My son and husband were playing around in the kitchen when I heard the younger asked the older how he would like a knuckle sandwich. My husband told him, “I would like it as much as you would like a black eye.”
There was a pause. Finally, the boy responded, “What’s wrong with black guys?”
The confusion and laughter for the next ten minutes sounded like a fight for the winning point in a drunken game of Mad Gab.
As a kid, I was always cloudy on details and easily distracted, so these kind of misunderstandings happened to me often. In third grade, once, while I amused myself with daydreams and shading my finger nails with pencil lead, the rest of the class was learning grammar vocabulary and how to to diagram sentences.
I remember that a specific phrase was repeated often and sometimes broken up into pieces. My subconcious collected the words, “Person, plays, thing,” but how they applied to anything as an entire idea, I didn’t know. I didn’t care. My nails looked great.
When it was time for the daily grilling at the dinner table about what I had learned, simply shrugging at the question wasn’t enough. Surely, I learned something at school? Surely, tax dollars weren’t being wasted, for cripes’ sake?
My brain searched for an answer. Levelling with the folks that I didn’t pay attention was obviously a bad idea. As panic began to grip my tummy, I magically, miraculously, remembered something I didn’t even know I knew.
“I learned what a noun is,” I said, and then stuffed a fork full of food into my face.
“Hey, good! So what is a noun?”
I chewed for a while and tried to think of how the oft-repeated words had to come together in a way that made sense. To my mind, there was only one way they fell into place.
I swallowed and reported, “A person who plays with their thing.”
Ever an innocent, it was a year-and-a-half before the the thought of that conversation made me blush.