Friday, April 23, 2010

Defining a Noun

Late at night, long after lights out, hours after we were supposed to be asleep, we'd crawl to the center of the tent and huddle together while someone, usually Sarah, called out "adjective", or "bodily fluid", or "verb". Thinking we had really slipped another one by Mrs. Luck or Mrs. Covington or whoever else was fool enough take thirty 12 year old girls on a weekend camping trip, we would stay up for hours yelling out "booby" and "snot" and certainly words far too unsuitable to rethink here. Of course the most raucous laughter was reserved, not wasted on the words alone, but saved for the retelling of the story we had just composed, a literary feast of adverbs, nouns, and yes, bodily fluids.

Having learned nothing in my previous 43 years with regard to children and their wild delight in shouting out body parts referred to by my grandmother as the unmentionables, I bought a pad of Mad Libs for the thirty hour car trip to Florida. "Noun, who remembers what a noun is?". "BOOGER! A booger is a noun!". Technically yes, that is correct, a booger is a noun. "Adjective, an adjective is a word that describes a noun". Screaming, hysterical screaming, ear drum piercing shrieks, "SLIMY!! A slimy booger!". Wanting to be the parent but completely unable to behave in any sort of parent way, much to the complete disgust of my generally parent'like husband, I roared right along, and then, once composed, waited for calm before asking that we try to use other words, suggesting perhaps that they look outside their windows for inspiration. We tried that but really, tall tree is in no way as funny as slimy booger, it's simply snot.

A week after we returned, the nice young doorman who greets us at the place where I do try and act somewhat civil and mature asked the girls how their car trip went. Of course Kate, not at all soft spoken, took this one, "Well it was great, and Mom got these stories for us to do, these are great stories. You pick all kinds of things and then she puts them in the story and it is hysterical. And you know what Mary and I did? Are you ready? Every time Mom asked for a body part, we said things like BUM and VERGEENYA!". Edwin, who had no idea what stories she was talking about, completely understood the body parts, as did the entire lobby, including a woman who looked quite like my grandmother. She smiled knowingly at the mention of the unmentionables.

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