Monday, 1 August 2011
We can work it out
Over the years I've attributed it to good fortune, my father's genes, Clinique's good fortune (having me as a major customer), and delayed development. Some of the above may have played their part in leaving my skin as soft and unmarked as a baby's bottom, but the dawning realisation is that if you want to look young get teased - rotten.
The missus has always teased me. As I've got older the more she has teased and this has had the same effect, I swear, of stuffing myself with anti-oxidants and lipoic acid, loads of super foods, and liposuction.
One evening somehow we got around to the word "zither". I can't say "zither". However hard I try it comes out "sizzer". For some reason my incipient lisp makes an appearance when a "z"'s around and my tongue pops gingerly out of my mouth as I try to form the word.
"What did you say?" she asked. "Sizzer" I lisped. "What's a "sizzer"?" she queried. " It's what that Australian woman played in the 50's", I replied. "Shirley Abicair played a "zither", not a "sizzer". Say it again." So I did "Sizzer".
"Why are you sticking your tongue out?", my wife beginning to sense a rich tease lode. "I'm not?" "You are! Say "zimmer."" "Simmer", "Now, "Zodiac", "Sodiac". What about "zoo", you must be able to say "Zoo". But like a trained monkey out popped my tongue and "Sue" appeared.
This was magic to "'er indoors". She had visions of hours of entertainment in store as she took me through not only the "Sees", sorry "Zees" but all the other letters of the alphabet. And her innate teaching impulse had something to latch onto - my lisp. That evening the next two hours were taken up with her attempts to "correct" my lisp.
She instantly identified the fault - my tongue and its propensity to poke out of my mouth when trying the "zee word". "Put your teeth together,and press your tongue flat against them. Now say "zither" and as you do open your mouth". I tried but all that happened was that I sounded like a demented bee."Zzzz -ah" "What's that!" she exclaimed in sheer delight clasping her hands to her chest. Oh! this was more than she could have ever hoped for in a marriage - a hubby with a lisp.
I did manage to say "zither" - once, but the effort was too much. My tongue was seriously compromised but finally it came out "zith ...ER". The air pressure behind the successful attempt was such that had I had false teeth in they'd have rocketed across the room. As it was the cat leapt a foot into the air with the shock.
We next moved on to " Zebedee". Here my tongue steadfastly stayed in my mouth but still the hard "zee" was beyond me. Out came an "Sebedee". And so it went on.
I started to play up to it, and having been made aware of the missing "Zee" in my vocabulary, things went from bad to worse.
The missus hadn't played this game for a while, but that all changed yesterday evening at our friends house.
We took round a bottle of French red and three bottles of non alcoholic beer (for me). Our hosts had already had a largish glass of Ricard Pastis - 40% proof, and by the time the meal had finished my wife and our hosts were on the second bottle of wine.
It all started innocently enough: holiday plans, the weather, the parking (lack of) and then, since the conversation was lagging I mention my most recent purchase of 11 packets of herb seeds. Somehow everyone found this hugely funny. Anyway I must have said something in my defence which involved a sibilance, 'cause I very soon found myself slithering, hither and sither. You would have thought I'd cracked the funniest joke ever so side holding, jaw achingly funny was my lisp. But the real treat came when someone mentioned their difficulty in saying "abominable".
Alcohol has that effect - "abomubble", "abomnibble", "abomable" each of us laughing more and more as we took it in turns to pronounce that abominable word. I was sober but I gave up trying after I stuttered my way to abmonababababab....trailing off into a titter.
I realise now that for much of my time with my wife, my face is creased up with laughter, either because of something she's said or her comment on something I have said. It's what keeps my face looking less than its years. Constant stretching and exercising the facial muscles, with intensive workouts with the letter "z".
The rest of me? Well that's another matter.