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It's inconceivable

When sick habits go "nucular"

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

-- Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

I learn things about myself when I'm sick. I have habits. By this, I mean "habits" as in customary behaviors, not "habits" as in fashionable nunnery apparel. I've never had fashionable nunnery apparel. To my knowledge, I've never had unfashionable nunnery apparel either, but if I could look as cute as Sally Field, I'd give it a whirl.

OK, back to my sick habits. Well, not "sick habits" in that my habits are sickening, although that could be up for debate. (How many days have you worn those socks?) But I'm not talking about sick habits. I'm talking about habits I have when I'm sick.

Oh, the human language is exhausting. Baxter has about 12 different barks, and he never fails to communicate. With fluctuations in body language and tone of voice, he conveys everything from "I need some privacy in the grass" to "The postman is HERE!"

We humans complicate things. Years ago, there was a newspaper ad from Cornerstone, Ark. A man selling a car disclosed the motor was missing. The potential buyer was a shade-tree mechanic and knew how to adjust a misfiring engine. Buyer and seller worked out a deal, each using the same words regarding the missing motor. The buyer turned the key, and the car wouldn't start. Upon looking under the hood and seeing a hole where the motor should be, the buyer exclaimed, "The motor is missing!" The seller said, "That's what I said!"

So, back to habits. Having caught a cold recently, I gathered my standard handful of Puffs, favorite blanket, two pillows, a beverage and the remote control. I did my typical toss-and-turn sequence until I found a comfy spot, and I became one with the sofa for the day. With Baxter assuming his position on my feet, I turned on the television to find some convalescent company.

I landed on 24, a series from 2001 where Kiefer Sutherland portrays Jack Bauer, a rogue federal agent chased the world over in real time by Russians, Chinese and Americans. Every few minutes, Bauer declares, "We're running out of time," and "We don't have another choice." I was hooked.

Bauer has habits. He likes dark clothes, prefers strong women and blinks hard when he's agitated. He hot wires cars in six seconds and stops "nucular" bombs.

Wait, what? I hit replay.

That's not how you hot wire a car. (Don't ask me how I know this.) I suspended disbelief about legal scenarios and mortal physical prowess, but I got hung up on the hot-wiring thing. Someone must have educated the writers because he does it better in later episodes, albeit still implausible. But, apparently, no one could get him to stop pronouncing "nuclear" as "nucular," even when other actors in dialogue with him said it properly.

Perhaps I'm not patient when I'm a patient under a rest with dogged feet for 24 hours when it comes to pro-nun-ciating. Nah, that's inconceivable.

NAN Our Town on 06/08/2017

Print Headline: Human language exhausting

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