Sunday, December 5, 2004

I lazed in bed this morning, indulging in James Thurber's blessedly short autobiography (88 pages, baby), My Life and Hard Times. Its clear that the publishers were so paranoid about putting out such a tiny volume (easily misconstrued as a religious tract by the dense, book-buying public) that they felt the need to add an Introduction, a Preface to a Life, An Afterword, an About and an Essay (cryptically attributed to MJR). The book itself does an admirable job of explaining itself, so anything else is unnecessary. I read all except the Essay out of sheer inertia, the writers did a lame job of rehashing the "funny bits".

Now I am feeling contemplative. And inspired.

But my lofty thoughts on The Life and Hard Times of Camille were abruptly derailed by a sign on the H*ster's door.

It said "icallar la boca!" I deduced that it roughly translated as "shut the fuck up." I wasn't offended, becuase I realized quickly it wasn't addressed to me (I haven't said a word in 12 hours!). But the verb icallar really bothered me. My spanglish is pretty malo, but I at the very least have a lot of vague glimmers of recognition when I see spanish words. You, my polyglot reader, have probably figured it out already. Its not even nine in the am here, and my brain is still somewhere in Columbus Ohio, frollicking in the attic with Grandpa Thurber.

I did what any person in my state would do, I grabbed the nearest Verb Book (located handily on the top of the pile). No dice. I looked it up in the mighty VOX, nada tambien. I askedjeeves. The word did not exist. I was stymied at every turn. Then the light dawned, the "i" was no letter at all, it was a punto de admiracion!! Callarse means to be quiet. I knew that. Usually, in the imperitivo, its like "callete" (that is what I grew up hearing on the playground, that and "andale"). The h*ster's phrase is right there, in the verb book, under the heading "idiomatic phrases."


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