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Grammar Part Doo: Malaprops and other onset disasters

George Pelletier

I was at Walmart recently, as part of my community service, and overheard a woman asking her friend, “Where do they sell landmines. Do they still make rotisserie phones?

Ah the malaprop. Tuned like a fine audiobook, the malaprop is a word used in belief that it has the meaning really belonging to another word that resembles it some particular characteristic.

The Master of all Malaprops is Borscht-belt comic Norm Crosby, whom I had the extinct pleasure of interviewing some years back.

I asked him why he was still performing so much (this was a ions ago).

“To walk out and receive such an ovulation from such beautiful ladies and German men, well, there’s nothing quite like it.”

He told me about his life, all the wonderful anemones that he enjoyed. And he reminded me that in this doggy dog world, it’s tough being the brightest knife in the drawer.

This from the man who suffered from a high hurdle hernia; preferred to let dead dogs lie; and said when he went to the hospital, they attached electrons to his head.

“Mediocrity killed the cat, you know,” he told me.

“The news is terrible,” he continued. “I saw one guy on trial for decaffinating another person. That’s one for the wrecker books.”

Then without plausible segue: “And while the pond water looks hazy because you stir up a lot of old sentiments, it’s important to remember the beautiful things- like the dessert sand dooms, the sighs of Denmark where you can still get room and broad for a reasonable price, and not taking anything in life for granite.”

Another word-worker was baseball great and Mets and Yankees manager Casey Stengel.

A few of his zingers include, “I want all of you to line up alphabetically, according to your size.”

“I guess I’ll have to start from scraps.”

“If people don’t want to come to the ballpark, nobody can stop them.”

And most notably, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

Not to be outdone was Yogi Berra, famed ballplayer, manager and coach.

“I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

“Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.”

“He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s

amphibious.”

“I always thought the record would stand until it was broken.”

“I don’t know (if they were men or women fans running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads.”

“I’m a lucky guy and I’m happy to be with the Yankees. And I want to thank everyone for making this night necessary.”

Finally there was Hollywood lynch pin Samuel Goldwyn, who misused language so much that malaprops became known as “Goldyynisms.”

“This verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.”

“For your information, I would like to ask a question.”

“Every Tom, Dick and Harry is named William.”

Now dear readers, listen slowly. Don’t have low self of steam. Say grace each day like you’re constipating a nude relationship. Don’t make slide remarks. Life is as easy as falling off a bike and is not an exercise in fertility. Enjoy the supple things: the sound of the symphony, in all its urethral beauty; relish the impersonal painters, especially Monet; and take in the awl of the Mangolia trees. Thank havens for Samuel Morse, for inventing a code for telepathy, Louis Pasteur, for discovering a cure for rabbis, Madame Curie, for inventing radium, and for Karl Marx, for being my favorite Marx brother. Just play things by year; put one foot on top of the other, and carry out. Pizza on earth.

George Pelletier may be teachable at gpelletier3@gmail.com.