Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Flourish and Flair

Today is my dad's birthday. And since he loved to laugh, I'm going to tell a funny story. Even better, I'm going to tell a story on myself which would only make him laugh harder...

Several years ago, my mom and dad decided to go on a gambling trip to Shreveport. And since it was my birthday, they offered to take me along with two of my friends, Heather and Courtney. I had never been gambling before, and I was beyond excited. You see, learning to gamble is like learning to walk in my family, and I was feeling about 27 years behind schedule. I spent days looking up hotels and casinos and studying the rules of games. (I'm a nerd; studying is what soothes my anxiety). 

As time grew nearer and my mother questioned more and more about where we'd like to stay, I threw up my hands one day in despair while sitting in the coaches' office. 

"I don't understand," I complained. "Everywhere I look I cannot find any hotels in Shreveport." 

"What do you mean? There are lots of hotels and casinos in Shreveport," replied Heather. 

"No. I type in 'hotels in Shreveport' and nothing comes up. The closest I can find is somewhere called Boss-ee-ay City." 

"I'm sorry. What?" 

And so, I said it again. "Boss-ee-ay City." Only I didn't just say it, I slowed it down and spoke really loudly as if I were speaking to someone mildly deaf or obviously foreign. 


Stifling laughter, Heather replied, "Do you mean Bossier City?" But she said it all slow and simple -- BOZYER -- as if she was speaking to a 2nd grader. An obviously foreign 2nd grader. 

Realizing my complete ineptitude and waste of four days of Google searches, I immediately hid my embarrassment with indignant outrage. Because the best defense is ALWAYS indignant outrage. And as both a perfectionist and an English teacher, I get especially embarrassed when I mess up words. 

So you can guess that I was at DEFCON 1 for outrage. 

"There's no Z in there! That's stupid."

"Why don't they just call it Shreveport? They should just call it Shreveport."

"I've never even been to Louisiana. How should I know what they call their dumb ol' towns?"

And, my personal favorite last grasp... etymology. 

"Well, Louisiana was founded by French people so I just assumed it was a very French pronunciation. Boss-ee-ay. Like it would end with a flourish. With some FLAIR." 

I have to hand it to Heather. Until that point she had held it together pretty well until that very moment. But listening to me rant about the flourish and flair of the French language (which I do not speak) sent her into convulsive fits of laughter that included tears and a near asthma attack. 

After a few moments/hours/days, I finally began to see the humor of the situation. And as I am always unable to resist the temptation of making someone laugh, I confided my language faux pas (and that one IS French with all kinds of flourish) to Courtney as we drove to Louisiana. As expected, I was rewarded with guffaws and snorts, but this time it was okay because I was laughing along.

***FLASH FORWARD*** to the elevator ride up to our rooms at our hotel, the Horseshoe Hotel and Casino. 

We have been friends for two decades now, and the strongest common thread in our friendship is the ability to hit each other with the perfect inside joke reference when the other least expects it. A humorous sucker punch if you will. A zing.

In fact, it's my favorite thing, and I consider myself a zinger ninja. So in the elevator, this is what happened. Courtney hit me with a mispronunciation allusion, my cheeks flamed red, and then we collapsed into laughter. Not being in on the joke, my mom immediately asked what it was we were going on about.

Against my better judgment, I let Court and Heather tell the story. My father just shook his head. My mother was incredulous. Even more, she was delighted. 

See, I come by my zinger stealth naturally. For the next two days, it was a nonstop barrage.

"Should we stay here at the Horsey-hoe (Horseshoe)? Or go on to the Isle of CaPRY (Capri)?"

"I heard they were winning big at Hair-RAWS (Harrah's)."

"I love LOUIS-EYE-ANNA. Let's tour it in our Chev-o-roll-lay coop-pay!"

They practically vomited fake French flourish and flair all over my bruised ego.

But every time they did it, there was my dad, chastising them to leave me alone. It wasn't funny. I learned my lesson. All my life, he'd been my protector -- my Daddy Dean -- and this was no different. Each time they pestered, he'd swat them away.

You're never too old to be a daddy's girl.

When we returned home to Fort Worth, my parents and I hauled in our luggage, and my dad took up his post on my couch with Pat Sajak babbling away on the television. Heather and Courtney had talked them into staying the night instead of going home so that they could match wits with my mother, a legendary Scrabble player. As we headed out the door to Heather's for dinner and Scrabble, I asked my dad one last time if he'd like to join us.

Eyes closed, just a hint of a smile at the corners of his mouth, and without missing a beat, he replied...

"No, I think I'll hang out here for a while. Watch some Wheel of For-too-NAY."

And as my mother cackled and my shoulders slumped, I remembered how good it feels to sit on a joke until just the right moment. And he hit me from the top rope... with flair.

Nope, you're never too old to be a daddy's girl. Or a well-deserved punchline.

Happy Birthday, Pops. Your girl misses you big.

1 comment:

  1. Love your delightful story.. I could see your Daddy sitting on the couch just as you described ready to pounce....And his sideways grin...Miss that man...