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’?”


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.”


He turns and leaves.

Sheesh! Darned six-cylinder words.