Proper Misspelling

One summer evening when I was seven years old, I walked into the kitchen and asked my mother – who was bending over an open, hot oven – if she was my mistress.  Mom responded with a back hand across my face.  Shocking, I know…my mom had a wicked backhand.  Oh, the mistress comment.  I can blame it on the older, pretty girl next door.  Being raised south of the Mason-Dixon Line I knew the three important words referring to females: Miss, Mrs., and Ma’am.  Thus, to a seven-year old, the term ‘mistress’ seemed to fit nicely into my polite Southern vocabulary.  I learned two very important lessons that day: don’t stand too close to Mom when she is bending over a hot oven and a colorful vocabulary can be dangerous.  Okay, a third, don’t trust the pretty girl next door.

Thirty odd years later I was at the Wagon Wheel Diner, a local lunch spot in East Point, Georgia, when in response to the waitress asking if I wanted more ice tea I automatically replied, “No thank you, Ma’am.”  I received a very indignant “I’m too young to be a May’uum!”  Maybe it was my age in relation to hers; me being at least ten years older.  Not sure.  I just figured she was probably from the mid-West, where “May’uum” may very well refer to her mother’s older sister.

Sure I received a lot of ribbing from my co-workers who found the waitress’s sharp comment funny at my expense.  Yet, both of those moments in my Southern linguistic travels have a lasting impression on how I approach language and the art of writing.

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Proper Misspelling” copyright Steven S. Walsky,all rights reserved.  No part of this article may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (to include electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without written permission of the author.

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5 thoughts on “Proper Misspelling

    • Thanks. Years later, my Mom would tease me about it; but at the time it was “DON’T EVER CALL ME YOUR MISTRISS!”

  1. HAHA! Love this post! Too funny!
    Canadians from the west coast onwards to Ontario all basically have the same “accent” and pronunciations of words. Once you hit Quebec you’ll find everyone speaks “FRANGLISH” (a mix of French, Slang and English). But….once you hit the east coast, well, no one knows what the hell they’re saying! LOL Not only do they have an accent, none of the words they use are the same as ours. They speak a foreign language to most other Canadians. Whether through email or face to face, we just don’t know what they’re trying to say! LOL

    • Many French Canadian snowbirds heading to/from Florida use the major road that runs by my house, and they have a difficult time talking to even the cosmopolitan Northern Virginians. Of course, having watched the Red Green Show, I have a far better appreciation Canada’s linguistic talents…and the use of duct tape.

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