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Posts Tagged ‘wordplay’

A little thematic music, featuring a voice that transports me back to 1982 every time I hear it.

Was my grandpa bragging on himself?

He was always a modest sort. But, reading one particular calendar entry, I couldn’t help but thinking he was singing his own virtues.

What had he done, I wondered, to occasion such strutting?

Nov. 19, 1974. To quote Salt n' Pepa: "What a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty mighty good man."

I had no idea what either the calendar entry or the number connoted … until I read a little farther back into family history.

Then it became clear my grandpa was indulging in wordplay.

May 18-19, 1970

Ah, so that’s what he was talking about. “Whataman” = “Water man” = some sort of water-company meter checker, back in the days before computerization.

And the number must have been a meter reading or something. It’s all coming together now, Watson!

I really should have known the truth from the start, of course. Wordplay and puns are a treasured Blumenau family tradition.

And they show up in full plumage on several calendar entries — even if some of them, like “Whataman,” take a little time to figure out.

Exhibit Two:

August 29, 1965: "The Kidd fambly here."

I suspect the Blumenaus did not originate the misspelling of “family” as “fambly.” But they took to it so eagerly that I sometimes find myself consciously having to choose between the two — as I did when I typed “Blumenau family” a couple of paragraphs ago. It’s like an accepted alternate spelling to me now.

And then there’s …

Feb. 12, 1974: "WHB HACKUT."

The spellings “hackut” and, more frequently, “hakut” occur fairly regularly on 1970s calendars. Took me thirty seconds, when I first saw them, to decode them as “haircut.”

My grandpa must not have thought much of his barber.

Finally, we go back where we started — to the eventful month of November 1974 — for one last example of Drawing Boy working in his second-favorite medium.

Nov. 29-30, 1974: "Lawrence-gytus."

It’s a shame, when relatives descend on your home for holiday dinner, to get sidelined with the “lawrence-gytus.”

All those puns you can’t get out of your throat have to get written on your calendar. (It appears that “lamb, not am” is another bit of verbal legerdemain, unless I’m reading it wrong.)

It would probably be good form to end this entry with some example of crazy word-bending. Continuity, and heredity, and one-upmanship, and all that.

But I think I’ll leave the spotlight on my grandfather, where it should be. It is his playfulness, creativity and verbal free spirit that we celebrate with this blog post.

What a man.

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