Friday, June 11, 2010


Here’s a linguistic memory of Santa Catalina that will stay with me forever.

You know how certain phrases become keynotes for a relationship or an event? For example, The Bride and I have developed our own language of metaphors that reflect certain moments in our lives. For example, one of them is “Learn, learn, learn. You can learn at the fair!” This came about during our first trip to the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson, where we got a firsthand look at cattle restraints. (You don’t think they just stand there for branding, do you?) Another is the phrase, “Gee, maybe someone could made a two-dimensional graphic representation of that,” based on the time I got us lost in downtown St. Louis looking for the Bowling Hall of Fame because I refused to look at a map.

This happens outside of the marital bond as well. I was in Israel on a public health preparedness study tour about three years ago. What we found was that every speaker began their presentation by noting that “Israel is a small country, about the size of New Jersey.” It got to the point that even before a speaker would start, one of us would raise our hands and ask, “Is it true that Israel is a small country, about the size of New Jersey?”

(It was a great time, and I did indeed “learn, learn, learn” that for us, preparedness is a hobby. For Israelis, it’s a way of life.)

In Santa Catalina, one of the mad-made landmarks is the Casino, a strange hybrid of Renaissance and Art Deco that somehow manages to outshine both its parents. (However, just like a mule, I suppose it is unlikely to reproduce.) It sits on a rocky point just to the edge of town, and it’s one of those things that are always in view. This means that every bus driver, boat guide, kayak instructor, and street vendor reminds you that “Casino is an Italian word meaning gathering place.” I think there is probably something in the law of the island that says if you do not repeat this fact once every three hours, you will be deported to the mainland and given a choice of jobs as Lindsey Lohan’s probation officer or Head of Risk Management for BP.

While the phrases by themselves are amusing, the problem is that when you build up a repertoire they end to run together. So by the end of the trip, I would look out over the harbor of Avalon at this wonderful Mediterranean structure, and note that “Casino is an Italian word meaning ‘about the size of New Jersey.’ Learn, learn, learn. We can learn in New Jersey!”

If only there was a two-dimensional graphical representation of how to find it…now, wouldn’t that be something!

No comments:

Post a Comment