Flash Fiction #239

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS

He tried to raise his head from the floor, but someone had turned the gravity up.  He’d just lie here and ask Whatzizname, the jock, for assistance.  Whatzizname??!  What was his name?  This was silly.  He just got a bank statement….  Happy birthday to you.  Happy birthday to you.  Happy birthday dear…. Jerry.  Yeah, that was it – Jerry.

He vaguely recalled a frat-party that included beer-pong and tequila shooters.  He also remembered some nice man…. Dad – telling him to concentrate on his university studies, and not attend such bashes.  Right, Dad – when the bleeding in his eyes cleared up.

***

Join the fun.  Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

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I credit 1950s/60s comedian, Shelly Berman with the inspiration for this cautionary tale.  Click here if you’d like to hear some classic comedy about The Morning After The Night Before.

WOW #65

Alright all you COVID couch potatoes, what is the absolute minimum amount that you may move?
Honey??!  Make me a tuna sandwich wouldya, and change the channel to bowling when you bring it in.

According to a slimmed-down, rear-facing Scotsman, it’s a

THERBLIG

(in time and motion study) any of the basic elements involved in completing a given manual operation or task that can be subjected to analysis.
ORIGIN OF THERBLIG

1930–35, Americanism; anagram of F. B. Gilbreth (1868–1924), American engineer

Along with much of the English language, Mr. Gilbreth’s name has been on a diet, and getting leaner and cleaner over hundreds of years.  Other engineers could honor him by (almost) tuning his name around backwards, to get the term ”therblig,” but the more common spelling is Galbraith. https://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Galbraith   It’s a good thing that most Scots were illiterate when they dreamed this name up.  It would take most of an afternoon, writing it all out.

What is the minimum of motion that I’ve achieved this week??  Well, I failed to move enough brain cells to produce a 100-word Flash Fiction.  I only moved a few computer keys enough to create this little stub of a WOW.  I’ll get a move on and do better next week.   😉  😯

’20 A To Z Challenge – J

Jezebel

I once had a great-aunt named Jessie – until I got old enough that my Father told me I didn’t.

Just before I turned 12, my Father informed the family that his favorite aunt had rented a tiny cottage in our tourist town, and would be vacationing for a week.  Never married – she may have been lesbian – she still gathered four small children, cared for and mostly raised them, when Dad’s mother died, giving birth to his younger sister, and his father abandoned them to go off and become a hermit.

She always treated him particularly well.  The few times I met her, she treated me particularly well.  I had (almost) reached the Age Of Reason.  With no obvious prompt, my Dad said, “Her real name isn’t Jessie, you know.”  (No, I didn’t know that.)  “What is it then?”

JEZEBEL

Dad’s paternal grandparents weren’t exceedingly Christian.  Their two boys received common, normal names.  Dad’s dad was Howard.  His aunt may have been assigned her questionable moniker, because her mother was reminded.  She was an unfortunate, female, every-third-child, who was born with a head of brilliant red hair.

She soon tired of the name Jezebel.  She was picked on, mocked, and bullied, at school and in church.  She was still young – elementary school – when she decided to do something about the despicable actions and attitudes of ‘Good Christians.’  Jezebel disappeared, never to be heard of again, and Jessie (or was it Jesse?) came into being, to take her place.

I am so glad that my mother gave me two Plain-Jane (Well…. You know what I mean) names.  I can disappear in a crowd of two.  Archon, and the Grumpy Old Dude, haven’t disappeared though.  Stop back again soon, and I’ll tell you about the fellow who appeared before a judge, requesting to legally change his name.  The judge asked, “What is your name?”  He replied, “Joe Schitts.”  “Well, I can understand why you would want to change your name.  What do you want to change it to?”  “Bob!”  😯

’20 A To Z Challenge – H

A To Z ChallengeLetter H

I never forget a face, but for you, I‘ll make an exception.
You look familiar.  Have you visited my site before?

I’ve got a word all picked out for the letter H.  It’s……. Uh…. around here somewhere.  Now where did I put it??!

Memory Loss

Ah yes, I wanted to tell you about

HYPOMNESIA

noun: Impaired memory.
Abnormally poor memory of the past. As compared to hypermnesia and amnesia. From hypo- + the Greek mneme, memory.
Excessive deposits of copper in the brain may cause neurological disorders such as Parkinson-like symptomsincluding bradykinesiatremor and dystonia, or neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as hypomnesia, dysgnosia, and personality abnormalities.

