guest post by Chaurisse Anderson
Lynn here -- This is the second blog post written for us by a student in Laramie County Community College's Poetry and Creative Nonfiction class.
I think you're going to enjoy it--I sure did!
You would think writing would be easy and the words clearly understood. After all, it’s right there in black and white and I know what I’m trying to say, so others should understand too. But it’s not always that simple.
For example, when I went to the drive up window and ordered a burrito and a packet of salt, I spoke clearly and articulated well. That simple order should not have thrown the entire fast food restaurant into mayhem, but it did. After placing my order I waited at the window and waited and waited. I peeked through the window and it looked like no one was there, no one was in the restaurant at all. Finally a kid with a pudgy baby face came to the window. But, before he could give me my order he had to explain.
“We just had a quick meeting of our staff to see if we could give you what you requested,” he said.
My mind is racing…What on earth did I say that would require an entire restaurant to shut down and have an emergency meeting?
“So, if you really want some soap I guess we can give you some, just this one time.”
“What do you mean soap?” I asked.
“You ordered a burrito with soap and I guess we can give you some this one time, but not any more.”
I repeated my order for a burrito and a packet of salt, and asked him to throw in some hot sauce too. He stared at me like I was speaking a foreign language and handed me my bag. I drove off with one burrito, no salt, no hot sauce and no soap.
So, the written word would have been perfect in my dealings with the baby-faced drive up window man. For I could have typed up my order and he could have read it clearly and there would be no misunderstanding.
I sometimes wish I had a spell check and grammar check on my mouth. Then when I say something really stupid something there would be a beep and I could read what I just said and realize that perhaps I said the wrong word.
That would have come in handy the time my husband, a farmer, was working out in the quonset* and I was on the phone with one of my pesky sisters*. After chatting awhile I told her my husband was late coming in for dinner because he was out in the quonset. Since my sisters and I are essentially city girls (growing up in the metropolis of Dallas, Oregon) and we did not grow up on a farm I wanted to impress my sister with my vast farming vocabulary, like the word ‘quonset.’
I knew she would be impressed.
“What’s he doing in the quonset?” she asked.
Aha! Here was another chance to impress her with farming lingo. “He’s out taking care of his concubines*.”
Dead silence, then a snicker. “How many concubines does your husband have?”
“I don’t know,” I said. ”Three or four maybe?”
By this time my sister was laughing hysterically, which I did not understand why.
“No wonder your husband is late for supper! The word is combine not concubine!”
That would have been a really, really good time to have written words coming out of my mouth so I could preview them before I spoke because I know my spell checker and grammar checker or stupidity checker surely would have raised a red flag.
There are, however, other times that even having something in writing will not help because, well, sometimes people just don’t get it.
When I first moved to the farm from the city, my husband would give me instructions like “Go to high point, then the old Henderson place….over the bluff and past the buffalo waller*.”
Now, even if he had written all of these words down for me I still would have stared and blinked. “Excuse me, what is a high point? The high point of what? Who is Henderson? Is a bluff a hill or a ridge? What is a buffalo waller? I know what a buffalo is, ummm, but we don’t have any here.”
So sometimes the written word does not help if the person reading it is lacking in….well, just plain lacking.
Kind of like when I went to the fabric - craft store to buy some string*.
Now, I grew up with string, I recognized it, I used it, my grandmother always kept a ball of string for whatever.
So I went to the store and asked the petite childlike clerk to direct me to the string. ”The what?” she asked.
“String.” I repeated.
“I don’t even know what you’re saying!” she said. I started thinking back about the soap - salt incident but pushed it out of my mind. She went and got the store manager.
The store manager who looked barely old enough to drive said, “How may I help you?”
I spoke clearly and concisely. “I want a ball of string.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said. “Do you want thread?”
“No, I want string.”
“Do you want hemp twine?”
“No, I want string.”
She apparently determined I was drunk and said, “Look lady we don’t serve drinks here.” And with that she walked off.
So, I went to a bigger store.
I went up to a sales associate who was still wearing braces. “Could you please show me where the string is?”
“I don’t even know what that is.”
“Never mind.” I said. I went and found an employee with gray hair and said, “Could you show me where the string is?”
Without hesitating he said, “Sure thing, it’s right over here.”
So in that case even if I had written down my request it would not have helped because something was definitely lacking in the understanding department.
There are times when I would love to have someone’s thoughts in writing, just so I could see what they were really thinking. Such as the time I went to the high-priced underwear store at the mall (but I can’t say its name because it’s a Secret).
I marched in with a free underwear coupon and began digging through the bins of underwear like a cow at a feeding trough. There were others at this feeding trough and underwear was flying.
I picked up one pair of underwear and they looked huge. Surely they were mis-marked in the sizing division. I held them up in front of me when the size zero sales associate who looked about 12-years-old came up behind me.
She apparently saw me staring at the huge underwear and thought she knew what I was thinking. After she sized up the underwear and my back side she said, “Don’t worry, they’ll stretch.”
So, here I sit on my broad backside in a buffalo waller eating soap and playing with string and writing this blog. Perhaps my husband will come and rescue me, when he’s finished with his concubines.
*Quonset - A big metal building that concubines are kept in.
*Pesky Sister - If you don’t know what one is, I’ll give you mine. I have extras.
*Concubine- a mistress or an unmarried woman living with a man and his wife or wives.
*Buffalo Waller - Still no idea, I think it’s a hole in the ground.
*String - A string-like substance.
Chaurisse Anderson lives in Albin with her husband (and his concubines) and two dogs. She began writing four months ago in a Creative Writing class at LCCC. She finds joy in writing about farm life in Wyoming and especially about her experiences as a novice farmwife.
Chaurisse and her husband have raised four children and now have six grandchildren. She plans on continuing her writing and has a dream to someday work at a zoo.