Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Very Good Allergy

I had an episode with my ear and a minor surgical procedure was necessary. Over the telephone, to a concerned relative, I sketched the scenario.
I remarked on the most difficult aspect, that the least sound from the medical instruments had been tremendously magnified- hardly surprising, given that the event took place inside my ear.
"So the doctor likely didn't hear any of what you heard," my relative mused with a little shudder.
"No, probably not," I agreed. "Just me."
"It's like that old saying," she continued, "if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?"
My relative, it has to be said, is a good deal better at offering soothing words than she is at delving unsolicited into tangled abstractions.
"It depends," I answered, unable to resist, "but you forgot to mention something important."
"What's that?"
"You didn't say whether anybody was in the forest at the time. That's a crucial part of the riddle."
"Oh," said my relative softly. I could tell, through a bandaged ear, that she was laughing and that there were tears dancing in her eyes.
"Still," she pressed, in an instant of enthusiasm she would soon come to regret, "it was a good allergy, wasn't it?"
More tears followed, but they stemmed from me this time.
"Yes. Yes it was," I said when I was able. "It was very good. You could even go so far as to say it was a good analogy."
If a well-meaning relative mangles and melts words without meaning to, where only one functioning ear is witness to the blunder- did it happen?


Morning's Minion said...

My husband had an uncle inclined to "hold forth" in a pompous manner, sometimes misusing sound-alike words. The best of such a situation is when it can be shared by two--a little wink or nod between the hearers as the speaker continues unaware.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Morning's Minion,
Oh, I agree. Sharing the joke is always better!

Pauline said...

My mother had a friend who constantly moaned about her very coarse veins and was disturbed (this was in the 60s) about all that disintegration down south. My mother was unfailingly polite in her presence but she and I would roll our eyes later in private amusement.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Pauline, I know the very kind you mean.
They (most of the time) mean well, but can be a handful.

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