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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The Reason Why My Mouth Hurts When I See Whisks

With a whopping 67% of the vote, “The Reason Why My Mouth Hurts When I See Whisks” won this week’s reader-selected topic.

Now, this story would make sense if I were a toddler or even under the age of six. Alas, when the whisk incident went down, I was ten, which makes it a bit embarrassing and even more amusing.

For Christmas 2003, one of our neighbors gave us a beautiful Christmas card and an ornament. It was a very nice, thoughtful gift–the stationary was thick and glossy, depicting Mary holding baby Jesus in her arms, face aglow at the wonder of his birth (though quite frankly every new mother I’ve ever met has looked that much in awe and in love with her baby), and the ornament was a very small whisk, hung on a thin red ribbon, a reference to how much my mother loves cooking.

My mother was thrilled, propping the card up on the windowsill in the dining room and immediately hanging the miniature whisk on the tree. I was almost equally as excited. Sure, the card was lovely, but that wonderfully shiny whisk was just the right size for my American Girl Dolls’ hands, large enough to look a little strange and unwieldily in the way that all whisks do, yet the right size to make eggs or flour light and fluffy.

The moment my mother left the room, I snuck over to the tree and untangled the ribbon from the branch. This whisk was clearly destined to be mine. I selfishly fondled it in my hands for a moment, tracing my fingers over the twisted metal.

And then, I did something unexplainable.

I put the whisk into my mouth and bit down.

I was long past the age of putting things in my mouth to figure out how they worked. I wasn’t even teething.

Perhaps it was the shiny steel or how deliciously devious I felt wedged between the wall and the tree. Maybe I was hungry.

But whatever the reason was, I had abandoned all common sense. Whisks, even miniatures ones that almost fit, do not belong in mouths, and you most certainly should never bit them.

As I released my jaw, I discovered that the whisk was stuck. A tine was jammed between each set of my front two incisors–top and bottom–making me unable to open my mouth. I tugged at the handle, but it was no use. That whisk wasn’t going anywhere.

I may have just made an incredibly stupid decision, but I was not entirely lacking in intelligence. I knew that if I left my hiding place and sought help, everyone would know that I had been trying to nick the ornament, and I would get in trouble. So I tried to dislodge it again. And again. And again. It didn’t budge.

After five minutes of fruitless tugging, I began to cry. Having a whisk stuck in your mouth is painful. My teeth were being shoved apart, and my gums were throbbing. I was suddenly sure that I was going to be stuck with a whisk in my mouth for the rest of my life. The kids at school would call me whisk-head or something else ridiculous, but not ridiculous enough not to make me upset. My life was over, and I was going to have to starve to death behind the Christmas tree. I wondered if the pine scent would hide the smell of my decaying body.

A few more minutes of silent sobbing later, I gathered what was left of my courage and ran into the kitchen, crying and pointing at my mouth. My parents were shocked to see their ten-year-old daughter, who earlier that day had been sitting upside down on the couch reading Fast Food Nation, with a whisk stuck in her mouth and bawling like a banshee.

Thankfully, I was not subject to any questioning while they helped me dislodge each of the metal tines from between my teeth. Even though over eight years have passed, I can still feel that horrible scrape of the metal against my enamel as my mouth was slowly released. It was a horrible, disgusting feeling, not only because I knew that I had most likely caused permanent damage to my front teeth, but also because everyone was going to know just how stupid I was. And I was so determined to be finally be taken seriously and be allowed to sit at the “adult table” at dinner parties*.

When I was finally freed from my tine-y prison**, I ran down the hall to the bathroom to look at my teeth. They remained perfectly straight, still guaranteeing me entry into the no-braces-ever club, but there was a noticeable, albeit slight, space in between my top two teeth and another one, even smaller, between my bottom two incisors. My gums were, surprisingly, not bleeding, but looked red and angry all the same.

The ornament was washed and placed back on the tree within the hour, dangling from a branch, reflecting the white glow from the fairy lights almost too innocently. I glared back, willing it to look at least a little guilty for hurting me, though the entire experience had, admittedly, been my fault.

