Words Do Not Always Mean What I Think They Do: In Which I Say Some Very Strange and Embarrassing Sentences

The readers have spoken and with a majority of 39.13% at the time of this post “Words Do Not Always Mean What I Think They Do: In Which I Say Some Very Strange and Embarrassing Sentences” has won. So let the embarrassment begin!

As I’ve said in previous posts, I make naive assumptions a lot. Especially when I was younger, I created my own, very sheltered world where absolutely nobody would ever do anything like use drugs or be crude. Those sorts of things only existed on the page or screen. And as the sole inhabitant of Ella’s Sheltered World, I just let everything that didn’t fit into this schema fall by the wayside.

I middle school, I was shocked to learn that “suck” and “screw” weren’t words that you could throw around like “darn” and “gosh.” And it wasn’t until last year that I learned that “screw you” actually has meaning behind it. Of course, both of these things were discovered when I said them in front of a lot of people who should not have been hearing things like this come out of my mouth.

To continue, there were several funny incidents beginning at the age of nine when I would use the words behind Harry Potter spells to refer to things. “Engorgio” got me into a lot of trouble during a Christmas party, though it was laughed off by the adults who knew that I had no idea what I was saying.

And it wasn’t until I was around fifteen that I learned that “breaking wind” had nothing to do with wind resistance, which made for a very strange remark in a science class.

There were also the typical childhood confusion with song lyrics. In the song, “Home on the Range,” there’s a line that goes:

“Where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.”

Well, I thought that “seldom” was a discouraging word.

And it wasn’t until I saw Roger McGuin in concert at sixteen that I learned the my favorite Bob Dylan song, “My Back Pages” did not include the line:

“Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that cow”

and instead was supposed to go:

“Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”

I’m surprised that I didn’t figure it out sooner, as “cow” made little to no sense, but I continued singing it with that butchered line for over sixteen years (or however long it was once I learned how to sing).

Then, there is the matter of me failing to understand innuendoes, and standing around obliviously and interjecting with weird comments while people are talking about things like sex or drugs. I always seem to assume that people are actually talking about something else that’s far less sensitive and vulgar, and end up entirely confused.

The list could go on and on, and I’m sure that if I pressed my parents and friends, they could list all sorts of specific examples of things I have said or misunderstood over the years, but it is getting quite late, and I am incredibly tired. I’ll add them below as people remind me of them.

In other news, apparently there was some big awards show tonight. Tomorrow, I will feast my eyes on all of the pretty dresses! With the exception of The Oscars, I can never really get into the televised awards shows–too many over-the-top performances and often boring hosts, and people like Katie Perry and the actors of Glee don’t exactly interest me.

I also hang out at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, where I can be found reblogging pretty images, funny .gifs, and the occasional liberal article.

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How to Stun Second-Graders Into Silence

It’s not easy to stun a room of second-graders into silence, but I guarantee that this picture will do it:

We were discussing different cultures, and when we put this picture up on the Smart Board, 25 seven-year-olds gasped and gawked.

Maybe it’s the sea-green eyes or the piercing stare, but this Afghani girl has that same effect on people of all ages. She’s become iconic, an image many people conjure up when they think of National Geographic.

I will never forget my own reaction to discovering the original photograph while digging through old issues of the magazine when I was ten. She looks both terrifying and terrified. The horrors of war and an escape to a Pakistani refugee camp are conveyed in the way she almost glares at the camera. You feel as if she isn’t just captured on the page, she’s staring right at you, and she knows all of your secrets.

At the time, I screamed and slammed the cover face-down onto the floor, but a moment later, I flipped it back over to take another peek. As scary as the image can be, you feel compelled to stare back, to lock eyes with the image, and puzzle out the her almost baffling beauty.

If you haven’t seen the image before, I’d love to hear what you think of it in the comments. Did you startle the way I did or did you gasp and stare like my students?

If you’re interested, there is an article about going back to find the girl seventeen years later. It’s amazing, and the picture Steve McCurry took is just as striking.

I’ve had this new layout around for a few weeks now, and I’m curious to know whether you like it or not.

And it’s that time again. I’m writing this week’s Reader-Selected post tomorrow and need you to vote for the topic.

I also hang out at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, where I sometimes reblog pictures as beautiful as this one.