Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Going Through a Rough Spell

I got some feedback almost right away over yesterday's entry, in which I showed a picture of some jingoist's jitney with one of those "this-is-America-speak-English" mottoes scrawled upon its window, and really, they only spelled one word ("Language") wrong ("Lanaguage"). I had to chuckle about another email I got on another topic, an email that suggested that I get someone "competant" to help me out with something. Now I have to wonder; can one be truly competent and still spell words in such a fashion?

I know this is one of my particular bugaboos...but what was the old line about first impressions? Just as I'd have second thoughts about a brain surgeon who was obviously intoxicated just before surgery, or about an airline pilot who confessed to a great fear of heights, and crowds within long tubular winged structures, or an auto mechanic who didn't know that the gizmo that holds the fraddistand behind the whatsis needs to be attached by a pfisteris, I just back away from someone hollering at me while using bad grammar or spelling. The point might be valid, but if the point gets lost in maladroit, obfuscatory verbiage, the point gets lost.

I'll leave you smiling with this one. I'm reading Katharine Graham's autobiography, "Personal History." Mrs Graham was the owner/publisher of the Washington POST for many years. Turns out she was born rich, her father, Eugene Meyer, having made a fortune in various enterprises. I found it amusing to read that she was raised in a 40-room house, which she considered "rather formal." Rather. Indeed. They had a staff of 12 just to maintain the gardens at their house! Not to mention the chauffeurs, maids, butlers, cooks, nannies and governesses. OK, I won't mention them.

When she went to college (Vassar) she had no idea how to wash her sweater, so she wore the same yellow cardigan every day for months. Finally giving up on figuring out how to wash the sweater ("My clothes had just appeared, cleaned, in my bureau drawers up until then") she just sent it out to the dry cleaner. Surely not the first Vassar woman to have that horrible dilemma, nor the last. But do the really really rich people think they are doing their children a good turn by raising them like veal, so sheltered and protected that they don't even know how to wash out a sweater in the sink, for crying out loud?

Fortunately, Mrs. Graham learned how to do things well, and when the time came to rinse out the dirty laundry from Watergate, she was ready and willing. More on that later.

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