The next day, when I walked into the kitchen to make myself breakfast–two glasses of orange juice and all of the oatmeal I can consume, please–I noticed one of my mother’s people-sized whisks mixed in with other cooking utensils in crockery next to the stove. I raised my hand to my mouth and winced as I briefly had a flashback of the pain, the panic, and the terrible scrapping. Later that day when I saw the whisk, I winced again, and it repeated every time I looked at the ornament or the unoffending ones in the kitchen.

These unfortunate whisk flinching and flashback moments have not decreased over the years, and every time I think or see a whisk, my mouth briefly hurts with phantom pain. Christmastime and seeing that ornament again only makes it worse. This year, I succeeded in jamming it back into its box before anyone had a chance to hang it on the tree, which has made the holiday season considerably more enjoyable.

So there you have it: another example of why you should never be greedy and nick ornaments off of a tree.

An alternate take-away from this post is that Ella is sometimes very foolish.

Or we could all have a laugh about ornaments and the silly, silly things we did as children.

Do you have any funny Christmas stories? Feel free to tell them in the comments!

*Ten-year-old Ella, one day you are going to be eighteen and still be forced to sit at the folding table in the sunroom. However, you will be allowed to stay up as late as you want and talk with adults starting when you’re about fourteen. So stop complaining and go eat the pint of blueberries you hid under your bed again.

**Hahahaha. Puns, I can make them, you guys! Puns! (I should start writing these posts sometime before ten p.m. when I start to get giggly.)

I’m putting up another poll for next week’s reader-selected post down below. A lot of people want me to talk about food, so I’ve added that as an option as well. Hopefully, I’ll get my post about going to see John and Hank Green up before the end of the weekend. And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Soccer Boy Gets Stuck and Nearly Loses His Pants in A Water Main Hole

Once upon a time, I was eight and very opinionated. After an argument with someone in my family, I stomped outside, vowing to “leave home forever, and never ever come back, and you’ll all be sorry when I die on the streets, alone.” But of course, I didn’t get very far. I just sat down on the front stoop in my yellow striped sun-dress and pink rainboots—don’t ever say I didn’t have style—and pouted, one of those huge lower lip extension pouts. I was going to stick my lip out as far as I possibly could to prove the depth of my anger and disappointment. There was nothing model-esque about it. And I crossed my arms, narrowed my eyes, and stared out across the street.

A few minutes later, one of my neighbors, a boy close to my age (we’ll call him Soccer Boy), walked across the street to ask to borrow our soccer goal. But instead of asking me if he could use it, he started to sing “I see London. I see France. I see Ella’s underpants.” And it was true, if you’re wearing a dress, you should never sit on steps without keeping your knees together and shifting your legs to the side. I was showing my “Fabulous Fushia”—as the sparkly print on the front of the panties proclaimed—underwear off to the entire world. And if I had been upset before, it was nothing compared to now. So I drew myself up to my full height, stomped one boot, and said in a haughty voice, “I hate you.” Then, I stuck my tongue out in my most menacing manner for good measure.

He left, and I went back to my job as a professional sulker. About half an hour later, some of the “gang” (the name for my group of friends, Soccer Boy included, that lived on our block), including Soccer Boy, came traipsing up the street with tomato stakes and someone’s wheelbarrow. Soccer Boy decided that now would be an excellent time to show off for the bunch of them, but instead of racing down the street at top speed on a Segway or jumping off of the back of our neighbor’s seven-foot-tall half-pipe (yes, we did do all of that and more) or even eating tree leaves (not a good idea, not that I know this from experience or anything), he decided to pry the cover off of a water meter. (Where we lived, the water meters were buried a few feet into the ground, close to the sidewalk on every houses’ side lawn, and they had these white plates covering them. (We spent a lot of time putting things in these holes that didn’t belong there, like acorns (to grow an oak tree) and letters to the fairy gods.)) And then he proceeded to lower himself into the hole.