This is the ‘Learning Disorder’ that I’ve been fighting all my life, complete with essential tremor and lack of social connection.  I can forget someone’s name, while I’m still shaking hands with him.  It’s why I did not go far in school.  I’m not stupid, far from it.  I can understand complex concepts, but I just couldn’t remember them for exams.

I envy people like my son.  I have an extra 25 years of experience, but our heads are both stuffed with about the same amount of trivia.  Where he can recall an esoteric fact at the drop of a pun, I’m like Rain Man, from the movie.  Three days too late it’s, “Qantas!  Definitely Qantas!”

While good, he does not have my opposite, hypermnesia.  Some people mistakenly call that ‘Photographic Memory.’  That term only applies to things which are seen, like text, or pictures.  Eidetic Memory is a better name.  That includes sounds, physical and emotional feelings, aromas, and tastes.

It’s too late in my life to be successful, even with their help, but I adore the advent of computers.  I often use mine to be my memory for me – if I can just recall where I cached my list of passwords.  Even with their assistance, I will never have Total Recall, like the movie title.  I prefer We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, the title of Philip K. Dick’s book, that the 2 movies were named from.

Forgetful

I recently ran into a man I worked with for 15 years, up till 15 years ago.  Use It Or Lose It!  We chatted for ten minutes about the bad old days.  I knew that he was from Uganda, 30 miles north of the equator, but it wasn‘t till after he’d walked away, that I finally remembered his name – so good they named him twice – Karim Karim.

Thoughts, memories, ideas, blog themes – as fleeting and ephemeral as mayflies, or moths around a porch light, I have learned to jot them down, or enter them into an electronic file WHEN they happen – or I lose them.

I’m sure that there were a couple, or several, other points that I wished to add to this post.  They are gone like dew on the grass on a sunny morning.  I forgot them.  Please, don’t you forget to stop by again in a couple of days.  When I do finally remember to compose something, it is often interesting and informative enough to be worth reading.

’20 A To Z Challenge – G

Ham

I recently took a linguistic tour of names, from South America, to Mexico, and parts of Europe.   It was all virtual – in a book, and online.  In real life, I’m barely allowed out the front door by myself.

The hero of the book fled a refuge in the headwaters of the Amazon, high up in the Andes, where Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela all bump together.  Reaching Mexico, he found that a friend had been killed.  He discovered that a U.S. Navy Seal, who he had thought was an American named Eddie Gamble, had actually been a Mexican named Eduardo Gamboa.

Gamboa’, as a Spanish name is not common, and I thought at first that it was really Portuguese, through Brazil, so I started looking.  Maybe because Portugal is on the other side of the Pyrenees mountains from Spain, the language developed different.  They spell words and names like this, the other way.  Their version is Gambao.

It was at this point that my ever-reliable…. uh….memory – that’s it!  Memory, reminded me that, when I am playing my free online game of Solitaire, I am often cajoled to BUY the game Gambino Slots.  Gambino??!  Dear Lord – the Italian mob owns my computer games.

Too lazy to think, I began running them through a couple of translation programs.  The problem is that, because they are proper names, the computer just gives back the same spelling in either language.  Just as I clicked the button to switch from Spanish to Portuguese, for a fraction of a second, the word ‘stem’ appeared.  😳  Duh, FACEPALM!

facepalm-cat

Now, I knew where I was going.  Not stem, but LEG!  I fearlessly ventured on into French.  There, the equivalent name is Cambe, a spelling variation of the word jambe – a leg.  An uncommon English version is Camby.  The French word for ham – a pig’s leg – is jambon.

This even explained the old gangster word referring to a good-looking woman’s legs.  Back during WWII, Betty Grable, and others, had ‘great gams.’

Betty Grable

 

I would like to claim that I came up with a great idea for the letter G, in this A to Z Challenge, but I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.  It was the daughter who suggested this.  You keep coming around to read, and I’ll keep pumping out this dreck interesting trivia.

