Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Saturday, June 21, 2008

If it Isn't Broken

“When a thought takes one's breath away, a grammar lesson seems an impertinence.”
-Thomas W. Higginson

My cousin visited us from Ireland at the end of last Summer. He enjoyed every bit of the two-week trip but was very much entertained by browsing the bookshelves at Barnes and Noble. It had been many years since I saw in myself that level of enthusiasm in exploring a new place, and I well recalled my own first visits to the enormous book vault.
Spouse and I happen to really like one that is in a large complex with a number of other stores. For some very simple reason my cousin insisted on referring repeatedly to the store as 'Burns and Noble.'
In the beginning it was quaint and I considered it a minor error. Besides, he was terribly excited about everything he saw and I thought it unfair to point out such a mistake. As the days went on however, and my cousin began to root it deeper into his mind that the name was 'Burns and Noble' I could take it no longer and sought, for his sake, to correct him.
I chose to do it on a balmy afternoon as we stood before Barnes and Noble and just as we were about to proceed next door to a clothing store called Marshall's.
"It's called Barnes and Noble," I said firmly. "Remember that. Especially if you should get lost."
I could hardly imagine that nobody would understand him if he called it that slightly wrong name but just to be cautious, I made sure to inform him of the exact title. He was paying scant attention, however, and his eye was on the next building.
Nothing is comparable to the thrill and charge of surveying a person who has travelled to a distant country for the very first time. When Spouse and I, Mater and my cousin were circumnavigating the malls, we made sure to tell the latter where and when we all ought to meet up, to avoid confusion and disaster. Even as we were explaining the precise details, he was already pulling away from the rest of us, eager to begin his reconnaissance of the shopping area and certainly not hearing one whit of anything we said.
Such is how it was that afternoon outside Barnes and Noble.
I said the name of the store again.
"Right," he said, vaguely. "I've got it now." His traveller's spirit was already perusing prices in Marshall's.
For my troubles, ever since then he has insisted on referring to the store as 'Barnes and Marshall's.' It has now become a hearty, embedded joke and I have come to understand that it is quite permanent.
Sometimes leaving well alone is the better thing to do.


hele said...

Heehee that is funny. However if you left it well alone a hearty, embedded joke would never have been born.

polona said...

i can almost feel your cousin's impatience in your words... a lovely tale with an amusing finale :)

San said...

Oh well, next time go to Boundaries. I mean Borders. Or is it Boundaries?


julochka said...

it's so funny how you have a window of opportunity in which to say something to someone. the polish guy working on our house calls my husband peter and since we didn't correct it right away, we can never change it to the correct jens-peter, so to rafy, he'll always be his father's name. :-)

Pappy said...

I can hear a strong Irish accent pronouncing it "Burns and Noble". Another pithy tale of language gone awry. You are very good at the short short story. I'm sure you could win some contest money if you entered some contests. You might enjoy "Byline Magazine" if you don't already. I have a hot link to their web site under Pappy's Favorites.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Hele, so true. I aim to bring out all the world's jokes ;)

Polona, yes he was quite rearing to be off exploring and I just had to slow him down... he was happily impatient.

San, I can't remember anymore ;)

Julie, that's precisely what I was getting at. Window of opportunity. I lost it, and then made the matter worse.

Texican, Wow. Thank you. I'll definitely be looking at that link. The toaster sometimes isn't enough to prompt me... this helps.

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