Eight-year-olds are very narrow, but as it turns out, not narrow enough not to get stuck in water meter holes. He was stuck almost exactly at his waist, and to prove how good of friends we all were, we decided to cover him with shredded grass and laugh. It was all fun and games, even for Soccer Boy, until it became apparent that he wasn’t just stuck temporarily. He was honest to goodness really wedged into that hole. We fetched his father, but he was too old to be able to pull Soccer Boy out, so we had to get my mother to do it. And much to his embarrassment, his pants mostly came off and his underwear looked like it was also threatening to retreat to the depths of the hole.

And that, my friends, was the sweetest revenge. I didn’t even have to do a thing. He got himself into the whole mess. And his underwear blunder was far worse than mine and involved an audience of five kids and two adults. His story has since been told numerous, numerous times, to side-hurting laughter, whereas my underwear story has probably only been recounted a total of three times and only as a preamble to his. After all, every girl ends up showing her underwear off to the world like that at some point in her life, but it takes a very special person to nearly lose his pants in a water meter hole.

Also, Soccer Boy, if you are by any chance reading this—something I heavily doubt—I’m sorry for telling this story. It was too funny to pass up. I won’t tell who you are, if you agree not to yell at me.

And with that, darling Maxwell and I wish you a goodnight from a bed that is now covered with a fancy blue bedspread I swiped from Pippa’s room. Pippa, we’ll return it when you get home; it doesn’t match the rest of my decor very well, anyway.

As always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Ella Plus Stickers Equals Embarrassment

This afternoon while unpacking groceries, I decided that it would be a great idea to peel one of the stickers off of the bananas and stick it to my forehead. After all, it said “brain fuel,” and I can never refuse the opportunity to do something silly to make someone laugh.

Of course, in typical fashion, I forgot that it was stuck there, and eight hours later, it is still firmly attached to my forehead. This reminds of me of two embarassing stories from middle school.

When I was fourteen, my waist was too small for most normal pairs of jeans, and I had to resort to the jeans from Kids’ Gap or Lucky Brand (very opposite ends of the price spectrum, I know). My mom had recently purchased me a new pair of jeans, and I was very excited to wear them*. So I put them on and headed off to school, thinking that I looked fabulous. It wasn’t until third period that someone informed me that I still had the very long vertical size sticker still stuck to one of the legs, informing everybody that my jeans were a size 12 narrow and were from the Kids’ Gap. I didn’t live that one down for about a month.

The second one is quite a bit like what happened today, only this time I went off to school with the sticker, which was both upside-down and said “slice me on cheerios.” Once again, no one pointed it out to me until I stood up to give a presentation in French class.

Thankfully, none of these things ever ended up bothering me that much, mostly because I was so wrapped up in trying to prove to people that I was smart and interesting. Weirdly, at the time I kind of liked it when people said something about my appearance because I could always come up with some snappy retort or just give them a smile**.

Do you have any funny and embarrassing stories involving stickers or from when you were in middle school? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

*In another somewhat related embarrassing story, I wore sweaters, Keens with socks, and black velour bell-bottoms for the entirety of seventh grade. I feel it’s necessary to note that my fashion sense has improved significantly since then.

**Giving someone a big smile when they’re trying to hurt you is actually incredibly effective and feels really, really good.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Ella Tells Embarrassing Stories About Herself

I thought that I’d share an embarrassing stories today.

One:

Now, as you all know, I am incredibly fond of Harry Potter, and I have been for quite some time. I was fourteen and at summer camp when the seventh book came out, and I was in full on obsession mode. I wore my Hogwarts robe the day of the release and spent nearly all my free time reading and rereading the book.

A few days later, we were having a get-together with our brother cabin from the boys camp when I noticed that one of the boys was wear a shirt that said “I’m a keeper.”

“No way!” I thought, “That’s got to do with the Quidditch position. I should go ask about it!”

So I did, and he laughed at me, because apparently that phrase has nothing to with Harry Potter, and everything to do with being an attractive romantic partner.

And like any mature thirteen-year-old, I stomped off to sit on the back steps of the cabin to read my book and refused to come out and socialize for the rest of the night.

Two:

I once proudly wore this outfit to school: