Crosby would say things like this: "When my dad was explaining the facts of life to me, he drew me a big diaphragm." You get the idea.
We were sitting at one of my family's favorite barbecue restaurants one day years ago when my stepdaughter asked, "What's up with that pulp guy?"
"Who?" her dad and I asked.
"You know," she said, "the pulp."
The pulp? We had to really think about that for a few minutes before we figured out that she was talking about the pope, who'd been in the news for something or other.
When I was writing my first novel, "Getting Her Money's Worth," I thought about "the pulp" and similar stuff my stepdaughter said and decided that Roy Dean's pre-teen daughter, Carrie, needed to entertain readers with a malaprop or two. Here's one scene based on a conversation I remember, but with some extra embellishment by Carrie's older brother, Dillon:
“I’m so hungry I could eat the ass out of a rag doll,” Dillon announced as they pulled into the parking lot of Roy’s favorite barbecue place, famous for its pork plate special, dubbed “The Squeal Deal.”
“Dillon!” Carrie admonished. “Dad, Dillon said ass.”
“I heard him,” Roy said, “and I heard you, too. Both of you knock it off.”
Shelby looked in the back seat at Allie and both women tried not to laugh.
After they trooped inside and got settled at a table, Carrie picked up a menu insert promoting new side dishes, screwed up her face and said, “That’s disgusting!”
When everyone looked at her quizzically, she elaborated. “Why would anyone want to eat fried orca?”
“People don’t eat Shamu, you mo-ron,” Dillon said.
Roy elbowed his son in the side and looked at his daughter. “I think you mean okra,” he told her.
“I don’t know why anybody would eat that, either,” she said.
Earlier in that same chapter, Carrie and her family are in a boat on Crystal River, where her stepmother, Shelby, is doing an open-water dive for her scuba certification. Carrie refuses to take a swim because she's afraid of encountering a certain aquatic mammal whose name she not only gets wrong but also comically mispronounces:
Dillon brought his mask and fins and was eager to slip into the water with his father and stepmother, but Allie was firmly rooted to her seat, as was Carrie.
“I’m not going in there with them platterpusses,” the girl announced with a shudder.
“With what?” Allie asked.
“Platterpusses,” Carrie repeated. “You know, those big, gray things that swim really slow and get hit by boats.”
“Those aren’t platypuses, you mo-ron,” Dillon said. “Those are manatees. And they won’t hurt you.”
“That’s why they call them ‘gentle giants,’ ” Shelby assured. “They’re vegetarians.”
“I don’t care. I’m not getting in the water with them,” Carrie insisted.
“Good,” Dillon said. “You can sit here and keep an eye out for the Moby Dick of manatees and try to keep it from sinking the boat.”
Her eyes widened and Carrie wailed, “Daaaad!”
I had an older brother like that who delighted in antagonizing me. It took me too many years to count to realize that the more I reacted, the more he teased me. I'm sure we drove our parents crazy with our bickering. It wasn't funny then, but it's the kind of real-life stuff that we can all laugh about years later.
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