Sunday, August 2, 2015

Drinkin’ Popi's Kool-Aid


The goblet, now empty save two or three droplets of red, ascended.

Dutifully I fetched and refilled.

Upon delivery, I opined, “Wow, ya really …”

By instinct, I paused in my patter at that point, which is typically when the interruption comes – or maybe it’s the choir joining in.

“… polished that off!”

But when the colloquialism of the moment has become trite even to the ears of a seven-year-old – like “Well, I’ll be … a monkey’s uncle!” – the interruption takes a different form.

“If you say … then I’ll never …”

Of course the potential consequence is sufficiently pernicious to compel compliance.
Well, at least “compliance” in the literal sense.

The Grandpa Handbook – quite similar to The Teacher Handbook, unsurprisingly – requires that feigned wrath always be encouraged and enjoyed.

[From a practical standpoint, an exaggerated imitation of such a performance has been known to forestall the brewing outburst of a cranky child.]

Polishing off in the sense of consuming vigorously, while not completely absent from our vernacular, lives a hermit’s existence these days. I tend to offer it in my Dad’s cadence, punctuating the first syllable as proper praise for a healthy appetite. (Dear Ol’ Dad would accomplish the same objective by conferring membership in the “Clean Plate Club,” though for some reason I tend to reserve that distinction for healthy canine appetites.)

So when little man began to bristle at that little bit of phrasing, the ball was in Popi’s court. My “play” was to pronounce the “o” in polish with a “long” vowel sound, rather than a short one – as in “pole” rather than “Paul” – thus providing an alternate avenue for the exasperated ingenuity of his ire.

His helpful hint towards my linguistic edification this time was “like nail polish.”

He and I have been engaging in similar word combat over consonant placement in the word “enemy” – or is it “emeny”? I believe this debate was borne of a “Do that one more time and I’ll be your enemy/emeny for life” ultimatum.

As our no-longer-so-little bundle (and handful) of joy set about inhaling this round of liquid refreshment, I cautioned his Russian and advised some Stalin.

The Cold War allusions naturally went over his head (for now), but the corn-ball element didn’t elude the now-shaking head of Grandma, lounging on the couch next to Hizzonor.