What is old?

How much time must elapse before something becomes old?

Is it all relative to how long we’ve been on this Earth?

“Here’s an old photo of me,” said a kid of 14. The photo was about 18 months old.

Should he have said, “Here’s a recent photo of me?”


Give it a what?

“I wonder if the new menu’s better than the last one?” my friend said.

“You’ve got to give it a whirl, at least,” I said

And that’s when it struck me. We say it so often when talking about trying new things, but what does it really mean?

I can only think that the expression might come from either dancing or fairground rides.

What’re your thoughts?

I was at work trying to describe to a fellow writer that someone was well-off.

They were, as I said, “Uh-FLU-uhnt.”

She laughed at me.

Once she composed herself, she said, “I’m sorry, don’t you mean “AFF-loo-uhnt?”

She told me that I was referring to “effluent,” as in sewage.

By my ear, that’s “EF-loo-uhnt.”

I can appreciate the miniscule difference – but even in that narrow gap, it sounds clear enough to me.

I took an extra year in Spanish in high school because I loved my teacher.

He was a former Army guy, ascerbic but witty, coach of the junior varsity boys’ basketball team and to correct my behavior would have me stand in a corner and contemplate the “transcendental dot of meditation” (though still requiring me to read my vocabulary assignment aloud like the rest of the class).

He also kept a container on his desk labeled “Potted Possum.” He loved perpetuating the naive belief among students that it was real.

In the end, I have to thank him, because he taught me valuable life lessons about how to deal with difficult people (meaning me) and helped test me out of foreign language in college (though I can’t say the same about having take remedial math).

In any case, I find today, almost two decades later, that his legacy continues.

I wish I could say that it meant I could speak fluent Spanish. I can’t, though I can generally make out basic written communication.

What I’m certainly left with is the ability to pronounce Spanish words.

When I read the name “Roberto” out loud, I say, “Roe-BARE-tow,” instead of “Ruh-bur-tow.”

I’m sure Roberto appreciates that.

But ancillary legacy is pronouncing English words – or in many cases, Americanized proper names for companies — as if they were Spanish words.

I just can’t help it in my mind when I read the sponsor name – an insurance company – given to the Seattle Mariners’ professional baseball stadium.

“Safeco Field.”

It’s “SAFE-coe.” And that’s the way I say it out loud.

But I doubt there will ever come a time when I don’t hear it in my head as “Sah-FAY-coe.”

Thanks, Coach McIntyre!

Can I Ask?

“Can I ask you to take off your baseball cap please?”

You can.


“Well go on then, take it off.”

You asked if you could ask me to to take off my baseball cap and I said yes, so go ahead and ask. Then I’ll take it off.

Expletive Deleted

It doesn’t seem that long ago that newspapers used to replace profanity with the words “expletive deleted.”

Didn’t “expletive deletive” leave a lot more to the imagination than “f***ing?”

And what’s with those asterisks?  How f***ing pointless are they?  Most kids in the playground have heard that word now, thanks to DVDs and the internet.

It’s time we went back to the old (expletive deleted) way … ?


The sign in the Southeastern part of the United States of America department store.

It’s the way we say it.

I can’t imagine it’s intentional — but it would be pretty cool if it were.