Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Who's the Wise Guy Who Invented Homonyms?

My husband and I remember seventh grade differently (elementary school sweethearts, so I ought to know). Granted, it was tough for me, largely due to a teacher who ruled with an iron wart. It was torture for my husband. That same teacher’s knuckle-slapping ruler and total lack of either compassion or wit nearly drove him from the education process.

Luckily for my husband, she only taught English. The science teacher spent more time on jokes and sports stories than on periodic tables or the whole proton/neutron thing. So it all evened out.

Mrs. Not-Ever-Gonna-Qualify-for-Teacher-of-the-Year loved shoveling assignments. She didn’t dole them out or give them out. She backed her trunk to our hinged-lid desks and dumped them.

Five new vocabulary words every week. Penmanship exercises…with a particular kind of pen she forced us each to purchase from her. Spelling bees with trap doors and vats of boiling oil.

And homonyms. The teacher insisted we make and tend a book of homonyms. You know, words that sound alike but are spelled differently. Rain/reign. Plate/plait. Like that.

A new page in our book for each letter of the alphabet. She’d check weekly to see if we were adding newly discovered homonyms to our books. Extra credit meant we didn’t get boiled in oil.

Now, that’s all well and good. But one has to wonder why the English language had to double-up on words. Triple-up in some cases—two/to/too. And tu-tu!

With no further odd projects on which I can procrastinate today, I’ve been thinking about messing with homonyms…just for fun.

I could write a book about Cereal Killers—self-explanatory. It’s a Kelloggs vs. General Mills grudge match.

Or Window Pains—the story of one woman’s guilt over replacing her windows rather than having to break down and wash them.

I could compose a lovely magazine article about Needing Bread—not so much the act of preparing it as the craving to eat it.

Or write a children’s song titled “Under the See,” which explores what a child discovers when reading between the lines of Dick and Jane. You think “See Spot run” isn’t a cloaked reference to hidden treasure buried beneath the Washington Monument?

Self-help book for wishy-washy lumberjacks—Board Stiff.

A fashion magazine article for the American Psychiatric Association Journal—For Love of Straight Jackets. (Look it up. The one you’re thinking of is strait. No kidding).

Sure to be a best-seller: Best Cellar! If I write a series of related books, I could truthfully tell people I write Best Cellars! This could work.


eileen said...

Bare Bear roams woods-a psycho beartrapper on the loose
Skinning feet a feat- a podiatrist gone mad

I'm sure we could turn this into a Best Cellar list if we tried.

Sorry I was late reading this WON.