It is clear to everyone that language confers meaning, one doesn’t have to be a fan of Post Structuralism to appreciate nuance and subtle and the hidden layers of meaning that come to light after deconstructing a popular speech or text. But I am going to show you how language creates reality as only I can do.
My father has a tough accent which given years of practice I can imitate amazingly well. One word I crack up hearing every time he says it is pajamas. When he pronounces it sounds like West African village, what terrible is that my pops is Haitian, not West African. Anyways for someone growing up in the tropics, before wide spread use of air condition pajamas are a foreign concept, one simply sleeps in one’s underwear or if someone is eccentric or drunk nothing, suffice it to say I’ve never had a pair of pajamas, and being eccentric, well you know.
For a while we lived in a basement apartment that opened into a drug infested alley. The bad thing was that directly the boiler was there, and it radiated off so much heat, which was great in the Winter time, but during the hot humid NYC Summer heatwaves it was torture. We had no air condition.
I was working and going to school at the time and one night I was dead tired and decided I had earned the right to drink some rum, which in hindsight wasn’t a good idea. I had the genius idea of disrobing completely and sleeping on the floor, because MrMary cannot fall asleep when it that hot and humid esp after some rum. Scientifically this made sense, larger surface area of skin exposed to the air, hot air rises, cold air sinks etc.
I woke up a few hours later, a bit groggy having to use the bathroom, and so I just got up and went and interrupted my parents chatting and coffee drinking in the next room. it takes me a long time to wake up, and I wasn’t fully aware of myself. See there is this thing that happens in the morning as a ramification of the bladder being full in males.
MrMary: oh hey Moms Hey pops
Mom: uh..what the hell ?
Pops: GO PUT SOME CLOTHES ON RIGHT NOW!!!
MrMary: I really have to pee!!!
Pops: THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE,
Mrmary: yeah why did they design the apartment the bathroom so far away…<bathroom door opens and closes>
It was not until I was calculating angles did I realize, why the hoopla. My father artfully hung some clothes on the door knob and I got dressed and had to wait a few minutes for everything to return to normal. I don’t have a sense of shame or embarrassment around family and people close to me. Its present a lot when there is someone I like and am trying to impress like my secretcrush (Check out her latest post) . Otherwise it is non-existant.
Out of respect I apologized to my parents. I said that I was method acting for a play I am going to be in, I was playing a rhinoceros in Ionescu classical theatre of the absurb play Rhinoceros. I told them that I play a rhinoceros. No one was amused it seemed. I explained how cool method acting was and how one has to immerse oneself into the character.
Pops: You have no respect,
MrMary: it could be worse…..At least I am not going method to play the part of a homosexual named Pierre it would hurt sitting down
Pops: CMON “MrMary’sRealName” ……. What about your sister?
MrMary: She isn’t in the play, I wouldn’t let her read french literature, esp plays. Moliere was a douche
Mom: What is wrong with you MrMary’sRealName ? You know when you live with people you wear pajamas or you cover yourself
MrMary: Funny word, I like how u say it. I was just hot Survival of the fittest, you know heat-stroke kills people?!!?!
The Take away Message
If you cannot pronounce a word properly to your children, and do not compensate by clear leadership by example you should expect miscommunication esp in the realm of clothing oneself and what is considered decency. I shudder to think, if my parents made the same mistake in pronouncing toilet paper, I would have to go the third world route and jump in the shower or find running water every time I had to sit on the throne.