’20 A To Z Challenge – D

A To Z ChallengeLetter D

Death

I am the God of Hellfire and in this episode of the A to Z Challenge, I bring you

D’EATH

(deeth)
This little-known English word is almost as uncommon as the imported surname. The D’eath family originally lived in the town of Ath in Belgium. There it would have been rendered D’Ath, or De Ath, meaning from Ath. It was also occasionally an occupational name for a gatherer or seller of kindling. In this case, the name is derived from the Middle English word dethe, which in turn is derived from the Old English word dyth, which means fuel or tinder.

Families with the name D’eath might know where it came from and what it meant. The word’s other reference is to the rather sketchy occupation, whose bundles of firewood sticks known as faggots, have deteriorated into a modern insult for homosexuals. To the superstitious, this, and its similarity to the word ‘death,’ make them uneasy when they encounter it.

Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey DSO is the fictional protagonist in a series of detective novels and short stories by Dorothy L. Sayers (and their continuation by Jill Paton Walsh ). A dilettante who solves mysteries for his own amusement, Wimsey is an archetype for the British gentleman detective.

In one book, the hero investigates a suspicious fatality at a company doing sensitive government work. He poses as the man’s replacement, under the name Peter D’eath, telling the manager that he hopes it will startle the guilty party into somehow revealing himself. It was an amusing but needless literary device, because the author goes on to show that it was a prank of a mail-room teen with a slingshot – an English ‘catapult’ – which caused the man to fall down a flight of stairs.

’19 A To Z Challenge – W

AtoZ2019letter-w

 

 

All right everyone, put down your Magic Potions texts, grab your Butter Beer, and we’re off to visit Harry Potter’s friends

Butter Beer

Witch

a person, now especially a woman, who professes or is supposed to practice magic or sorcery; a sorceress. Compare warlock
a woman who is supposed to have evil or wicked magical powers:

Wizard

a person who practices magic; magician or sorcerer.
a conjurer or juggler.

Also whiz, wiz. a person of amazing skill or accomplishment:

Warlock

a man who professes or is supposed to practice magic or sorcery; a male witch; sorcerer.

a fortuneteller or conjurer.

Wyvern

a two-legged winged dragon having the hinder part of a serpent with a barbed tail.

It is one of the vagaries of the English language, that many of the things in Harry Potter’s world begin with the letter W. Aside from the examples above, there are also his magic Wand, his friends and support, the Weasley family – whose forebears came from the village of Westleigh – one of whom, Ginny, (Virginia) became his wife.

Want to know what I’ve dreamed up for the letter X?? You’ll have to wing back over in a couple of weeks. Don’t make me get out my Attraction Spells scroll. 😉 😀

***

Last year, for my Q for quilts challenge post, I showed a picture of the winner in the local Mennonite Relief Auction.  While complex and impressive, I much prefer the recently announced winner of this year’s contest. I like bold blues and geometric shapes, and this one has both.  It’s called Fire Island Hosta Queen.  Here’s a picture of it – do you like it too?

Getting From There To Her

Shakespeare

A man became a woman – and it wasn’t even Caitlyn Jenner.

Even though English is not technically a Romance language, many of the rules apply to the usage and formation of words – including names. In French, Italian and Spanish, names ending in O are male, and names ending in A are female. In English, numerous male names are made female, by adding an A. Don becomes Donna. Robert becomes Roberta. Shawn becomes Shawna. Paul becomes Paula.

(Paul & Paula who were actually, neither Paul, nor Paula was a 1960’s pop music duo with one, million-seller hit, Hey Paula. Click, if you’d like to reminisce.)

We all probably know several of these, but I’ve run into a few less common ones that you may not have seen. Most Dons are actually Donalds. For those who think of themselves, formally, in that way, a few have daughters named Donalda. I’ve met two.

The name Donald is reasonably common, at least among my Scottish relatives. The name Samuel is currently less common. I recently met a Samuela. Like Samuel, Simon tends to be a Jewish name, and fairly rare in English. I recently ran into a Simona. The less common man’s name, Roland, has the even rarer Rolanda, female equivalent.

Shakespeare is accused of creating more than 50 new words for the English language, a few out of whole cloth, but many by merging other words, or adding suffixes. He also added at least four new female names. He created the name Perdita for the daughter of Hermione in his play ‘The Winter’s Tale’ (1610). It is a Latin word, which means lost. While first produced in England, this rare name is most often found among Spanish-speaking people. Kenneth Bulmer used it as the name of an evil villainess in The Key to Irunium, and several other books in this series.

