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My prospective publisher will be glad to know that I have started five new Che stories in the last six weeks, and have finished four of them, so this project continues to lumber toward completion. Here’s a teaser from one of the stories:
I hadn’t seen him in more than ten years, and I would have given much to have been spared an encounter now. He had been hard of hearing as far back as I could remember, yet his natural garrulousness always led him to horn into every family conversation. This tendency of his made our chats twice as long as they needed to be because he was forever shouting “What? What?” and so we wound up repeating ourselves endlessly. We had even devised a nickname for him based on his constant flow of interrogatives (one which, oddly, he had eagerly embraced). My heart sank as I faced the inescapable reality: the deaf old man approaching me with arms extended was none other than my uncle, Qué Guevara.
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No doubt these were interesting, useful expressions when they were first coined, but through overexposure they now clang on my eardrums whenever I hear them: “not a happy camper” (makes me want to disembowel the speaker with a tent-peg); “sounds like a plan” (sounds like a tiresome cliché to me); “paradigm shifter” (is that on the floor or on the column, and can I get it factory-installed?); “granularity” (much used by various people in my agency, and intended to convey the notion of a greater-than-average amount of detail; reminds me of sandpaper, and I can easily visualize myself applying it to the speaker’s lips with an electric sander).
Malapropisms, on the other hand, are a different matter altogether, and I can listen to them all day long. For example, my boss continues to use the word “crackpot” when he means to say “crack” (i.e., expert or possessing superior excellence, as in “crack troops”). There is, frankly, nothing that gives me greater pleasure than to be introduced as a member of his “crackpot” staff: the nervous laughter that dies away quickly as people realize he wasn’t making a joke, the suppression of renewed laughter when they suddenly understand that he has used not only the wrong word, but one with a ludicrously inappropriate connotation; the intense investigation I make of my shoes in order to avoid making eye contact and experiencing my own spasm of uncontrollable laughter. Really spices up an otherwise dull day (and no, he doesn’t actually mean “crackpot” in its correct sense, although I would find that equally amusing - and, depending on the context, quite possibly more accurate). And lest you think, “Ah, Paco, how cruel! Why don’t you enlighten him?” I should point out that I did try to correct him once, but it didn’t take, so he’s now on his own.