9 May 2013

by jkatejohnston

Dear Max,

Last night at dinner I got the bright idea that we should all name our butt-cheeks. I named my right one Bertha and my left one Hilda. Teresa named her right one Heloise and her left one Alexis. Then she decided Heloise didn’t sound right and changed to Alexis and Tiffany. Enzo didn’t want to name his. He just wasn’t interested. But later as he was clearing the table with this droopy, long-suffering air, Teresa called him “Cinder-fella,” and he brightened and said, “Mama Kate should be called Cindersmella.” To general acclaim.


I overheard Enzo telling one of his friends that for Mother’s Day he’s doing to get both of us A La Mode.


Teresa got Enzo a six-pack of boxer shorts to wear as pajamas. They look huge on him, but they stay up, and they’re nice and airy for hot nights. He wanted a superhero theme, but Teresa insisted on plaids and checks. So last night after he got into pajamas, I said, “I think those are the cutest ones yet.”

Enzo: “And the awesome-est.”

Me: “They are pretty epic.”

Enzo: “They’re not epic.”

Me: “What’s the difference between epic and awesome?”

Enzo: “Epic is like five times awesome.”

I really should stay within my natural vocabulary. One of my lawyer pals and I have gotten into the habit of pronouncing “All right” more like “Aight.” It’s one syllable, but a sort of prolonged syllable. I think I picked it up partly from watching The Wire and partly from clients. Anyway, I think it’s a sort of inner-city black dialect. Or at least it’s my idea of that.

So at my new job, my secretary is an African-American woman, about fifty. I’m not her boss. My boss isn’t even her boss. She’s the supervisor for all the secretaries, and she’s not supposed to be assigned to an attorney because she has all these management duties, but since they’re a bit short-staffed, she assigned herself to me. Several people, on learning that she’s my secretary, have said, “How’d you manage that?” Apparently, she’s far above my station.

So one day I asked her what to do about something, and she told me, and I said, “Aight,” and instantly realized that I sounded like such an idiot.

She didn’t react, and I hope she just wasn’t paying attention. But I slunk away.