Oct122005

Darned Six-Cylinder Words

Shae, my 16-year-old daughter, had an unfortunate encounter with the side of the garage while backing out our 1990 Honda Accord. Ripped the bumper clean off. I had other mechanical issues with the car, so I took it down to the local repair shop.

“And while you’re looking at it,” I said, “Could you see if you guys can get the front bumper back on? It’s sittin’ in the back seat.”

“The bumper?” asked Jack, one of the nicest service writers you’ll ever meet. “You mean the bumper cover? It’s a big plastic piece.”

“Yeah,” I said. “That thing.”

The bumper is that big black ugly thing that the bumper cover attaches to.

As Jack busied himself at the computer, Cecilia and Brandon, the other service writers on duty, made small talk.

Jack typed in all the things we had discussed. He typed, asked a question, then typed some more.

Finally he asked, “How do you spell ‘fascia’?”

Fascia?

That stopped Cecilia and Brandon stone cold. “What?” They asked in unison. Cecilia looked at Jack like he had worms crawling out of his ears.

“I think it starts with an ‘F’,” I offered.

“What are you talking about?” Brandon asked.

“The bumper cover,” Jack replied. “It’s called a fascia.”

Now, Brandon looked at Jack like he had worms crawling out of his ears.

“Just say ‘bumper cover’,” Brandon said with no enthusiasm. The coffee hadn’t yet kicked in. “Those guys back there won’t know what you’re talking about if you say ‘fascia’.”

Jack nodded. “Bumper cover.”

Darned six-cylinder words.

***

This incident reminded me of another brush with an anomalous vocabulary that happened a few years back.

Daughter Ray, who’s now 20, was a freshman in high school. Her freshman year, she was a cheerleader. A big football game was coming up, and the girls were in the gym making signs. Signs like “Go ‘Stangs!” and “Yea, Team!”

Ray and her cheerleader friends busied themselves with painting signs and hanging them in the gym so the signs could be transported to the football field once they were dry.

In walks the coach. He eyes each of the signs, smiling and nodding. His eye catches one sign in particular, and he reads it out loud.

“Pul-ver-ize the Panthers.”

He pauses for a moment and then says, “Girls, you can’t use big words like that. This is football. Those guys out there on the field aren’t going to know what you’re talking about.”

Pul-ver-ize.

He turns and leaves.

Sheesh! Darned six-cylinder words.


Oct122005

A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away . . .

Just a little background: I am the IT Director for a “major market research company” in the Dallas area.  I’ve been working for the same company going on 28 years.  

A few years ago I was standing around, talking to a few of our software developers, reminiscing about Star Wars.

“Yeah,” said Brandon.  “Star Wars was great.  Anything that came before it was blown completely out of the water.  Nothing even came close.”

“Yeah,” said Greg.  “Say, what Star Wars toys did you have?”

“Everything,” replied Brandon.  “I had all the action figures, a couple of light sabers.  But the coolest were the Imperial Walkers.”

The others chimed in with oohs and ahs.  Yeah.  Imperial Walkers.

I was beset by a sudden wave of melancholy.  Don’t get me wrong.  This was all well and good.  I love Star Wars.  I love talking about Star Wars.  You will find no greater Star Wars fan than me anywhere in the galaxy.  But the conversation had taken an unexpected turn.

Star Wars toys.  Hmmm.

“Wait a minute,” I said.  “You guys had Star Wars toys when you were kids?”

“Yeah,” said Greg enthusiastically.  “Imperial Cruisers, Imperial Walkers.  Light sabers.  Action figures.  You name it.”  He raised an eyebrow.  “You mean you didn’t?”

I studied the coffee stain on the floor.  It somehow resembled Princess Leia’s hairdo.  

I realize that I suddenly felt a little out of place in this conversation, and I wondered if my hair was looking a little grayer than usual.  

Finally, I blurted out what was on my mind.

“I didn’t have Star Wars toys because I was working here when Star Wars came out.”

Eyes grew wide, and there were snickers all around.  “Sucks to be you,” someone said.

Yeah.  It sucks to be me.

“Don’t you guys have something to do?” I finally said and stormed off.

***

Memories of all this came flooding in the other day as my family and I watched When Star Wars Ruled the World, a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of Star Wars.  It aired on VH1.  

The documentary was talking about how many times people had seen Star Wars in the theater when it first came out.  

Some people had seen it scores of times.  In an interview with Kevin Smith, he talked about how he was relieved when Revenge of the Jedi finally came out because he knew he was never going to get laid if he was traipsing off to the movies all the time going to see Star Wars.  

“How many times did you see Star Wars, Dad?” asked Ray, my 20-year-old daughter.

“You mean in the theater?  Not counting on video?”

“Yeah.  In the theater.”

“I think I saw it seven times.”

Ray laughed.  I love it when Ray laughs.  She has this evil sounding cackle.

Seven?  You saw it seven times?”

“In the theater,” I said.  Of course I knew where she was going with this, but I thought it would be fun to play along.  “I know that kind of pales to 28 times that some of these guys saw it.”

My wife looks up from her magazine.  “I don’t think she’s laughing at you because you only saw it seven times.  She’s thinking that even seven was excessive.”  

Rachel is smirking.  Her finger and thumb go to her forehead in the shape of an “L”.

“Oh, wait a minute,” I continued.  “That only counts the times I saw it the first time around.  I saw it at least two more times in the theater with you guys when they re-released it a few years back.  That makes nine.”

Rachel covered her mouth and pointed at me.

Heavy sigh.  

I turned up the volume on the TV to drown out the snickering so I could hear more of the tale that told of an age a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, when Star Wars did rule the world, and I secretly sat in the theater rapt in wonder, hoping someone would show up and give me my father’s light saber and whisk me off to save the galaxy.