There used to be a sign on the studio wall when I was a dee-jay at Capital Gold in the nineties that said, “Engage brain before speaking”. I remember wit ell. I’m sorry. I meant to say, I remember it well. You see, just lately yours truly has been prone to uttering spoonerisms in everyday conversation. I suppose it must be my stage of life, or maybe the result of too much Googling. But in the recent past I’ve been tripping over my own tongue on a regular basis. It reached a peak at the end of last week, during a five-day break that Miss Ann and myself undertook in the delightful metropolis of West Palm Beach, Florida.
Having flown down from Newark without any problems, we set off to pick up a rental car. And it was then that the verbal vacillations began. Just as I was about to proffer my driver’s license, a voice from behind the counter asked which vehicle we would like. I replied with a true sense of assuredness – “We’ll take the Wreep Jangler thank you”. “Pardon?” said the befuddled assistant. “Oh, please forgive me. I was referring to your Jeep Wrangler”. And so it went on. On our way to the cottage, we stopped off at a CVS Store where I asked for a paper because we liked to do the New York Crimes Tossword. It was already becoming farcical.
The weather was mighty hot, so the very next day our first port of call was a return trip to CVS for some bug spray. The girl behind the counter was highly amused when I inadvertently said I needed the stuff because I’d been bitten by a crawpy creeley. Amidst a combination of giggles and embarrassment, we set off for Palm Beach Island where we booked a tour of the famous Flagler Museum. Henry Flagler was an extremely wealthy 19th Century industrialist, and he was responsible for developing the entire Floridian railroad system. His opulent home housed some of the finest treasures of the era, including paintings, furniture and even a restored, personalized railroad car. So it was all very gilded and gargantuan.
Within those hallowed portals we managed to enjoy an amusing moment that was sans spoonerism. On display in a glass cabinet was a hand-painted tea service that had been presented to the great man’s personal assistant, Warren Smith, on the occasion of his wedding. The chuckle factor was that Warren Smith also happens to be the name of a legendary Sun rockabilly artist. The English vocabulary is constantly being realigned in the States, with words and sayings undergoing a slanguage makeover. But, to be totally honest, the guilt was firmly on these shoulders concerning one particular phrase during our visit. Over dinner one evening, I found myself commenting on some Southern issue or other that I felt I’d always be ‘possumistic’ about. Silly me.
Tongue-tripping that this might sound, it couldn’t top a literary realignment I read about on the plane back to New York. This concerned a bullish Senator who was quoted as saying he would not have the ‘testicular fortitude’ to spin the quarterly statistics the way in which his political rival did. That’s ‘the balls’ to you and I dear blogger. So ended our all-too-brief sojourn in West Palm Beach, a visit that spawned one further lapsus linguae before the shutters came down. Whilst awaiting our train connection at Newark, I managed to order a linny skatte and a lemon turd cart without anyone blinking an eye.
I have my first appointment with the psychiatrist next week.