun for him to transcribe impediments, accents, spoonerisms and stutters into any simple missive, as if Elmer Fudd or the priest from Princess Bride were demanding he take dictation: “Fatht away to th’ gwocewee thtor and pwocuah thevwal atomth, thuch ath….”

You’ll forgive me, then, when he sent me to the supermarket last week and I returned with only a single onion and a wrinkled shopping list:


Once you say it out loud a few times and channel several distinctive speakers (mostly of the under-five crowd), the items may become clear— sort of like my dad’s favorite birthday card urging the celebrant to chant an ancient native birthday mantra: OHWAH TANOL DEF ART IYAM—but some codes just can’t be cracked.

And so we starve most of the time.

And that is how we’re sticking to our new year’s resolution to slim down.

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And HAPPY 2019!