Column by Kay Frances
Unless we are King or Queen of our own island, we are forced to co-exist with other people. And they are EVERYWHERE. Look around. The planet is literally crawling with them. They are in the stores, at our jobs, on the streets and highways, on our television sets, in our homes. In our BEDS. And they can be annoying.
Take a moment to think of the many times and the varying ways people have gotten on your nerves lately. It’s not (necessarily) that they intend to. There’s no poem, “How can I annoy thee? Let me count the ways.” Come to think of it, there ought to be.
Irritating? Yes. But people can also be hilarious, especially when they aren’t trying to be. This can often be in the form of a “malapropism.”
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “malapropism” as “the usually unintentionally humorous misuse or distortion of a word or phrase especially: the use of a word sounding somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context.”
(NOTE: I’m aware that people who cite dictionary definitions in articles are widely viewed as annoying, yet here I am, throwing stones from my grass house.)
Some people collect baseball cards, some collect salt and pepper shakers. I collect malapropisms. I have a relative who is the Queen of the Malapropism. She remains blissfully unaware of this since I don’t correct her. I want her to continue to supply me with an endless supply of unintentional humor. Here are a few of the better ones that she has unconsciously given me over the years.
One time I was beating her in Scrabble and she lamented that she was “up a pole without a paddle.” I almost spit soda out of my nose over that one.
“Kay, that woman is just not the sharpest tool in the sky.”
“I just love springtime when the Mongolia trees are blooming.”
But she is not the only one who does these hilarious unintentional slip-ups. We all do them, myself included. One time I ran into a lady who was telling me that her niece had graduated from college. She was really proud of her, as she should be. She said, “she’s really smart, too. She graduated Magnum P.I.” I didn’t want to be rude and correct the lady, “Ma’am everybody knows it’s Magna Carta.”
I ran into a man I’ve known for years and he told me about his grandson who is a gifted athlete. He said, “he takes after me. I think it’s generics.”
So, as we go about our day, interacting with all manner of people, we can choose to focus on their many, many annoyances or we can decide to find the humor instead. I vote for finding the humor. Because people aren’t going to change, even if we want them to. Leopards don’t change their stripes. And, you are probably too busy to worry about what other people are saying and doing anyway. You’ve got enough eggs in the fire.