Derived from Latin mirandus meaning “admirable, marvelous, wonderful”, the name Miranda was created by Shakespeare for the heroine in his play ‘The Tempest’ (1611), about a father and daughter stranded on an island. Modern baby-name books now say that it means ‘cute.’

He constructed the female name Jessica from the Jewish male name Jesse, the father of David, meaning God Exists. The female version is now taken to mean, God beholds, or God’s grace. He gave it to the daughter of Shylock, in ‘The Merchant of Venice’ (1596/1599). The original Hebrew name Yiskāh, means “foresight”, or being able to see the potential in the future.

Olivia is a feminine given name in the English language. It is derived from Latin oliva “olive”. William Shakespeare is sometimes credited with creating it. The name was first popularized by his character in ‘The Twelfth Night’ (1601/1602), but in fact, the name occurs in England as early as the thirteenth century. In the manner of extending the olive branch, the name indicates peace, or serenity.

All of these names end in the feminine-indicating final letter A. Not a Chloe, or an Amber, or a Summer, or a Robyn in the bunch. What did your parents name you…. Or, what did you name your daughter?? Are there any regrets?

’19 A To Z Challenge – O

Tattooed Lady

This blog-post will be short and sweet, just like its inspiration

OLIVIA

Olivia, Olivia, have you seen Olivia,
Olivia, the tattooed lady?

Oh, wait! That should be Groucho Marx singing about Lydia, The Tattooed Lady, (Click if you’d like to hear it.) full of racy, risqué, double entendres. The song was first sung in 1939, and it’s easy to include extra little references. When Americans got off their lazy, isolationist asses, and got into WW II, Groucho included the verse, “When she stands, the world gets littler. When she sits, she sits down on Hitler.

I can’t figure out how to make any portion of this post about me, so I’ll just include a link to the one where I debated getting a tattoo myself, for any of you who didn’t see it – and are desperately bored. At least Groucho is dead, and can’t compose a derogatory song about a Grumpy Old Tattooed Dude.

Olivia, as a name, means “Peace.” It comes from ‘olive’, both the tree and the fruit, which comes from the Italian, olea, which is the oil that middle-eastern people learned early to squeeze out. Christians like to claim that the phrase ‘Extend an olive branch,’ which is an offer of peace, comes from the Bible story of the dove returning to Noah with an olive leaf, or twig. But Greeks and Egyptians were using the olive branch 500/700 years B.C.

Olivia was not a common name for centuries. William Shakespeare is often credited with inventing it, but it existed at least 300 years before he included it for a character in Twelfth Night. He only made it a little more well-known and popular. Even a century ago, it was the 2285th most (least) common girls name.

All that changed in 1986, when Disney Studio released the animated movie, The Mouse Detective, with a cute little female mouse named Olivia Flaversham, and impressionable young mothers began naming their daughters Olivia. More recently, the Disney Channel compounded the interest by offering an animated series named Elena of Avalor. It’s an historic magic story-line, with a young female named Olivia, as assistant to a wizard. As a result, in 2018, the name Olivia was the 3rd most common girls’ name in The United States, and the 2nd most popular in Australia.

I luvya Olivia. Please come back in a couple of days, for some more useless trivia. 😀

I’ve Never Herd Of Smith

People Named Smith
H. Allen Smith once wrote a book titled People Named Smith. This was a financial move on his part, as he knew that if only five percent of the Smiths in the United States bought the book, he would be able to retire rich. Unfortunately, he discovered that “almost everyone named Smith is either (1) stingy, or (2) illiterate, or (3) both.”

He did this because Mark Twain had shown him how. Twain claimed that he had met a John Smith in every town he had ever been in, and cynically dedicated his first novel to “John Smith,” claiming that people who have a book dedicated to them, will purchase a copy of it.

Captain John Smith was an explorer of note, and an island he discovered near Cape Charles was named “Smith Island” after him. However, Captain Smith wasn’t happy with the island chosen to honor him, and he complained, “Why, I could spit across it.”

The book is mainly about names, and not all of them were of people named Smith. He once met an imposing man, when invited on a cruise on a yacht in the Caribbean. Not impressed with the commonness of his name, Smith, he declared, “A man’s name is a mere label – nothing else – and has no more meaning than the label on a can.

The gentleman disagreed, and introduced himself. He was Theron Lamar Caudle, the assistant Attorney-General of the United States. His name was all old Anglo-Saxon, and represented a complete sentence. Theron means ‘go seek.’ Lamar means ‘the sea,’ and Caudle is a ‘hot toddy.’ Translated literally, it means, “Go seek a hot toddy by the sea,” and here he was, with a drink in his hand, on a boat, in the Caribbean.

People afflicted with the last name Smith, sometimes go to lengths to have a first name of some significance which sets them apart from all the other multitudes of Smiths. Labels are important to many, although one Appalachian mother cared so little that she insisted to the interviewer, that the official names of her two kids, on the ‘Guv’mint papers, really was Shithead and Fartface Smith.’

One child was named 5/8 Smith. I don’t know if he was the runt of the litter, or maybe, just not all there. One father christened his son Smith, so that he went through life with the double-barreled name of Smith Smith. A photographer, whose work appeared in newspapers and magazines, legally changed his given name to Another, because he was tired of hearing, “Oh, another Smith.”

One day the author was speaking to a writer friend. They discussed some personal things, and then he said, “What are you working on these days?”
“I’m collaborating on a book.”
“With whom?”
“Man named Ira Smith.”
“You serious??”
“Certainly I’m serious.”
He said, “My God, that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that I’m collaborating on a book with a man named Ira Smith.”

It was true. The other writer was working on the memoirs of Ira R. T. Smith, who for 51 years had been in charge of mail at the White House. At the same time, H. Allen Smith had been working on a book of baseball anecdotes with Ira L. Smith, a Washington journalist.

Ira wouldn’t seem to be an especially common first name, yet Ira L. had had his share of confusions. He was forever getting newspaper clippings from friends;
Ira Smith caught drunk driving in Georgia
Ira Smith an upstate New York cabbie, kidnapped, robbed, tied to a tree, and murdered
Ira L. Smith, a retired Virginia lumberman, dying at the age of 91

He even had a newspaper ad which said;

FOOL your friends. Pretend you are in San Francisco
3 postcards sent 25 cents (20-$1) You write
message, address, return. I remail in San Francisco
Letter mailed 15 cents. Your friends will think
you’re travelling. Ira Smith, 153 Liberty St., San
Francisco, Calif.

The middle name of our Ira L. Smith was Lepouce, his mother’s Belgian maiden name, meaning ‘the thumb’. He was once under consideration for a great job in Washington, but a senior executive named Smith, didn’t want him hired. There were already too many Smiths in the office, and he didn’t want another one messing up phone calls and mail.

Ira went to the man, and offered to apply his middle name to all phone calls and correspondence. The exec replied, “Anyone who would permit himself to be called I. Lepouce Smith in order to get a job must want that job pretty badly. You’re hired.”

The author mentions a situation called Ultra-Smith, where one Smith marries another. My sister did this, confusing all sorts of folks. As you climb down from the family tree, EVERYBODY is named Smith.

(* I have a framed reproduction of a Feb. 13, 1923 Saturday Evening Post cover, with a Norman Rockwell painting and an article about Wodehouse’s recent Psmith book, which refused to upload to WordPress.  It, and a mug with his name, Cyril, were all I got from the nursing home when my Father died.  I didn’t even know he had it.  Perhaps if/when I figure out the problem, I can display it in a later post.)

In England, we have the interesting case of Mr. Psmith, a dashing young character invented by P. G. Wodehouse. In the novel Leave It to Psmith, we find him engaged in a colloquy with a young woman.

“The name is Psmith, P-smith.”
“Peasmith, sir?”
“No, no. P-s-m-i-t-h. I should explain to you that I started life without the initial letter, and my father always clung ruggedly to the plain Smith. But it seemed to me that there were so many Smiths in the world that a little variety might well be introduced. Smythe I look on as a cowardly evasion, nor do I approve of the too prevalent custom of tacking on another name on the front by means of a hyphen. So I decided to adopt the Psmith. The P, I should add for your guidance, is silent, as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan. You follow me?

This Smith book was written in 1952, which explains the ancient, minuscule postage fees, and the somewhat formal construction. Aside from the P-ed off words above, the author used ‘expatiate,’ which means, to enlarge in discourse or writing; be copious in description or discussion: ramble on and on – which I’ve done magnificently with this post. Thanx for rambling along with me, and some of my questionable namesakes.